Dr Joanna Ostapkowicz

Research Profile


Current Activities

SIBA: Stone Interchanges in the Bahama Archipelago (AHRC, PI; 2017-2019; Host institution: University of Oxford)


This international collaborative project, linked with 8 partner institutions in the Caribbean, UK, Europe and US, aims to better understand the connections between the Lucayans (the people of the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands, ca. AD 600-1550) and the chiefdoms of the Greater Antilles (Cuba/Hispaniola) through the study of over 300 exotic stone artefacts found in the Lucayan archipelago, now in museum collections. The study will use state-of-the-art techniques, developed by Co-I Prof. Gareth Davies (Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam) as part of the Nexus 1492 project, to determine the original source of the stones, and in so doing, will enable researchers to explore the various connections (social, political, economic) between island peoples. 

Black Pitch, Carved Histories: Prehistoric wood sculpture from Trinidad’s Pitch Lake (AHRC, PI; 2014-2016; Host institution: National Museums Liverpool)


The study investigates the chronological and cultural context of wood artefacts recovered from Pitch Lake, Trinidad – the largest concentration of woodcarvings from the Lesser Antilles. Collections held in three international museums have undergone analysis, including the development of radiocarbon techniques specifically targeting pitch contamination issues, led by Co-I Dr. Fiona Brock (Cranfield Forensic Institute), and the establishment of a strontium ‘isoscape’ for the twin islands.

Pre-Hispanic Sculptural Arts in wood (Getty Foundation Collaborative Research Grant, PI; British Academy Large Research Grant, PI; 2007-2010; Host institution: National Museums Liverpool)


The large-scale collaborative project focused on establishing the first chronologies for Caribbean wood carvings. It involved the collections of 20 institutions in 8 countries, and an international team of colleagues, including the Oxford’s Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, UK; the USDA Forest Services, USA; the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany and the Department of Chemistry, University of Pisa, Italy.

  • Florida's Watery Landscapes

  • Owls, otters and pelicans in watery realms

  • To produce “a pleasing effect”: Taíno shell and stone cibas and Spanish cuentas in the early colonial Caribbean

  • Further Insight into Mesoamerican Paint Technology: Unveiling the Colour Palette of the Pre-Columbian Codex Fejérváry-Mayer by Means of Non-invasive Analysis

    Buti, D, Domenici, D, Grazia, C, Ostapkowicz, J, Watts, S, Romani, A, Presciutti, F, Brunetti, BG, Sgamellotti, A, Miliani, C
  • Absence of Saharan dust influence on the strontium isotope ratios on modern trees from the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands – ERRATUM

    Schulting, R, Richards, M, Pouncett, J, Manco, BN, Freid, E, Ostapkowicz, J
  • More
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