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Jennifer Bates, PhD

I am currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvannia, working on the LandCover6k project, the archaeobotanical remains from Kadebakele and other Southern India Neolithic – Early Historic sites and materials from the TwoRains project in the Indus Civilisation c.3200-1300BC.

My research uses archaeobotanical data to explore questions about the broader social, cultural and environmental contexts of how societies were internally organised, how villages and cities interacted during periods of urbanisation and deurbanisation, what happens when cultures meet and interact, and how people reacted during periods of climatic instability. Plants are a critical dataset in these questions. Humans have always had an intimate relationship with plants, they are used in every part of our lives for a multitude of purposes, and form the very environment we live in. But they also have deeper meanings, embedded in them through the cultural structures that interweave with our everyday actions. As such, we can use plants to not only explore fundamental questions about the landscapes of human actions, but the ways people thought about, influenced and were influenced by these floral landscapes. Archaeobotany provides an insight into all aspects of past human life.

I completed an AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK), funded PhD at the Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge 2011-2016, exploring the ineractions between villages and cities during the Indus urbanisation and deurbanisation period c.3200-1300BC in northern India. From there I went on to hold the Trevelyan Research Fellowship position at Selwyn College, University of Cambridge (2015-2018), during which time I led the Indus Borders project, exploring the relationship between the ‘core’ of the Indus and the ‘peripheral’ sites in its borderlands, questioning these dichotomous terms and binary relationships through the lens of food and plant trade. From 2018-2019 I was a Post Doctoral Researcher at the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, Brown University. In addition to these posts, I have consulted on the Montelabate Project in Italy, exploring Etruscan and Roman foodways, the FRAGSUS project in Malta, providing both field and lab experience, the Haua Fteah Project in Libya, looking at long term climatic shifts through phytolith records, and acted as the phytolith specialist for the Must Farm Project, UK.

I study charred, mineralised and waterlogged macroscopic plant remains, and phytolith analysis, and am developing familiarity with pollen and geochemical analytical methodologies.

I am a member of the Penn Paleoecology Lab and the current Lab Safety Officer.


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