Karen Hardy
ICREA Research Professor

Profile

Biography

Karen is an ICREA Research Professor at the Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona and an Honorary Research Associate at the University of York.

Career

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.

My interest lies in human adaptations, diet and climate in the late glacial and early post glacial period on Europe’s north-west coast. West coast Scotland is particularly significant in European terms for this time, not only does it represent the most westerly frontier of Europe, it also contains numerous shell middens which in most other parts of Europe no longer exist. The shells preserve organic material which can be used for environmental and cultural reconstruction. My particular dietary interest is in the consumption of non-domesticated starchy plants in the pre and early agricultural past and I extract starch granules trapped in dental calculus to gain direct evidence of the plants that were eaten. Complex carbohydrates provide essential energy and starchy plants are likely to have been important long before agriculture, but evidence of their use is difficult to detect.
My current lab-based research project is focused on exploring ways to use starch granules to reconstruct the starchy food component of pre-agricultural diet. I extract starch granules from archaeological sediment and dental calculus to reconstruct starchy foods in ancient diet. One aspect of this work, in collaboration with the Faculty of Agriculture, Food Science and Natural Resources of the University of Sydney, is to understand how starch, which is a biodegradable material, can survive into archaeological time.

Publications

Full publications list

  • In press. Hardy, K, Estevez, J and Vila, A, 2011 'Early prehistory of Isle of Skye and Adjacent Areas. Discovery and Excavation in Scotland, Volume 11.
  • In Press  Tools were made to be used: use-wear analysis, residues and ethnoarchaeology as a means to determine use in Lithic Technology, Manufacture and Replication Studies Reconsidered. In Bond C.J. (ed.) British Archaeological Reports  International series
  • 2010 Hardy K (Ed.) Archaeological Invisibility and Forgotten Knowledge. Proceedings of the Archaeological Invisibility and Forgotten Knowledge conference, University of Lodz, Poland 5 - 7 September. BAR International Series 2183
  • 2010   Hardy K.   Use of shells as raw material for tools and jewellery in  Mesolithic Scotland. Proceedings of the Archaeomalacology Working Group Meeting , Santander February 2008. Munibe 31:128-137.
  • 2010 Wilson J, Hardy K, Allen R, Copeland L, Wrangham R and Collins M. Automated classification of starch granules using supervised pattern recognition of morphological properties.  Journal of Archaeological Science 37, 594-604
  • 2010 Hardy, K and Pique, R, Early Prehistory of Isle of Skye and Adjacent Areas - Isle of Skye, Raasay and Glenelg (Glenelg, Portree, Sleat parishes) coastal survey', Discovery and Excavation in Scotland, Volume 10 (2009):99.
  • Wilson J, Hardy K, Allen R, Copeland L, Wrangham R and Collins M. Automated classification of starch granules using supervised pattern recognition of morphological properties.  Journal of Archaeological Science 37, 594-604  
  • In Press. Hardy K. Survival, extraction and identification of starch granules at Kaman-Kalehöyük, Turkey. AAS XVI. Kaman, Turkey.
  • 2009. Hardy K, C.R. Wickham-Jones (eds.) Mesolithic and later sites around the Inner Sound, Scotland: the Scotland's First Settlers project 1998 – 2004. SAIR. 31 (Scottish Archaeological Internet Reports) www.sair.org.uk
  • 2009. Hardy K., S Birch, R. Shiel. Bevel-ended bone tools from Scottish Mesolithic sites. In, S. McCartan, R. Schulting, G. Warren and P. Woodman. (Eds.) Mesolithic Horizons: Papers presented at the Seventh International Conference on the Mesolithic in Europe, Belfast 2005. volume II, 766-771 Oxford, Oxbow Books.
  • 2009. Hardy K. Recent stone tool use and material culture of the Wola, Papua New Guinea.  In, S. McCartan, R. Schulting, G. Warren and P. Woodman. (Eds.) Mesolithic Horizons: Papers presented at the Seventh International Conference on the Mesolithic in Europe, Belfast 2005. volume II, 838-844. Oxford, Oxbow Books.  
