The study of the relationship between humans and their environment is a fundamental part of any research programme seeking to learn more about the past, present, and future of our species. However, all too often archaeologists have attempted to correlate cultural and economic change with ice core, marine, or lake records that have little relevance to the the actual ecological experiences of past human populations. On the other hand, palaeoenvironmental scientists have sought to simplistically link shifts in their studied proxies to the archaeological record. Here, I present a more integrated approach to the investigation of past-human environments. This, in part, involves the production of 'off site' palaeoenvironmental archives to answer archaeological questions and inform on human-relevant habitats. However, it also includes the development of 'on site' stable isotope proxy records that provide insight into the ecological conditions of immediate relevance to human foragers and farmers. The development of such datasets should, in future, enable environmental changes on global, regional, and local scales to be effectively integrated with changes in human technology, subsistence, settlement patterns, and culture.


Dr Patrick Roberts

As group leader of the Department of Archaeology’s stable isotope research group at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Patrick is committed to applying stable isotope methods within multidisciplinary research programmes that are focused on human palaeoclimates, palaeoenvironments, palaeodiets and palaeomobility. Patrick has a number of international peer-reviewed publications that use stable isotope analysis in a variety of archaeological research contexts: from reconstructing palaeoenvironmental conditions in East and South Africa, South Asia, and Saudi Arabia associated with human habitation of these regions during the Pleistocene to dietary complexities in 18th and 19th century historical populations. Patrick’s other interests include early human cognition, hominin dispersals, megafaunal extinctions, and the relationship between climate change and cultural change in our species.


About Archaeology Working Papers

The Working Papers in Archaeology seminar series provides a forum for dissemination of archaeological research and ideas amongst UQ archaeology students and staff. All students are invited to attend the series and postgraduate students, from honours upwards, are invited to present their research. The aim is to provide opportunities for students, staff and those from outside UQ, to present and discuss their work in an informal environment. It is hoped that anyone interested in current archaeological directions, both within and outside the School and University, will be able to attend and contribute to the series.