A Humboldt Research Fellow!

An archaeobotany conference in Paris is a nice place to find out that you’ve been awarded a Humboldt Research Fellowship! I’ll be starting at the Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, in July 2017 after doing a four-month intensive German language course. The wine tasting tonight is very good timing.

The burning question

Although charring doesn’t completely destroy cereal grains and other plant parts, it does cause some changes. Lots of experimental work has shown that heating modern cereal grains to no more than 230˚C for more than 8 hours produces grains that look like their archaeological counterparts. Any hotter than this and they start to “popcorn”, bursting … More The burning question

How do they survive?

Our keyholes for looking into the past are the cereal grains that people were growing and eating. It is astounding that these little pockets of information survive at all, let alone in quantities large enough for us to gain a picture of ancient agriculture. So how can these cereal grains remain intact in the ground … More How do they survive?

The manuring question

The reason why isotopes are useful when we’re trying to find out whether crops were manured or not in the past is that nitrogen, or more precisely the lighter isotope of nitrogen 14N, from manure volatilises very easily (that is the smell you get when you pass a cow’s field). Manured soil therefore contains relatively … More The manuring question