Accessibility statement

Jess Bates

Research project

Structures and settlement at the Early Mesolithic site of Star Carr: investigating traces of activity through spatial analysis of flint microwear patterns

SupervisorsProfessor Nicky Milner and Dr. Aimée Little

FundingWhite Rose College of the Arts and Humanities (WRoCAH) AHRC

During recent excavations at the world-renowned Mesolithic site of Star Carr, over 24,883 flints were found. This project will go beyond traditional approaches, and analyse these artefacts using microwear and spatial analysis: a high-resolution, forensic approach rarely used in Britain. The results will facilitate a more nuanced understanding of the lives of hunter-gatherers at Star Carr allowing the site to be situated within its broader European context. The study has the potential to transform our ideas about the morphology and function of stone tools: a subject at the very heart of prehistoric archaeology. 


I completed a BA (hons) in Archaeology at the University of York in 2017, focusing on Mesolithic burials to explore the correlation between grave goods and biological sex. From October 2017 I undertook a Masters at the University of Cambridge specialising in Archaeological Sciences with a dissertation that used ancient DNA analysis to investigate how biological identity and societal groups were expressed in the burial layout of an Anglo-Saxon cemetery in Cambridgeshire.

My interests are focused around characterising individuals within Mesolithic societies and the implementation of multi-disciplinary approaches to access unique insights into Mesolithic settlements and structures. I also have a keen interest in more invisible types of material culture and technologies present in Mesolithic contexts, such as the use of plants. More generally, I am interested in funerary archaeology, prehistoric settlements, object biographies, hunter-gatherer societies and the origins of gender.

Alongside my PhD research, I am the Education and Outreach Officer for the York Experimental Archaeology Research (YEAR) centre and I have recently been elected to the Lithics Studies Society committee board (October 2019). I am also co-founder of the York Prehistory Network and an Admissions Assistant for the Department, helping to organise Open Days and Post-Offer Days for prospective undergraduates.

Publications and Awards

Peer-reviewed papers

June 2019. Marcel Keller, Maria A. Spyrou, Christiana L. Scheib, Gunnar U. Neumann, Andreas Kröpelin, Brigitte Haas-Gebhard, Bernd Päffgen, Jochen Haberstroh, Albert Ribera i Lacomba, Claude Raynaud, Craig Cessford, Raphaël Durand, Peter Stadler, Kathrin Nägele, Jessica S. Bates, Bernd Trautmann, Sarah A. Inskip, Joris Peters, John E. Robb,  View ORCID ProfileToomas Kivisild, Dominique Castex, Michael McCormick, Kirsten I. Bos, Michaela Harbeck, Alexander Herbig, and Johannes Krause (2019) ‘Ancient Yersinia pestis genomes from across Western Europe reveal early diversification during the First Pandemic (541–750)’ PNAS 116 (25), 12363-12372. Available at: 

Conference papers

September 2020. ‘Beyond Structures: A microscale multi-proxy approach to understanding the social dimensions of tool using areas at the Early Mesolithic site of Star Carr, UK’. Meso’2020 Tenth International Conference on the Mesolithic in Europe, 7-11th September 2020, Toulouse (France). Digital conference paper: 

March 2020. Needham, A., Bates, J., Groves, M., Langley, A. and Piper, S., Crafting Inclusive Learning Communities using Small Group Practical Work. Annual Learning and Teaching Conference 12, University of York. 

March 2020. Needham, A., Bates, J., Groves, M., Langley, A. and Piper, S. A., Novel Approach to Artefact Studies in Archaeology: Using Experimental Archaeology to Facilitate Deep Learning. Annual Learning and Teaching Conference 12, University of York. 

March 2020. Needham, A., Bates J., Groves, M., Langley, A. and Piper, S., Creating Innovative Learning Methods in Archaeology: Integrating the Practical and the Theoretical in Artefact Studies. Annual Learning and Teaching Conference 12, University of York.

December 2019. ‘A microscale approach to understanding the use of space at the Early Mesolithic site of Star Carr’. Lithics Studies Society ‘Life at the cutting edge: celebrating 40 years of the Lithics Studies Society’, 25th-26th October 2019, National Civil War Museum, Newark (UK). 

September 2019. ‘Investigating the social space of structure at the Early Mesolithic site of Star Carr’. 25th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA) 4-7th September 2019, Bern (Switzerland). 

December 2018. ‘Accessing the individual: Genetic relatedness and identity. With a case study from Anglo Saxons at Barrington A (Edix Hill), Cambridgeshire’, TAG Deva 40th Theoretical Archaeology Group Conference, 17-19th December, Chester. 

September 2018. ‘Genetics Relatedness and Kinship: Ancient DNA Analysis of Anglo-Saxons at Barrington A (Edix Hill) Cambridgeshire’, 24th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA) September 2018, Barcelona (Spain). 

Invited talks

August 2020. Microwear, flint tools and Star Carr. Mesolithic Deeside project, online talk. 

April 2018. Microwear and tool use. Community of Builders Neolithic Trackway project, Hatfield. 

Blog posts

Clarke, A. (analysis undertaken by Bates, J.). July 2020. ‘The story of a flint blade from Aberdeenshire’ Mesolithic Deeside website post. Available at: 

Bates, J. May 2020. ‘YEAR projects: Investigating invisible traces at the Early Mesolithic site of Star Carr: a temporal and spatial analysis of flint microwear patterns’. Blog post for York Experimental Research centre. Available at:

Bates, J. February 2019. ‘Flint never lies: learning how to knap as a complete novice’.

Blog post for York Experimental Archaeology Research centre. Available at:

 Academic Awards

September 2019. WRoCAH Small Award to attend EAA conference in Bern, Switzerland.

July 2018. Clare College, University of Cambridge. To travel to and present at the European Association of Archaeologists in Barcelona, September 2018.

November 2017. Runner up for The Prehistoric Society Undergraduate Dissertation Prize 2017. Awarded to the best undergraduate dissertation in Prehistoric Archaeology.

Teaching & Impact


January-March 2020, Undergraduate Year 2, Research Archaeology: Prehistory 

January-February 2020, Undergraduate Year 2, Themes in Prehistory: Mesolithic

October-December 2019, Undergraduate Year 1, Accessing Archaeology 

February 2018, Undergraduate Year 2, Assisting with week 6 Practical Skills: Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture



April 2020. Is this a place to call home?, HRC PhD Poster Competition 2020. 

October 2019-January 2020. Star Carr: A Mesolithic site in North Yorkshire. PalaeoHub Research Exhibition, University of York library. 

October 2019. Little, A., Bates, J., Curson, J. University Archaeology Day, British Museum, London. 

July 2019. Mesolithic Artefacts. Archaeology Festival, Scarborough Museum. 

July 2019 Little, A., Bates, J., Widening Participation Year 12 session, bead and twine making workshop. 

June 2019. Investigating the skills and behaviours of our prehistoric ancestors. Gifted and Talented Year 10 workshops, Selby High School, York. 

June 2019. Bates, J., Bell, T., Henson, D., Langley, A. and Needham, A., Hunter-gatherer crafts: Sourcing materials, making your own pendant and identifying craft in the past. Festival of Ideas, University of York. 

May 2019. Bates, J. and Needham, A.Living in the Stone Age: The earliest technologies. Pint of Science, York. 

March 2019. Hunter-gatherer detectives. STEM science event Year 5 and 6. Barlby High School, York.

Contact details

Jessica Bates
Department of Archaeology
University of York
YO10 5DD