Patrick Roberts

Patrick Roberts
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History · Department of Archaeology

MSc, DPhil Archaeological Science

About

162
Publications
86,779
Reads
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2,699
Citations
Citations since 2017
144 Research Items
2612 Citations
20172018201920202021202220230200400600800
20172018201920202021202220230200400600800
20172018201920202021202220230200400600800
20172018201920202021202220230200400600800
Additional affiliations
May 2014 - present
University of Oxford
Position
  • Undergraduate tutor for the paper 'The Nature of Archaeological Enquiry'
October 2013 - April 2014
University of Oxford
Position
  • Undergraduate tutor for the paper 'Introduction to World Archaeology'
October 2012 - present
University of Oxford
Position
  • Undergraduate Tutor for the papers 'Introduction to World Archaeology' and 'The Nature of Archaeological Enquiry'
Education
October 2012 - September 2013
University of Oxford
Field of study
  • Archaeological Science
October 2009 - June 2012
University of Oxford
Field of study
  • Archaeology and Anthropology

Publications

Publications (162)
Article
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Human occupation of tropical rainforest habitats is thought to be a mainly Holocene phenomenon. Although archaeological and paleoenvironmental data have hinted at pre-Holocene rainforest foraging, earlier human reliance on rainforest resources has not been shown directly. We applied stable carbon and oxygen isotope analysis to human and faunal toot...
Article
Tropical forests constitute some of the most diverse and complex terrestrial ecosystems on the planet. From the Miocene onward, they have acted as a backdrop to the ongoing evolution of our closest living relatives, the great apes, and provided the cradle for the emergence of early hominins, who retained arboreal physiological adaptations at least...
Article
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In the 1980s, anthropologists argued that tropical rainforests were unattractive environments for long-term human navigation, subsistence and occupation. Meanwhile, archaeologists have traditionally held that Homo sapiens only intensively colonized rainforests during the Holocene, from c. 11 thousand years ago (ka). New discoveries and re-appraisal...
Article
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The prehistoric archaeology of Sri Lanka is of considerable significance for investigations of the evolution, dispersal and adaptation of our species within a variety of environments beyond Africa during the Late Pleistocene. In particular, the archaeological and fossil sequences of Sri Lanka’s ‘Microlithic tradition’, c. 38,000–3,000 cal. years BP...
Article
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Significance Mammalian extinction during the past several hundred thousand years has been a major focus for evolutionary biologists, geologists, and archaeologists, often being linked to climate change and human overhunting. Until relatively recently, study has been largely restricted to the Americas, Europe, and Australasia. We present the oldest...
Article
Growing reliance on animal and plant domestication in the Near East and beyond during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) (the ninth to eighth millennium BC) has often been associated with a "revolutionary" social transformation from mobility toward more sedentary lifestyles. We are able to yield nuanced insights into the process of the Neolithizati...
Article
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Extinct megafaunal mammals in the Americas are often linked to seed-dispersal mutualisms with large-fruiting tree species, but large-fruiting species in Europe and Asia have received far less attention. Several species of arboreal Maloideae (apples and pears) and Prunoideae (plums and peaches) evolved large fruits starting around nine million years...
Article
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Plant materials used in the construction of segments and beacon towers of the ancient Great Wall in northwestern China contain untapped potential for revealing local paleoclimatic and environmental conditions. For the first time, we characterize the molecular preservation and stable carbon and nitrogen isotope compositions of AMS-dated common reeds...
Article
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Over the last three decades, Sri Lanka has risen to international prominence as a key area for exploring past forager adaptations. Much of this discussion has focused on the lowland rainforests of the Wet Zone of the island, and their preservation of the earliest fossils of our species, bone tools, and microlithic technologies in the region ca. 45,...
Article
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The Achaemenids and Sasanian 'Persian' Empires were significant political, economic, and social forces in the Late Iron Age and Late Antiquity Eurasia, respectively, which have left marks on the heritage of the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern world. While attention is often focused on military and political conditions when discussing the prosperit...
