Panorama of the King's Kitchen Garden, Versailles

August 11, 2016, by Hannah O'Regan

Archaeobotanical Adventures in Paris

Hi, my name is Leslie Bode, and I am a 3rd year PhD candidate at the University of Nottingham and am co-supervised between Archaeology (Dr Alexandra Livarda) and Geography (Dr Matthew Jones). I also receive a lot of extra isotope guidance from Dr Angela Lamb at the British Geological Survey.

Last month I presented a talk at the International Working Group for Palaeoethnobotany (IWGP) conference in Paris (July 3-10) and this is a brief summary of what I got up to over there. This trip was kindly funded in part by the UoN Graduate School Travel Prize and the Department of Archaeology.

Hosted by the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, this conference took place in one of the most amazing venues. Surrounded by the unbelievable botanical gardens, grand architecture, zoo, and other museums, most of the week was taken up with over 100 talks in a range of topics/foci from many geographical regions and time periods. This conference only happens every 3 years, and is one of the major gatherings of archaeobotanists in the world.

View of the Eiffel Tower from the welcome drinks reception at the Musee de l'Homme

View of the Eiffel Tower from the welcome drinks reception at the Musee de l’Homme


I had the privilege of presenting some of my PhD research at the conference in the Isotope focused session. My talk focused on the Stable Carbon Isotopic work I have been doing thanks to a NERC Isotope Geosciences Facility grant. I presented a combination of archaeobotanical and stable carbon isotope (δ13C) analysis of charred (carbonized) seed remains from Kharaneh IV (a ca. 20,000 year old archaeological site in the Azraq Basin in Eastern Jordan) to test whether the plants living during this period and, by extension, the hunter-gatherers using this ancient site experienced water stress. I’m especially interested in whether water stress increased leading up to the site’s abandonment almost 20,000 years ago: did a lack of water contribute to collapse?

In between the long days of talks, we also managed to squeeze in a little fun in the evenings, with a lovely welcome reception hosted at the Musée de l’Homme which had unbelievable views of the Eiffel Tower. I also participated in a field trip to the King’s Kitchen Garden at the Palace of Versailles, where we had a private guided tour of the gardens.

It was a great conference and I had a wonderful time reconnecting with friends and colleagues.

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