  • 2009 Hardy K. &  R. Piqué.  Hunters and gatherers on the edge. Foraging for the past at continental limits.  Antiquity (project gallery) 83:320 2009.
  • 2009. Hardy K. & D. H Caldwell Cave-dwelling: new evidence from the west  History Scotland Volume 9:2  March/April 20092009 Hardy K. Blakeney B., Copeland L, Kirkham J., Wrangham R., Collins M. Starch granules, dental calculus and new perspectives on ancient diet. Journal of Archaeological Science 36, 248–255 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2008.09.015
  • 2008. Hardy K. Prehistoric String Theory. How twisted fibres helped to shape the world. Antiquity 82.271·280
  • 2007. Hardy K. Starch. In Çatalhöyük 2007 Archive report. Çatalhöyük Research Project. http://www.catalhoyuk.com/archive_reports/
  • 2007. Hardy K, R. Shiel & D. Manning. Residues and use-wear analysis. In Waddington, C. (Ed.) Mesolithic Settlement in the North Sea Basin. A Case Study from Howick, Northumberland. Oxford, Oxbow.
  • 2007. Hardy K. Food for thought. Tubers, seeds and starch in hunter gatherer diet. Mesolithic Miscellany. 18:2.
    http://www.york.ac.uk/depts/arch/Mesolithic/mmpdf/18.2.pdf
  • 2007 Where would we be without string? Evidence for the use, manufacture and role of string in the Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic of northern Europe. Préhistoire et ethnographie du travail des plantes Actes de la Table ronde de l’Université de Gand (Belgique), 28 novembre 2006. Edited by Valérie Beugnier and Philippe Crombé. BAR International Series 1718, 9-22.
  • 2006 Hardy K. La litica tallada y la cultura material de los Wola, de Papua, Nueva Guinea. Proceedings of the Etnoarqueologia de la prehistòria: més enllà de l’analogia conference. Barcelona Sept 2004. Departament d’Arqueologia i Antropologia. Institucio Mila I Fontanels. CSIC. Barcelona.
  • 2006. Chapman J., Gaydarska B., Hardy K. Does enclosure make a difference? A view from the Balkans..A. Harding, S. Sievers and N. Venclova eds. Enclosing the Past: inside and outside in prehistory. Sheffield, J.R. Collis Publications, pp 5-19.
  • 2006 Hardy K. Plants for food plants as raw materials: plant use in the past and one way to detect it. Past. April 2006.
  • 2004 Hardy K., C. R. Wickham-Jones Scotland’s First Settlers. The study of an archaeological seascape. Proceedings of the Scottish Archaeological Forum 2001: Modern Views - Ancient Lands: New Work and Thought on Cultural Landscape.
  • 2004 Wickham-Jones, C.R., K. Hardy Camas Daraich: A Mesolithic site at Point of Sleat, Skye. SAIR. 12 (Scottish Archaeological Internet Reports) www.sair.org.uk
  • 2003 Hardy K. & P Sillitoe. Material Perspectives: stone tool use and material culture among the Wola, PNG. Internet Archaeology:14.
    http://intarch.ac.uk/journal/issue14/hardy_index.html
  • 2003 Sillitoe P., K. Hardy Living Lithics. Ethnography and archaeology in Highland Papua New Guinea. Antiquity:77, 297:555-566.
  • 2003 Hardy K., C.R. Wickham-Jones Scotland´s First Settlers: An Investigation into Settlement, territoriality and mobility during the Mesolithic in the Inner Sound, Scotland, in L. Larsson, H. Kindgren, A. Åkerlund, K. Kuntsson K. and D. Loeffler, .Mesolithic on the Move: Proceedings of the Meso 2000 conference, Oxford: Oxbow Book
  • 2002 Hardy K., C.R. Wickham-Jones Scotland's First Settlers: the Mesolithic Seascape of the Inner Sound, Skye and its contribution to the early prehistory of Scotland. Antiquity 76(3) 825-833.  

Research

Overview

My research interest lies in understanding the pre-agricultural and early agricultural past. Between1997–2005 I co-directed a major field project on the early human occupation of western Scotland with Caroline Wickham-Jones (Aberdeen). This work focused on detailed coastal survey and test pitting and partial excavation of a Mesolithic shell midden. Over 100 new coastal lithic scatter and shell midden sites were recorded.

The detection of ancient plants both as food and as raw material in the pre and early agricultural past is particularly problematic because survival of plant remains is not always assured. This has resulted in an almost complete absence of evidence for the starchy component of pre-agricultural diet.

Current projects

Carbohydrates in pre-agricultural diet.