Article
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Few human burials from Sri Lankan archaeological contexts have been described. Here we report on the analysis of two early Holocene skeletons, FH8, a young adult female skeleton excavated from Fa Hien-lena and dated to 10,640-10,139 cal BP, and BK1, a middle adult male skeleton excavated at Kuragala and dated to 7,170-6,950 cal BP. The skeletons ar...
Article
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Recent archaeological investigations in Sri Lanka have reported evidence for the exploita- tion and settlement of tropical rainforests by Homo sapiens since c. 48,000 BP. Information on technological approaches used by human populations in rainforest habitats is restricted to two cave sites, Batadomba-lena and Fa-Hien Lena. Here, we provide detaile...
Article
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Santiago de Compostela is, together with Rome and Jerusalem, one of the three main pilgrimage and religious centres for Catholicism. The belief that the remains of St James the Great, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ, is buried there has stimulated, since their reported discovery in the 9th century AD, a significant flow of people from ac...
Article
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In western and north-western Europe there has been a growing focus on exploring how major economic, political, and social changes during the Medieval period impacted the lived experience of different populations and sectors of society. Stable isotope analysis has proven particularly powerful in this regard, providing direct insights into the long-t...
Article
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Although once considered a ‘counterfeit paradise’, the Amazon Basin is now a region of increasing interest in discussions of pre-colonial tropical land-use and social complexity. Archaeobotany, archaeozoology, remote sensing and palaeoecology have revealed that, by the Late Holocene, populations in different parts of the Amazon Basin were using var...
Article
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The elemental composition of marine mollusk shells can offer valuable information about environmental conditions experienced by a mollusk during its lifespan. Previous studies have shown significant correlations between Mg/Ca concentration ratios measured on biogenic carbonate of mollusk shells and sea surface temperature (SST). Here we propose the...
Article
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Stable isotope analysis of teeth and bones is regularly applied by archeologists and paleoanthropologists seeking to reconstruct diets, ecologies, and environments of past hominin populations. Moving beyond the now prevalent study of stable isotope ratios from bulk materials, researchers are increasingly turning to stable isotope ratios of individu...
Article
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Biochemical and biomolecular archaeology is increasingly used to elucidate the consumption, use, origin, and trade of plants in the past. However, it can be challenging to use biomarkers to identify the taxonomic origin of archaeological plants due to limited knowledge of molecular survival and degradation for many key plant compounds in archaeolog...
Article
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The initial movement of herders and livestock into the eastern steppe is of great interest, as this region has long been home to pastoralist groups. Due to a paucity of faunal remains, however, it has been difficult to discern the timing of the adoption of domesticated ruminants and horses into the region, though recent research on ancient dairying...
Article
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The cooling and drying associated with the so-called ‘8.2 ka event’ have long been hypothesized as having sweeping implications for human societies in the Early Holocene, including some of the last Mesolithic hunter-gatherers in Atlantic Europe. Nevertheless, detailed ‘on-site’ records with which the impacts of broader climate changes on human-rele...
Article
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Megafauna paintings have accompanied the earliest archaeological contexts across the continents, revealing a fundamental inter-relationship between early humans and megafauna during the global human expansion as unfamiliar landscapes were humanized and identities built into new territories. However, the identification of extinct megafauna from rock...
Article
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Some of the earliest evidence for the presence of modern humans in rainforests has come from the fossil deposits of Lida Ajer in Sumatra. Two human teeth from this cave were estimated to be 73–63 thousand years old, which is significantly older than some estimates of modern human migration out of Africa based on genetic data. The deposits were inte...
Article
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Land use modelling is increasingly used by archaeologists and palaeoecologists seeking to quantify and compare the changing influence of humans on the environment. In Southeast Asia, the intensification of rice agriculture and the arrival of European colonizers have both been seen as major catalysts for deforestation, soil erosion, and biodiversity...
Article
Oceania is a key region for studying human dispersals, adaptations and interactions with other hominin populations. Although archaeological evidence now reveals occupation of the region by approximately 65–45 000 years ago, its human fossil record, which has the best potential to provide direct insights into ecological adaptations and population re...
Article
The Iberian Peninsula was at the forefront of the religious, economic, and political changes that swept across Europe during the Medieval Period, including the expansion of Christianity following the disintegration of the Umayyad Caliphate. Between the 9th and the 13th centuries CE, northern Iberia, in particular, witnessed a marked demographic and...
