Accessibility statement

Carl Heron
Director of Scientific Research, British Museum



Carl Heron is Director of Scientific Research with overall responsibility for the team of scientists in the museum. The position, currently funded by the Wellcome Trust, has the strategic aim of enhancing research in bioarchaeology - the study of organic artefacts, remains and residues from the Museum collections deploying state-of-the-art molecular and isotopic approaches.  He is also Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of York working closely with our Bioarchaelogy group.

Carl’s research interests focus on the identification of organic matter preserved in association with archaeological materials. He applies analytical organic chemistry to archaeological questions such as artefact function, trade and exchange and the study of technological processes. He has a particular interest in molecular and isotopic characterisation of organic residues associated with ceramic containers and in the identification of organic substances used in mortuary processes.


Carl joined the British Museum in 2016 after more than 25 years at the University of Bradford. He holds a degree in Archaeological Sciences, also from Bradford, a PhD from University College, Cardiff and post-doctoral experience at the University of Liverpool. Carl was head of Archaeological Sciences at Bradford from 1999-2001 and 2010-2014, and Dean of Archaeological, Geographical and Environmental Sciences from 2001-2006. From 2004 he was Professor of Archaeological Sciences.



Carl is supervising, with Oliver Craig, one PhD student at the University of York. With Wellcome Trust funding, Edward Standall is researching, Plants in Pots: The molecular and isotopic identification of cereal residues in prehistoric pottery. The research focuses on molecular and isotopic evidence for the processing of cereals, notably millet, in prehistoric pottery. He is also collaborating with Dr Anita Radini (University of York) who holds a Wellcome Research Fellowship in Medical Humanities, 2018-2021, for the project, A taste of hard work: assessing the utility of ancient tartar to track exposure to respiratory irritants of occupational origin in ancient skeletal remains.

Carl leads the ERC-funded Advanced Grant "The Innovation, Dispersal and Use of Ceramics in NE Europe" (INDUCE; The project includes the University of York (Prof. Oliver Craig) and the Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology (ZBSA), Schleswig, Germany (John Meadows), and aims to tackle the origins, adoption and use of pottery vessels by hunter-gatherers in north-east Europe.


Selected publications


Robson, H.K., Skipitytė, R., Piličiauskienė, G., Lucquin, A., Heron, C., Craig, O.E., Piličiauskas, G. 2019: Diet, cuisine and consumption practices of the first farmers in the south-eastern Baltic. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences.


Lucquin, A., Robson, H.K., Eley, Y., Shoda, S., Veltcheva, D., Gibbs, K., Heron, C.P., Isaksson, S., Nishida, Y., Taniguchi, Y., Nakajima, S., Kobayashi, K., Jordan, P., Kaner, S., Craig, O.E. (2018). The impact of environmental change on the use of early pottery by East Asian hunter-gatherers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 

Piličiauskas, G., Skipitytė, R., Heron, C. 2018: Mityba Lietuvoje 4500–1200 cal bc maisto liekanų keramikoje bendrųjų mėginių izotopinių tyrimų duomenimis. Lietuvos Archeologija 44: 9-37.

Brettell, R., Schotsmans, E., Martin, W., Stern, B. and Heron, C. (2018) The Final Masquerade: Resinous substances and Roman mortuary rites, Livarda, A., Madgwick, R. and Riera Mora, S. (eds) The Bioarchaeology of Ritual and Religion. Oxbow Books, Oxford: 44-57. 


Larsson, L. Sjöström, A. and Heron, C. (2017) The Rönneholm arrow. Lund Archaeological Review 2016. 22: 7-20. 

Pollard, A.M., Heron, C. and Armitage, R.A. (2017) Archaeological Chemistry. 3rdedition. Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge.

For a full list of publications, please visit my orcid page:


External activities


Honorary Professor, University of Bradford (2016 to date)

Honorary Visiting Professor, University of York (2016 to date)

Honorary Professor, University College London (2018 to date)

Member, Humboldt Foundation Network

Contact details

Professor Carl Heron
Director of Scientific Research
British Museum
Great Russell Street