Geologist, ceramic specialist and laboratory manager for the Archaeomaterials Group. My primary interest is the raw materials of artifacts, exploring: (1) where they came from and how and why they were used; (2) the technical vs social development of ancient manufacturing processes; (3) the relationship between material culture and landscape.
Recent research activities focus on two World Heritage sites,
1) Çatalhöyük Project. Investigating the role of clay, both as a raw material and a landscape determinant.
2) Chinese high-fired ceramics - a raw materials perspective. A long-standing research theme now in collaboration with the Palace Museum, Beijing. Moving away from conventional chemical characterisations to a more holistic approach that explains ceramic development through raw materials: initially focusing on the Five Great Wares of the Song Dynasty (Ding, Ru, Jun, Guan and Ge wares).
The clay world of Catalhoyuk
New Insights into the Calcium Flux Used in Ancient Longquan and Yue Kilns Based on Strontium Isotopic Compositions
Ma, H, Wood, N, Doherty, C, Zheng, J, Zhou, G, Duan, H
Living with Clay: materials, technology, resources and landscape at Çatalhöyük
The Central Anatolian Neolithic tell site of Çatalhöyük has been extensively studied as an unusually well preserved example of an early agricultural settlement. Located on a vast clay plain and occupied continuously for almost 1200 years (7100-5950 cal BC), its large size and artistically rich clay-based material culture point to clay being a major contributor to the community’s subsistence and symbolic needs. However, the prevailing interpretation of the clay-rich landscape appears to contradict this view. Thick impermeable clay beds underlying the area are thought to have impeded the drainage of seasonal floods, periodically isolating the community in extensive wetlands and forcing a reliance on twelve kilometre distant cereal growing. There is an unresolved tension between the material culture and landscape view of what clay truly afforded Çatalhöyük. The aim of this thesis is to establish the full role of clay in Çatalhöyük’s success, and is first tasked with resolving this tension. The approach taken differs from the top-down single group artifact studies and from landscape models that offer a regional explanation but disregard local actualities. Recognising that clay material culture and clay landscape at Çatalhöyük were intimately linked, this study draws on existing data combined with simple field geology and petrographic analysis to drop down to the common denominator of both of these interacting spheres: clay. The result is a reconstructed landscape interpretation that is no longer at odds either with observed patterns of clay use or broader subsistence practice. The role of clay at Çatalhöyük is re-examined in this more appropriate landscape context to demonstrate a fuller and more complex picture than previously thought. While changing clay use seems to directly reflect past decision making, complex and often hidden feedback between the tell and the immediate landscape was often the real driver for change.
Palaeoenvironmental reconstruction of the alluvial landscape of Neolithic Catalhoyuk, central southern Turkey: The implications for early agriculture and responses to environmental change