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Dr Jessica Smyth 

Jessica Smyth
Position:Research Associate

Telephone:+44 (0)29 208 70546
Location:John Percival Building, Room 4.33

Research interests

My principal research interests lie in piecing together daily life in the Neolithic, a pivotal period in human development, and in trying to balance out narratives that have been dominated by megalithic monuments. Doctoral and early postdoctoral research focused on the settlement archaeology of the Irish Neolithic, in particular domestic architecture, and has resulted in the publication of a substantial corpus of ‘grey literature’ sites framed in their wider social and landscape context.

To further explore aspects of daily life, I have moved into material culture studies and archaeological science, collaborating with the Organic Geochemistry Unit at the University of Bristol (2011-2013) to systematically examine the original contents of a range of pottery vessels through the Irish Neolithic. This has yielded a range of important new data on vessel use, site function, animal husbandry and the prehistoric environment. Planned follow-on projects include further investigation of the isotopic variation (in vegetation and animals) in different prehistoric environments, and the development of micro-analytical ‘toolkits’ to tap the potential of low visibility, poorly-preserved archaeological sites.

I am currently Research Associate with the Times of Their Lives project, funded through an ERC Advanced Investigator Grant (Project PI: Prof Alasdair Whittle). ToTL aims to construct much more precise chronologies for the European Neolithic, exploring the timings and the duration of key events and phenomena. It offers a series of case studies across the continent, applying formal chronological modelling in a Bayesian statistical framework combined with critical, problem-oriented archaeological analysis.

As editor of the Brú na Bóinne WHS Research Framework (Smyth 2009), I am also keen to establish more formal research links between the Stonehenge/Avebury, Orkney and the Bend of the Boyne World Heritage Sites, and thus better integrating the connected archaeologies of Ireland and Britain.

Selected Publications

Smyth, J. and Evershed, R. Forthcoming. Milking the megafauna: the role of organic residue analysis in understanding early farming practice. Journal of Environmental Archaeology.

Smyth, J. 2014. Settlement in Neolithic Ireland: new discoveries on the edge of Europe, Prehistoric Society Research Paper 6. Oxford: Prehistoric Society.

Cramp, L.J.E., Jones, J., Sheridan, A., Smyth, J., Whelton, H., Mulville, J., Sharples, N. and Evershed, R. 2014. Immediate replacement of fishing with dairying by the earliest farmers of the northeast Atlantic archipelagos. Proceedings of the Royal Society B (doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.2372)

Hofmann, D. and Smyth, J. (eds) 2013. The Neolithic house: tracking sedentism, domesticity and practice. New York: Springer.

Smyth, J. 2009. Brú na Bóinne World Heritage Site Research Framework. Kilkenny: The Heritage Council.

Additional Information

I contribute to the following modules: