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Archaeology - 96% for overall satisfaction in the National Student Survey 2020


HEEAL: Historical Ecologies of East African Landscapes



From April-June 2009, Ashley Coutu was awarded a World University Network (WUN) scheme scholarship to conduct isotope analysis in the anthropology department with Professor Stan Ambrose at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.  With the support of the WUN and Ambrose’s lab she was able to run 13C, 15N, 18O and 87Sr/86Sr analysis on 30 elephant specimens, and received training on how to separate  87Sr/86Sr using column chemistry and run samples on a MC-ICP-MS.  She also was able to have several meetings with curators at the Field Museum in Chicago who work on mammal ecology and archaeology in East Africa.

Mr. Biginagwa attended the 10 day research methodology course, Doing mixed methods research on climate interacting with poverty, health and culture, offered by Bergen Summer Research School, 22nd June - 3rd July 2009. In this training various methodological approaches to investigating issues related to climatic change, poverty and culture were explored. Some of these techniques were applied in the field between August and September 2009 and proved their workability.

Daryl Stump attended the Short Intensive Course on ‘Microscopy of Soils and Regoliths in Tropical and Subtropical Regions’ held at the International Training Centre for Post-Graduate Soil Scientists of the Faculty of Sciences at Ghent University, 31st August to 11th September 2009.  Run by Prof. Dr. Georges Stoops (Ghent University), Dr. Vera Marcelino (Ghent University) and Dr. Florias Mees (Royal Museum of Central Africa and Ghent University), the course covered the techniques, concepts, and terminology of thin section analysis and descriptions, and included lectures and practical exercises on optical and electron microscopy, as well as on methods of analysis and quantification.  The second week was devoted to the study of micromorphological characteristics of different types of soil materials and diagnostic horizons, and to the application of these techniques to soil management and degradation.


Ashley Coutu and attended a Stable Isotope Course which ran for one week in July at the University of Bradford, under the direction of Julia Lee-Thorp. A wide range of isotope specialists from different disciplines (archaeology, chemistry, plant biology) lectured on the course and lab work was completed on the mass spectrometers in the Bradford facilities.

In July and August, Coutu was an intern at the Museum Conservation Institute, Smithsonian, Washington DC. She perfected her pre-treatment protocols for isotope analysis of museum specimens, created secondary laboratory standards out of different types of bone material, and took samples for isotope analysis from the Smithsonian Natural History Museum's collection of East African elephants, all of which dated from the early 1900s and many of which were shot by President Teddy Roosevelt.  These samples were run on the Smithsonian's mass spectrometer for carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen isotope values and the data is currently being interpreted.

Related projects

  • KITE York Institute for Tropical Ecosystem Dynamic
  • CELP York Centre for Ecology, Law and Policy
  • SEALINKS Bridging Continents Across the Sea: Multi-disciplinary perspectives on the prehistoric emergence of long-distance maritime contacts
  • PLATINA People Land and Time in Africa 

Key documents

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