Post-doc Researcher in Focus

Dr Robyn Inglis tell us about SURFACE: Human-Landscape Interactions and Global Dispersals: The Surface Record of Palaeolithic Arabia‌

View across Wadi Dabsa, Southwestern Saudi Arabia; a large basin filled with tufa deposits associated with Palaeolithic artefacts

Robyn is a geoarchaeologist who uses satellite imagery, geomorphological mapping and sedimentological analyses to understand how landscapes, and the opportunities available to populations within them, change over time and in response to environmental changes. She is particularly interested in the ways in which environmental changes over the last 125,000 years shaped the way our species spread across the globe.

After completing an undergraduate degree in Archaeology and Anthropology (Cambridge), and an MSc Geoarchaeology (Reading), for her PhD, Robyn applied sediment micromorphology and associated techniques to unravel the history of sedimentation of the Haua Fteah cave, Libya, to and its implications for understanding environmental change during the Middle to Later Stone Age transition (~40,000 years ago). She has carried out and directed fieldwork in the UK, Europe and the Middle East.



Early Stone Age handaxe encased in tufa, Wadi Dabsa. The tufa, when dated bu U-series dating, will provide a minimum age for the handaxe and activity at the site

She joined York in 2011 as a postdoctoral Research Associate on the ERC-Funded DISPERSE project, where, working with colleagues from the University of Liverpool, Durham, and King Saud University, Riyadh, she carried out multiple seasons of geoarchaeological survey in the Jizan and Air provinces, the first major survey to be carried out in these regions since the 1970s. 

During her current project, SURFACE, Robyn has continued to lead survey in Southwestern Saudi Arabia, examining the ways in which the artefact distributions we see today are shaped by geomorphological components. After 18 months based in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Macquarie University, Sydney, where she worked with experts in arid zone geomorphology and the recording of aboriginal artefact distributions, she has returned to York to examine how these approaches can be applied to the deep time frames of Palaeolithic Saudi Arabia.



Robyn carrying out toographical survey at the Wadi Dabsa archaeological site. Discovered in 2015, the site is the richest locality recorded to date in Southwestern Saudi Arabia

Robyn also has strong research interests in coastal prehistory, and the challenges and opportunities in understanding the impact of sea level change on human populations, particularly in the Mediterranean (See Benjamin et al. 2017, open access), as well as the fundamental role geoarchaeology plays in creating the archaeological record that we observe and interpret today.

Dr Robyn Inglis is a Marie SkÅ‚odowska-Curie Global Fellow based in the Department of Archaeology at the University of York after undertaking an 18-month outgoing pase in the Department of Environmental Sciences, Macquarie University, Australia