My research interests lie in the application of isotope geochemistry to the study of archaeological societies and the environments in which they lived. In particular I employ isotopic systems that can help date key events, investigate the procurement, exploitation and consumption of raw materials, and shed light on patterns of population mobility. I am also interested in the wider implications of my research in related disciplines and the continued development of related analytical techniques, including novel ion exchange chromatographic procedures and the application of laser ablation systems.
I am currently working on the project Dating the origins and development of Palaeolithic cave painting in Europe by U-series disequilibrium. Here I am dating thin calcite layers that form overlying Palaeolithic cave paintings and engravings in order to constrain their age and help us understand the origins of rock art, one of the most important sources of information regarding symbolic behaviour and belief systems during the Palaeolithic.
I also continue to work in other areas of archaeological science. In particular I am continuing my research into the source of early gold through isotopic and elemental analyses. The Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age witnessed a marked growth in the deployment of exotic materials such as amber, jet and gold; materials often associated with supernatural, magical or cosmological forces and linked to increases in social stratification. Of these, gold is poorly characterised in terms of source, yet recognising patterns of its procurement is crucial if an understanding of the role this material played in prehistoric societies is to be achieved.