Radiocarbon Dating

Based for 12 years at the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, I gained extensive hands-on experience in developing, testing and mainstreaming new sampling techniques and chemistry protocols for the radiocarbon dating of bone, charcoal and shell, as well as in the Bayesian statistical analysis of radiocarbon data.

With these tools in hand, I have been investigating the timing and nature of major prehistoric population movements, extinctions, and interaction over the past 100,000 years. Current research themes include, but are not limited to :

  • the timing of Homo sapiens expansion across Eurasia and the interaction between modern and archaic human groups (e.g. Neanderthals, Denisovans).
  • the origins of personal ornamentation and symbolism (marine shell and ostrich eggshell beads, bone points) during the Palaeolithic.
  • the spread of Neolithic farmers across the Aegean in the early Holocene.


Between 2013 and 2017 I worked with the PalaeoChron team at the University of Oxford, on a European Research Council-funded project, led by Prof. Tom Higham and alongside sevral great colleagues.

PalaeoChron investigated one of the most intriguing periods of late human evolution, the transition from the Middle to Early Upper Palaeolithic across Eurasia. We used novel methodologies in radiocarbon and luminescence dating, and applied them on excavated material from over 100 key Palaeolithic sites across Eurasia.

The results of the project are being currently published, one of the major findings being the dating of the Neanderthal dissparearnce in western Europe between 39-41 ka BP.

Early Neolithic in the Aegean

The timing of the Neolithization process (farming economy with cultigens and domesticates, settlements, pottery) across the Aegean has been intensely debated since the mid-20th century. Since 2013, funded by the John Fell Fund (University of Oxford) and by an Early Career Fellowship at the British School at Athens, I have been working towards the dating of key early Neolithic sites. A first publication focused on the site of Knossos. The project is currently expanding in other areas, such as the North and Central Greece and is using aDNA methods to understand the make-up of those incredible first farmers.

Collaborators: Catherine Perlès | Nikos Efstratiou | Antikleia Moundrea- Agrafioti | Georgia Karamitrou- Mentessidi | David Reich

Modern human behaviour

Shell beads are first attested in Middle Stone Age Africa and possibly the Near East, and their presence is usually associated with Homo sapiens. In Europe, such beads become suddenly abundant in the earliest Upper Palaeolithic period at sites spanning  large geographic areas, from Lebanon to Italy and southern Spain, all the way to Russia and Austria. They are thought to represent body ornaments and reflect symbolic behaviour amongst groups of migrating modern humans.

Starting with my doctoral research (2006-2011, supervised by Prof. R.E.M. Hedges, University of Oxford), I became particularly interested in understanding the emergence of Palaeolithic ornamentation. During this time, I worked on more than 200 Upper Palaeolithic shell beads from about 20 cave and open-air sites situated along the Mediterranean rim and beyond.