The interweaving and interdisciplinary strands of Passage Tomb People make it an ambitious and ground-breaking endeavour. The project ultimately seeks to strengthen interdisciplinary communication, rather than combine a series of ‘black-boxed’ scientific analyses, and brings together a team of like-minded researchers.
Dr Jessica Smyth, Principal Investigator and Lecturer in the UCD School of Archaeology, has a long-standing interest in daily life in prehistory. Initially looking at settlement and domestic architecture in the Neolithic, she now uses both laboratory and library to explore early farming communities.
Prof Jane Downes has research interests in prehistoric and landscape archaeology and in burial archaeology, and is a leading expert on the passage tomb archaeology of the Orkney Islands
The project’s strong emphasis on animal management strategies is supported by Dr Ingrid Mainland (Orkney College UHI) with her extensive research into prehistoric pastoralism, combining stable isotopes and traditional zooarchaeology.
New research into bone protein taphonomy will be undertaken in collaboration with Dr Michael Buckley (University of Manchester), who developed the ZooMS technique and has been investigating bone fragments from Knowth passage tomb with the project PI.
Prof Richard Evershed (University of Bristol) is the leading expert in archaeological lipids, developing the techniques used in organic residue analysis of ancient pottery lipids. He has been collaborating with archaeologists for more than 30 years.
Dr Richard Madgwick (Cardiff University) is another experienced zooarchaeologist combining traditional morphometrics with isotope analysis, and will be bringing important comparative data on Stonehenge and other later Neolithic ceremonial complexes to the project.
Dr Fabienne Pigière is the IRC Laureate Project Fellow and PTP’s lead zooarchaeologist. Previously based at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels, she joined the team in late May 2019. Her role on PTP will be to oversee the skeletal analysis at both macro and molecular levels.
Lilly Olet is the newest member of the PTP team, joining in late September 2019 as an IRC Laureate Project Scholar. Based at the University of Bristol, Lilly’s PhD research will be focused on middle and later Neolithic pottery assemblages, using organic residue analysis and compound-specific radiocarbon dating to investigate resource exploitation and cultural practice across the PTP study regions.