Posted on 03/01/2014
Royal Holloway Geography Department's central role in the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain (AHOB) project was highlighted in the BBC's Inside Science programme broadcast on Radio 4 on 2nd January 2014. The project is led by Professor Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum, who is also an Honorary Professor in the Department. The AHOB project over the past 12 years has brought together a large team of palaeontologists, archaeologists, geologists and geographers, to pool their expertise in order to unpick the history of our distant ancestors, looking for different kinds of evidence about their lives and environments. At the north Norfolk site of Happisburgh, the crumbling coast line has revealed the oldest examples of human life in Britain, 400,000 years earlier than previous findings of human habitation, in Boxgrove in Sussex.
Professor Danielle Schreve discussed in detail the contribution to the project made by the study of other species that lived around early humans in Britain. The ancient landscape had its share of exotic animals. Hippos have been dug up from Trafalgar Square, mammoths have been excavated from Fleet Street. Danielle is an expert in ancient mammal fossils, and uses these bones to tell more about the ancient climate. Less glamorous than the big fossils, the humble vole is so useful and accurate as a dating tool that it has been nicknamed "the Vole Clock."
Other important contributions to AHOB have been made by Geographers at Royal Holloway, particularly Dr Ian Candy, Dr Adrian Palmer, Dr Sila Pla-Pueyo and Professor Jim Rose.
The BBC broadcast can be accessed here with supporting details here.
The Ancient Human Occupation of Britain project is the basis for a major exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London during 2014, running from 13th Feb to 28th September.