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Hardy, Karen

ICREA Research Professor at UAB (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona). Humanities

I joined ICREA in 2008. Following a PhD in the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, I worked on projects based in Hungary, Scotland and Papua New Guinea. From 1997-2005 I co-directed the Scotland's First Settlers project which explored the early post glacial environment and human population around the Isle of Skye. In 2005 I was awarded a Marie Curie OIF to visit the University of Sydney where I set up an international project on the diagenesis of ancient starch. My return phase took place at the University of York where I remain a research associate.

Research Interests

My interests lie in pioneer populations, human adaptations and diet before agriculture. Until the mid-Holocene, Britain was still physically attached to continental Europe and the coastline of western Scotland represents Europe’s north-west continental limit until around 6200 BC. The sea level fluctuated extensively on the north Atlantic coastlines until the mid-Holocene and the intertidal zone was often exposed. It is an area that has been little investigated in north Britain. A recent project (in press) and membership of SAMPHIRE has started new research into human activity on Europe’s north-west early Holocene Atlantic frontier. Plants were as important in the past as they are today but detection of them is challenging. Dental calculus preserves biographical detail which we extract and identify. This offers new insights into ancient diet and paleo environment as well as cultural aspects of life in the past including the use of teeth as a third hand and even oral hygiene activities.

Key Words

Prehistoric Europe, pre-agricultural diet, ethnoarchaeology, shell middens and coastal archaeology.