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In 2016, I set up the Stable Isotope Laboratory of the Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. This Laboratory now includes an EA and HTEA IRMS system for the analysis of bulk organics (e.g. bone collagen, charred archaebotanical remains), a Gasbench II IRMS system for the analysis of bulk inorganic (e.g. tooth enamel, shell carbonate), and a GCMS and GC-C-IRMS for the compound specific isotopic analysis of palaeoenvironmental biomarkers from archaeological and non-archaeological sediments.

As head of this laboratory, I have supervised 3 PhD students, and a number of visiting students, as well as 5 postdoctoral researchers. A number of these postdoctoral researchers have already gone on to obtain permanent academic jobs elsewhere. The Stable Isotope Laboratory provides a vibrant and friendly community where archaeology and biochemistry meet to answer pressing questions relating to human palaeodiets, palaeoenvironments, and palaeomobility.  

Stable Isotope Laboratory: About




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Ayushi Nayak received her BA in Archaeology and Anthropology from the University of Oxford. Her dissertation, 'A Stable Isotope Approach to Farming Ecologies in the Indian Neolithic-Chalcolithic', was the first study to apply stable isotope methods to human, faunal, and botanical remains from prehistoric India.

As a PhD student in the Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Ayushi is focusing on the nature of the different trajectories of human activities in prehistory that have led to the hyper-diversity that defines the Indian sub-continent today.

Through the application of biomolecular approaches, particularly stable isotope analysis, her work explores different aspects of the human past in South Asia, such as diet, early farming strategies, population movement, and inter-cultural interactions.


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Victor obtained his B.S. in Forest Engineering at Federal University of Viçosa and his MSc in Science of Tropical Forests at the National Institute of Amazonian Research (INPA), Brazil. His master's research focused on the influence of ancient and modern human populations on Bertholletia excelsa tree communities.

In the Department of Archaeology, Victor is a PhD student for the project “A living archaeology in the Amazonian rainforest”. He is committed to utilising multidisciplinary dendrochronological approaches (including stable isotope analysis) at the interface of forest ecology with human history and archaeology, bringing the natural and social sciences together.

He leads the fieldwork elements of this project that seek to obtain dendrochronological cores and DNA samples from trees in different locations of the Brazilian Amazon. Victor also undertakes consultation with local stakeholders and ethnographic researchers as part of this work.



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W.M.C.Oshan Wedage obtained his B.A in Archaeology from   the University of Sri Jayewardenepura - Sri Lanka and MA   from the Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute of Archaeology Pune, India. His MA Thesis was entitled ‘’Stratigraphical  Analysis of Fa-Hien cave in Sri Lanka comparing stratigraphic excavation in 1988 and 2009".

Following these field experiences he has joined the Department of Archaeology as a PhD Researcher. His PhD Research is titled ‘New Investigations into the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene Rainforest prehistory of Sri Lanka’ and involves the application of multidisciplinary archaeological approaches to Pleistocene and Holocene cave sites in Sri Lanka.

Oshan has 12 years of experience in field excavation and he has successfully finished more than 20 excavations. He has also led excavation teams in the excavation and documentation of important sites such as Fa-Hien Cave, Kithulgala Beli-lena, Varana Cave, and Miniathiliya Open Air Site.

Stable Isotope Laboratory: News & Resources
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