Karen’s current lab-based research project has developed out of an EU Marie Curie OIF project (2005-2008) to explore ways to use starch granules to reconstruct the starchy food component of pre-agricultural diet. She extracts starch granules from archaeological sediment and dental calculus to reconstruct starchy foods in ancient diet. One aspect of this work, in collaboration with the Faculty of Agriculture, Food Science and Natural Resources of the University of Sydney, is to understand how starch, which is a biodegradable material, can survive into archaeological time.

Starch granules as indicators of wild plants at Catal Hoyuk, Turkey.

With Dr Julie Wilson, YCCSA, University of York.
Funded by The British Academy
The use of starch granules to identify plants to genus and species is becoming an increasingly widely used resource in archaeology. Starch granules are often assigned to species based upon their morphological characteristics but such studies rely upon the visual comparison between individual archaeological granules with modern reference granules.

The aim of this application is to build upon pilot work to test the validity of starch granule morphology using statistical models built upon data obtained from image processing as a tool for identification of starchy foods in ancient diet. Samples to be used come from the early agricultural site of Catal Hoyuk, Turkey.

The site of Catal Hoyuk is one of the best-preserved, early agricultural sites in the world. My role in this project is to explore the use of non-domesticated carbohydrate sources here, in particular the role of edible wild starchy tubers, particularly Scirpus maritimus, which is common on the site. I am currently building up a picture of starch presence and distribution on the site.  To do this, I take samples from house floors, features, and artifacts from across the site.

El Sidron Neanderthal site

Collaboration, Antonio Rosas and the El Sidrón team, National Museum of Natural Sciences in Madrid.
El Sidrón cave site (Asturias, Spain) represents the most significant Neanderthal site in the Iberian peninsula. Almost 1600 human fossils have been recovered here since 2000. The site is located in a small transversal gallery (Galería del Osario) in the El Sidrón karst system.  The human remains have been directly dated to 49 ka by 14C and other methods (Bastir M. et al 2010. Journal of Human Evolution 58: 68–78). My role is to extract plant microfossils from the dental calculus of Neanderthal fossils, and reconstruct their use of starchy food.

Ireland.

A project funded by the Irish Heritage Council and in collaboration with James Eogan (Nationa lRoads Authority, Ireland) and Meriel McClatchie is creating a reference collection of modern edible starchy plants in Ireland and exploring the survival of starchy plants in archaeological sites here.  In collaboration with BioArch, York, a website http://starch-id.eu has been developed to store all starch granule reference material.

Hunters and Gatherers on the Edge.

Karen has recently begun a new major field project on the Isle of Skye in collaboration with a Catalan research team from the UAB and CSIC, Barcelona and with Katherine Selby , Environment department at York. The Catalan team has recently completed a long term ethnoarchaeological research project in Tierra del Fuego.  Together they will work to develop our understanding of the early occupation of Scotland’s west coast and the environment of the time . The project is funded by the Generalitat de Catalunya and the Ministry of Science and Innovation, Madrid, Spain,

The archaeological record for the Mesolithic in this area consists largely of numerous lithic scatters and shell middens. Most of the huge numbers of caves and rockshelters that exist along parts of the west coast contain archaeological material, both Mesolithic and later, and this offers, perhaps uniquely for Europe, a very extensive, largely undisturbed record of marine exploitation and coastal occupation from the earliest to most recent times. During much of the early Holocene, Britain was a peninsula of Europe and Scotland’s west coast was its western edge. Because of this, the importance of these archaeological remains and the information they contain, stretches beyond Scotland and Britain and becomes significant at the European scale.

A project funded by the Irish Heritage Council and in collaboration with James Eogan and Meriel McClatchie is creating a reference collection of modern edible starchy plants in Ireland and exploring the survival of starchy plants in archaeological sites here.

Ethnoarchaeology of shell-fish collectors

Shell middens can be complicated to excavate and difficult to interpret and an ethnoarchaeological project in Senegal, which will hopefully begin in autumn 2010 will focus on understanding midden structure and social aspects of shell fish collecting. The Saloum Delta in Senegal is the most northerly part of the extensive mangrove swamps that stretch from here southwards round to the Ivory Coast. These swamps are home to some of the last traditional transient shellfish gatherers in the world. A preliminary visit to the region occurred in April 2008 as part of an international workshop on shell middens, which was organised jointly by Karen, Abdoulaye Camara of the Université Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar and Geoff Bailey and funded by the Wenner Gren Foundation and the University of York.

Teaching

Undergraduate

First year



Second year



Third year



External activities

Memberships


Karen Hardy

Contact details

Dr Karen Hardy

Tel: (44) 1904 328806