Dr Karen Wicks
Both my higher education and employment careers have been dedicated to the University of Reading since 1994. I currently hold a position as Associate Director, Technical Services, managing the technical staff based in SAGES, SAPD and SMPCS. I previously held a role for 8-years as post-doctoral research assistant to the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Steven Mithen. During this time, I acquired a broad understanding of north European and north Chinese prehistory, Pleistocene palaeoenvironments and climate change having directed major research-driven fieldwork campaigns in western Scotland and the Chinese Haidai region - this building upon my PhD research reconstructing vegetation and landscape histories using Quaternary science techniques. These campaigns have resulted in the publication of several peer-reviewed papers concerned with the colonisation and earliest prehistory of northern Britain and northern China that have established my international reputation as a leading expert in Bayesian chronological modelling. Prior to this, I was Enterprise Manager based in SAGES, managing the commercial services within the school. In this role, I provided academic and practical expertise as a forensic palynologist at crime scenes, post-mortem examinations and during legal proceedings in the UK. This included the use of the cribriform approach to recover trace particulates from cadavers.
Areas of interest
- Hunter-gatherer landscape archaeology and the Mesolithic of western Scotland
- Bayesian chronological modelling
- Multi-proxy palaeoenvironmental reconstruction (using palynological, sedimentological, geochemical and anthracological techniques)
- Holocene human impacts and climate change
- The Mesolithic-Neolithic transition
- Forensic palynology
ResearchScientific Archaeology Research Group
- Mithen, S. and Wicks, K. (2021) Population level models for testing hunter-gatherer resilience and settlement response to the combined impact of abrupt climatic events and sea level change: a case study from the Holocene of northern Britain. Quaternary Science Reviews, 265. 107027. ISSN 0277-3791 doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2021.107027
- Mithen, S., Wicks, K. and Berg-Hansen, I. (2020) The Mesolithic coastal exploitation of western Scotland The impacts of climate change and use of favoured locations. In: Schülke, A. (ed.) Coastal Landscapes of the Mesolithic Human Engagement with the Coast from the Atlantic to the Baltic Sea. Routledge, London, pp. 147-178. ISBN 9780203730942 doi: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203730942
- Berg-Hansen, I., Wicks, K. and Mithen, S. (2019) A tanged point and two blade technologies from Rubha Port an t-Seilich, Isle of Islay, western Scotland. Journal of Lithic Studies, 6 (1). ISSN 2055-0472 doi: https://doi.org/10.2218/jls.2892
- Mithen, S. and Wicks, K. (2018) The interpretation of Mesolithic structures in Britain: new evidence from Criet Dubh, Isle of Mull, and alternative approaches to chronological analysis for inferring occupation tempos and settlement patterns. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 84. pp. 77-110. ISSN 0079-797X doi: https://doi.org/10.1017/ppr.2018.13
- Waddington, C. and Wicks, K. (2017) Resilience or wipe out? Evaluating the convergent impacts of the 8.2 ka event and Storegga tsunami on the Mesolithic of northeast Britain. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 14. pp. 692-714. ISSN 2352-409X doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2017.04.015
- Wicks, K., Finlayson, B., Maricevic, D., Smith, S., Jenkins, E. and Mithen, S. (2016) Dating WF16: exploring the chronology of a Pre-Pottery Neolithic A settlement in the Southern Levant. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 82. pp. 73-123. ISSN 0079-797X doi: https://doi.org/10.1017/ppr.2015.21
- Mithen, S., Wicks, K., Pirie, A., Riede, F., Lane, C., Banerjea, R., Cullen, V., Gittins, M. and Pankhurst, N. (2015) A Lateglacial archaeological site in the far north-west of Europe at Rubha Port an t-Seilich, Isle of Islay, western Scotland: Ahrensburgian-style artefacts, absolute dating and geoarchaeology. Journal of Quaternary Science, 30 (5). pp. 396-416. ISSN 0267-8179 doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/jqs.2781
- Wicks, K., Pirie, A. and Mithen, S. (2014) Settlement patterns in the late Mesolithic of western Scotland: the implications of Bayesian analysis of radiocarbon dates and inter-site technological comparisons. Journal of Archaeological Science, 41. pp. 406-422. ISSN 0305-4403 doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2013.07.003
- Wicks, K. and Mithen, S. (2014) The impact of the abrupt 8.2 ka cold event on the Mesolithic population of western Scotland: a Bayesian chronological analysis using ‘activity events’ as a population proxy. Journal of Archaeological Science, 45. pp. 240-269. ISSN 0305-4403 doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2014.02.003
- Mithen, S., Wicks, K., Austin, P., Black, S., Cowie, T., Elliott, S., Ingrem, C. and Smith, S. (2012) Croig Cave: a late Bronze Age ornament deposition and 3,500 years of coastal foraging in NW Mull, Scotland. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 142. pp. 63-132. ISSN 0081-1564
- Wicks, K. (2012) Vegetation history, human impact and climate change during prehistory: an island perspective of the isles of Tiree, Coll and north-west Mull. PhD thesis, University of Reading.
- Wicks, K. In press. Radiocarbon dating and Bayesian chronological analysis. In Mithen, S.J. & Finlayson, B. (eds.) Pre-Pottery Neolithic Settlement at Wadi Feynan, Jordan, Southern Levant. Council for British Research in the Levant publication.
- Wicks, K. & Mithen, S.J. In press. Economy and environment during the early Mesolithic of western Scotland: repeated visits to a fishing locality on a small island in the Inner Hebrides. In, Persson, P., Skar, B., Breivik, H., Riede, F., Simpson, D. & Jonsson, L. (eds.) Early Settlement in North-Western Europe: Climate, Human Ecology, and Subsistence. Sheffield: Equinox Publishing.
- Wicks, K. & Mithen, S.J. 2018. The chronology of Longshan Culture: Preliminary results of geoarchaeological fieldwork and 14C dating at Neolithic settlements in the Haidai Region, northern China. Proceedings of the Satellite Symposium on Longshan Culture, 22nd International Congress of Historical Sciences, Jinan, China, 23-25 August 2015, 231-246.