Article
The assessment of the preservation status of archaeological and palaeontological tooth enamel is of vital importance in the interpretation of isotopic and elemental analyses that underpin chronological, dietary, and mobility studies. Transmission and ATR Fourier Transform Infra-red Spectroscopy (FTIR) have provided an important means of studying th...
Article
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The South Asian Monsoon (SAM) brings precipitation crucial for agriculture across the densely populated region of South Asia. Identifying the key long-term drivers of the SAM is essential to improve the predictability of future monsoonal trends in the context of current global climate scenarios and increasingly frequent drought and flooding events...
Article
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Climate variability and hominin evolution are inextricably linked. Yet, hypotheses examining the impact of large-scale climate shifts on hominin landscape ecology are often constrained by proxy data coming from off-site lake and ocean cores and temporal offsets between paleoenvironmental and archaeological records. Additionally, landscape response...
Article
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South Asia hosts the world’s youngest Acheulean sites, with dated records typically restricted to sub-humid landscapes. The Thar Desert marks a major adaptive boundary between monsoonal Asia to the east and the Saharo-Arabian desert belt to the west, making it a key threshold to examine patterns of hominin ecological adaptation and its impacts on p...
Article
The ecological context of human societies living in tropical North America between the terminal Pleistocene and Holocene is of significant interest to scholars studying the last Pleistocene continental colonization of our species and, eventually, the emergence of agriculture in the Americas. However, there are currently few records of direct releva...
Article
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Reconstructing the past variability of marine radiocarbon reservoir effects (MRE) is crucial for generating reliable chronologies for marine species and their consumers. We investigated the temporal MRE variability at the Early-to Mid-Holocene site of El Mazo (Asturias, northern Spain) by using a combination of new and previously published radiocar...
Article
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Plant wax biomarkers are an innovative proxy for reconstructing vegetation composition and structure, rainfall intensity, temperature, and other climatic and environmental dynamics. Traditionally used in earth sciences and climate studies from “off-site” ocean and lake records, biomarker research is now incorporated in archeology and paleoanthropol...
Article
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It has been suggested that Iberian arrival in the Americas in 1492 and subsequent dramatic depopulation led to forest regrowth that had global impacts on atmospheric CO2 concentrations and surface temperatures. Despite tropical forests representing the most important terrestrial carbon stock globally, systematic examination of historical afforestat...
Article
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Tikopia Island, a small and relatively isolated Polynesian Outlier in the Southeast Solomon Islands, supports a remarkably dense human population with minimal external support. Examining long-term trends in human land use on Tikopia through archaeological datasets spanning nearly 3000 years presents an opportunity to investigate pathways to long-te...
Article
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The Middle and Late Bronze Age, a period roughly spanning the 2nd millennium BC (ca. 2000-1200 BC) in the Near East, is frequently referred to as the first 'international age', characterized by intense and far-reaching contacts between different entities from the eastern Mediterranean to the Near East and beyond. In a large-scale tandem study of st...
Article
The advent of Christianity in Nubia (modern Sudan) in the sixth century AD prompted a far-reaching cultural transformation, with changes in material culture, architecture, and cultural practice, marked in the funerary sphere as well. Due to its uneven hydrological conditions, Sudan has always been populated by peoples possessing diverse economic ad...
Article
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Incremental coring of trees is the key method used in non-destructive dendrochronological sampling. Despite the advances in developing such methods, the sampling of large, high-density trees still poses a challenge in remote tropical forests. Manually operated incremental drills, while easy to transport across difficult terrain, limit sample size a...
Article
Today, over half of the people living in South Asia are employed in an agricultural sector that supports one of the most densely populated regions on Earth. Yet the origins of agriculture in this environmentally and culturally diverse region have received relatively little attention compared to other parts of the Old World. Narratives of agricultur...
Article
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Nomads, or highly specialized mobile pastoralists, are prominent features in Central Asian archaeology, and they are often depicted in direct conflict with neighboring sedentary peoples. However, new archaeological findings are showing that the people who many scholars have called nomads engaged in a mixed economic system of farming and herding. Ad...
