I am interested in understanding the complex reciprocal relationships between past human societies and the environments in which they lived. My research at the AMBI lab is focused on the application of soil micromorphology and a suite of organic chemistry techniques to investigate paleoenvironments associated with Neanderthal occupation contexts at Abric del Pastor (MIS 5) and El Salt (MIS 3) in the Alcoy region of the Iberian Peninsula.
My work couples the traditional micromorphological approach with the use of gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and compound specific isotope analysis (CSIA) to identify and characterize microscopic and molecular evidence of the prevailing environmental conditions during the periods of Neanderthal occupation. Specifically, I am targeting ecologically relevant molecular biomarkers contained within the archaeological sediments, for instance those from plants or fungi. The data produced will help to establish the paleoenvironmental context at a high temporal resolution as well as providing an important resource for understanding how Neanderthals interacted with and were affected by their environments during this key chronological interval between MIS 5 and MIS 3. The results of this work will feed into wider debates surrounding the disappearance of Neanderthals from this region.
I have previously carried out research in Ireland which involved morphometric analysis of Patella vulgata shells from Late Mesolithic and Early Neolithic occupation levels of coastal shell middens. The results of this work provided a number of insights into local environmental change and resource exploitation patterns during a period which coincides with the complex transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture.