Andy Needham awarded a prestigious British Academy Research Fellowship

Posted on 3 July 2019

Andy Needham has been awarded a prestigious three-year British Academy Research Fellowship.

The project, entitled High-resolution analysis of beads and pendants as an indicator of cultural connection in the northwest European Early Mesolithic, aims to explore Mesolithic personal ornaments in northwest Europe using a raft of digital and scientific techniques. Beads and pendants were made and used in highly varied ways during this period, including the use of diverse materials, with and without supplementary engraving and/or colouring, and were worn in different ways, including as part of clothing and on strings.

Andy’s project will analyse what these attributes, and more besides, might tell us about cultural connections between different regions, focussing in particular on beads made in shale and amber. 

Andy will bring to bear his experience in experimental archaeology, working at the Department of Archaeology’s PalaeoHub and YEAR Centre to replicate the beads he studies, before going on to deploy microwear analysis to explore the tools used to produce them. Using these approaches, Andy will create high-resolution reconstructions and comparisons of the object biographies of beads from different sites, which he will use as a foundation to explore cultural contact and connectivity.

When asked about the project, Andy said:

“I would like to thank the British Academy for providing me with this opportunity to continue my research into Mesolithic personal ornament use. I’ve been fascinated by prehistoric artistic expression throughout my career and the project represents an exciting opportunity to apply some new techniques to a wider Mesolithic context, building from my work on personal ornament use at the site of Star Carr. I would like to extend my thanks to the Department of Archaeology, University of York, for hosting my project. I’m really excited to get started.”

Andy’s project will commence in October 2019 and run until September 2022.