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The origin and evolution of hominin mortuary practices are topics of intense interest and debate1–3. Human burials dated to the Middle Stone Age (MSA) are exceedingly rare in Africa and unknown in East Africa1–6. Here we describe the partial skeleton of a roughly 2.5- to 3.0-year-old child dating to 78.3 ± 4.1 thousand years ago, which was recovere...
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Significance We provide global assessment of the possible link between Pleistocene hominin arrival and island extinction. The existing records on islands around the world do not support a significant and detrimental impact on island biotas following island colonization prior to the Holocene. This suggests that models using island extinctions as evi...
Preprint
Full-text available
Plant material used in the construction of segments and beacon towers of the ancient Great Wall in northwestern China contain untapped potential for revealing paleoenvironmental conditions. Here, we characterize the molecular preservation and stable carbon and nitrogen isotope compositions of common reeds ( Phragmites ) collected from Great Wall fa...
Article
Full-text available
The tropical forests of the Philippine Archipelago are some of the most threatened in the 21st century. Among the most prominent threats are the introduction of new plant and animal species, as well as new forms of land management (e.g. plantations), that have accompanied industrial expansion. Such threats have a potentially long-term history and p...
Article
In the mid-late nineteenth century thousands flocked to the newly-established British colony of New Zealand in the hope of improving their fortunes and forging a better life. While historical records give us an overview of where these people came from, in many cases the individual stories of the people who make up early colonial society have been l...
Article
The Middle to Later Stone Age transition is a critical period of human behavioral change that has been variously argued to pertain to the emergence of modern cognition, substantial population growth, and major dispersals of Homo sapiens within and beyond Africa. However, there is little consensus about when the transition occurred, the geographic p...
Article
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Measurement of the elemental composition of shells is increasingly emerging as an avenue for obtaining high-resolution insights into paleoclimate and past seasonality. Several studies have shown significant correlations between Mg/Ca ratios measured on shell carbonate and the sea surface temperature (SST) within which this carbonate was precipitate...
Article
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Megafaunal extinctions are recurring events that cause evolutionary ripples, as cascades of secondary extinctions and shifting selective pressures reshape ecosystems. Megafaunal browsers and grazers are major ecosystem engineers, they: keep woody vegetation suppressed; are nitrogen cyclers; and serve as seed dispersers. Most angiosperms possess set...
Article
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The Scythians are frequently presented, in popular and academic thought alike, as highly mobile warrior nomads who posed a great economic risk to growing Mediterranean empires from the Iron Age into the Classical period. Archaeological studies provide evidence of first millennium BCE urbanism in the steppe while historical texts reference steppe ag...
Article
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Little is known about the Pleistocene climatic context of northern Australia at the time of early human settlement. Here we generate a palaeoprecipitation proxy using stable carbon isotope analysis of modern and archaeological pandanus nutshell from Madjedbebe, Australia’s oldest known archaeological site. We document fluctuations in precipitation...
Article
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Many questions still remain regarding the acquisition and circulation of ancient domesticated animals across the Yellow River Basin, one of the key areas for the development of complex societies in ancient China. Here, we re-evaluate previously published strontium isotope data ( ⁸⁷ Sr/ ⁸⁶ Sr, n = 167) from tooth enamel of domesticated animals at 10...
Article
Although recognized as one of the most significant cultural transformations in North America, the reintroduction of the horse to the continent after AD 1492 has been rarely addressed by archaeological science. A key contributing factor behind this limited study is the apparent absence of equine skeletal remains from early historic archaeological co...
Article
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Cosmetic has a long history in China while its origin has remained unclear. It potentially originated in the Spring and Autumn period (770‐476 BC) but little is known about its early manufacture and use. The Liujiawa Site, located at the southern edge of the Loess Plateau in northern China, was the late capital of the Rui State in the early to midd...
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The ‘Wet Tropics’ of Australia host a unique variety of plant lineages that trace their origins to the super-continent of Gondwanaland. While these ‘ancient’ evolutionary records are rightly emphasised in current management of the region, multidisciplinary research and lobbying by Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples have also demonstrated the significanc...