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Palaeo Diet Meeting

Posted on 30 November 2016

Spring conference to be held by PALAEO

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Friday 24th March, 10.00-17.00

The King’s Manor, Department of Archaeology, University of York

It is a widely held opinion that humans have undertaken dramatic dietary shifts during their evolution. One such shift is a transition from a diet based mostly on plant matter and fruit, in genera such as Australopithecus, to a diet that was heavily dependent on meat procurement by the time of early Homo around 1.8 Mya. Another dietary shift, from hunting and gathering to agriculture occurred considerably later, at the onset of the Holocene around 10,000 years ago. These views are a simplification, and misrepresent the real complexity of the dietary choices available and exploited throughout human history. At this meeting, experts from a range of scientific backgrounds will present their latest research into dietary adaptations and choices in our human past alongside cutting edge methodologies that are allowing us to learn more about our past diets than ever before.


This one-day conference is free for all to attend, including the general public, but please register in advance here and bring your e-ticket along with you. The registration desk with be open from 9.30am in the common room at King's Manor.


Meeting programme

Arrive 9.30-10.00 Coffee in Common Room


10.00 am         Welcome                                 Paul O’Higgins, University of York

10.10 am         Introduction                            Katya Stansfield, University of York


Session 1. Human ancestors 6–0.5 million years ago

10.20 am         Laura Fitton, University of York: Inferring dietary ecology in the Australopithecines using FEA.

10.40 am         Julia Lee-Thorp, University of Oxford: Tracking the shift from foods of the forest to foods of the savannah using carbon isotopes in hominin tooth enamel.

11.10 am         Alejandro Pérez-Pérez, Universidad de Barcelona: Correlations among dietary indicators in fossil hominins: buccal microwear, occlusal texture, and stable isotopes.


11.40 am         Coffee break


Session 2. Middle and Late Pleistocene

12.10 am         Anita Radini, University of York: Dental calculus and the 'paleodiet': understanding biases generated by non-dietary remains entombed in calculus matrix.

12.30 pm         Amanda Henry, University of Leiden: Neanderthal cooking and the costs of fire.

12.50 pm         Katya StansfieldUniversity of York: Biomechanics of lower jaw in Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic hunter gatherers.

13.10 pm         Isabelle DeGroote, Liverpool John Moores University: Tooth decay at the end of the Late Pleistocene in Northwest Africa.       


1.30 pm           Lunch break


Session 3. Holocene: from the stone age to agriculture

2.30 pm          Louise Humphrey, Natural History Museum: Changing patterns of resource exploitation in Late Pleistocene hunter gatherers at Taforalt, Morocco.

2.50 pm          Hila May, University of Tel-Aviv: Did the subsistence transition at the advent of agriculture modify mandibular morphology?

3.10 pm          Beatriz Gamarra, University of Dublin: Morphometric and diet changes among early and late farmers in Egypt and Sudan.


3.30 pm           Coffee break


Session 4. Holocene: from the stone age to agriculture

4.00 pm           Penny Bickle, University of York: An overview of what isotopic analysis has told us/debates across Europe.

4.20 pm           Miriam Cubas and Alexandre Lucquin, University of York: On the boundary: subsistence practices in the Iberian Peninsula between the Late Mesolithic and the Early Neolithic.

4.40 pm           Oliver Craig, University of York: A culinary perspective on the transition to agriculture in Northern Europe.


5.00 pm           Wine reception till 6.00pm.


Meeting Location

The conference will be held in the medieval city of York, at King's Manor, University of York. King's Manor is a Grade 1 listed building located in the centre of York. It is within very easy walking distance of the train station, local bars, restaurants, and shops. The K/133 lecture theatre will be the venue for the talks while the common room will provide a space for break out, refreshments and registration.

Kings ManorLecture theatreVenue location 

The King's Manor                                              Lecture Theatre                   Venue Location


Food and Drink

Tea, coffee and nibbles will be provided throughout the day. While lunch will not be provided, York has a large number of venues, all within close walking distance of King's Manor.

There will also be a free wine reception in the evening at King's Manor, between 5.00 and 6.00pm, followed by drinks in a local pub.



Being a tourist town, York has a great deal of accommodation on offer, ranging in price and proximity to the city centre. Around King’s Manor you will find many hotels and B&Bs. Accommodation is also available on the University of York campus which is a 30 minute walk from the city centre. Please book early as York does get busy at this time of the year.

Useful accommodation links:

York visitor information website

Airbnb York

York University Accommodation


The Fort York Boutique Hostel

Youth Hostel Association

Some Central Hotels:


Premier Inn (York City Blossom St North or South)


Travelodge (York Central or York Central Micklegate)



We thank our colleagues in PALAEO for support in logistics and facilities

The European Union's FP7 research and innovation programme, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement 622846 PIIF-GA-2013-622846, Acronym: BIOMAN, supported the work of E Stansfield and contributed support to this meeting.

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Further details

For further information about the meeting, please contact