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Understanding early farmers

24 January 2012

Specialists from the worlds of science, archaeology and anthropology will come together in a conference at Cardiff University to discuss collaborative approaches to the study of prehistory.

Traditionally, science and art are considered as separate lines of enquiry by archaeologists, with each discipline seeking answers to different questions. However, the last decade has seen an increase in the number of fruitful collaborative projects between the two. It has been accompanied by a growing realisation that merging the spheres of art and science can provide profound insights.

Organised by Professor Alasdair Whittle and Dr Penny Bickle from the University’s School of History, Archaeology and Religion, the Early Farmers Conference will see keynote speakers from Europe and North America address four themes on early European farming cultures – materialities (the role of tools and objects); lifeways (investigating personal biographies); subsistence (the role of foodways); and relations and descent (models of social interaction).

The topics cover a wide range of specialisms from the prehistoric past to human cultures and different methodologies for each, providing a rich source of debate about recent advances in current models of farming.

Professor Alasdair Whittle said: "Early Farmers brings together vital new research that has forced the reconsideration of long held assumptions about the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition, the social organisation of the earliest farmers and individual biographies of past persons.

"The conference will provide an essential and timely forum for dialogue on new results and methodology and will encourage collaboration between different specialists. It has the potential to impact positively on the direction of future research."

Following the conference, Professor Whittle and Dr Bickle will publish a review featuring the papers presented at the event, as well as other selected contributions.

Professor Whittle added: "Our publication will give a real insight into recent achievements in research on prehistory as well as promoting best practice in the application of new methodologies."

The Early Farmers Conference takes place over three days from 15-17 May 2012. More information on the conference and tickets is available here. Early Farmers Conference is funded by the British Academy.

Notes to editors

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, University President Professor Sir Martin Evans.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Three major new Research Institutes, offering radical new approaches to neurosciences and mental health, cancer stem cells and sustainable places were announced by the University in 2010.

For further information, contact:

Victoria Dando,

Public Relations,

Cardiff University,

Tel: 02920 879074