7th Pitt Rivers lecture: The Science of early farming in Europe

Non-Society event
Amy Bogaard (University of Oxford)
Talbot Campus, Bournemouth University
Field of wheat in close up


Can archaeology reveal the ‘science’ of early farming from the perspective of its practitioners? How can prehistoric understandings of agriculture inform our view of wider landscapes and monuments? And in an age of ecological crisis, what principles can we glean from the long-term story of farming across Europe’s varied environments? To address such questions, I will draw upon recent research into the nature of early farming in different parts of Europe. While human aDNA provides increasing detail on ‘who’ early farmers were in a phylogenetic sense, diverse scientific approaches and evidence are needed to assess ‘how’ early farming was practised, its evolution in different settings and the communities it shaped. Far from a simple product of finite ‘domestication’ episodes confined to western Asia, early farming was a dynamic process that changed as it spread, absorbing new species and practices while letting others go. By the time farming reached Britain and Ireland, it was in many ways profoundly different to practices in south-east Europe; equally, farming continued to change in different regional settings through time. I argue that early farming in Europe offers lessons of creativity, biodiversity and community that are relevant to future food security.

Amy Bogaard says: I am an archaeologist interested in the nature of past farming, its ecology and implications. I came to this by a circuitous route. I studied Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology at Bryn Mawr College (USA), followed by Sheffield’s MSc in Environmental Archaeology and Palaeoeconomy. The MSc opened up the rich ‘conversation’ between the deep past and present of farming. Following several years as a research assistant, I completed a PhD at Sheffield in 2002, on Neolithic-Bronze Age farming in Central Europe. I was lecturer in archaeological science at Nottingham from 2003-7. Since then I’ve been at Oxford. Current research projects include EXPLO (ERC synergy with Thessaloniki and Bern) and GINI. Further information at: https://www.arch.ox.ac.uk/people/bogaard

The lecture is presented by the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology in association with the Prehistoric Society


Flyer for the event (206.53 KB)