Although generally concerned with past environments, people and climates, my research profile could be considered somewhat methods orientated. I’m not interested in any particular past time period, culture or geographical region… no that’s wrong… I am interested in any time period, culture or geographical region. What is most interesting to me is how we reconstruct the past, and in particular, how we can use palaeoenvironmental science to do it. And especially using fossil beetles (palaeoentomology).

The use of (semi-)quantitative methods for mapping modern ecological (and ethnographic or historical) data to fossils allows us to increase the transparency and reproducibility of archaeological and palaeoenvironmental interpretation. The environmental reconstructions produced by the BugsCEP software provides a system for doing this with fossil insect remains. It essentially uses a traits database and some very simple statistics to summarise the relative importance of different habitats, as seen by the beetles, represented in a sample. By standardising the results, this allows for comparison between samples and sites.

Comparing the environmental signals from Bronze Age and Roman wells, using fossil beetles

The plan is to expand this system into more proxies (plant macrofossils for starters) and more types of calibration data, as part of the SEAD system.

The continuation of the plan is to use these tools to continue to investigate past human activities, environmental and climate changes. More recently, I have drifted into studying the effects of climate change on cultural heritage from a number of perspectives. See this link and recent publications for more information.