Research projects

Oxidation pretreatment

Oxidation pretreatment​

Palaeolithic charcoal samples must be treated using the most robust preparative methods to yield reliable dates. Our work on using acid-base-oxidation methods have resulted in substantial improvements in this area. We are now extending this work and refining the method and modifying some of the chemical approaches we have been applying to decontaminate ancient charcoals.

Thomas Higham

Denisova Cave

We work on the key Denisova Cave sequence in the Russian Altai. This is the deepest and most significant Palaeolithic sequence in Siberia. We directly date Early and Initial Upper Palaeolithic archaeology in collaboration with our Russian colleagues. Due to the extremely old age of the site (back to 300,000 years) we also apply other methods (OSL dating) with our colleagues in the Denisova team.

Single compound dating

Single compound & amino acid dating​

It is crucial when radiocarbon dating ancient samples (>30,000 years old) to decontaminate the samples effectively. For bones our group has worked extensively to develop single compound dating, primarily focusing on extracting the amino acid hydroxyproline from bulk bone collagen. This has been achieved using HPLC methods. We are now working on applying other purification methods of amino acid purification to improve the dating of bone collagen samples.

dig site

Ksar Akil

Our group is working on securing funding to renew excavations at the Ksar Akil rockshelter, Antelias, Lebanon, with Dr Corine Yazbeck of the Lebanese University and Ass. Prof. Katerina Douka. We have put together an international team to work on this project. Keep watching this space for more news...

Bayesian modelling source code

Bayesian modelling

We apply Bayesian modelling to build chronometric sequences from archaeological sites, primarily dating from the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic of Eurasia. We have developed novel approaches to this, utilising relative phases and sequences incorporating radiocarbon, OSL and U-series dates, as well as molecular mutation rate data. We build new spatio-temporal models for understanding past changes during this period.

dig site

The IUP of Eurasia

We are working on the chronology and archaeology of the Initial Upper Palaeolithic of Eurasia, at a range of sites spanning from western Europe to eastern Russia. Is. the IUP the signature of Homo sapiens expansion across this vast area or is there more complexity? We aim to apply the latest cutting-edge techniques to find out more.