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Dr Karen Wicks

Associate Director


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


Scientific Archaeology Research Group











Other publications

  • 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.