MScRes Project 2020/2021
Here Be Dragons: mapping ecosystem biogeography and species diversity of Upper Palaeolithic Europe, and considering its effects on human culture.
The project consists of using computer software programs to map examples of Palaeolithic cave art, and comparing them to other variables such as habitat and climate data, and wider animal populations. The aim of this is to build up a comprehensive vision of the upper palaeolithic through a human lens, highlighting in particular where the gaps are in cave paintings, and why this might be; e.g. why were there large wolf populations throughout Europe at the time, but almost no canids represented in cave paintings?
The project hopes to present a large amount of information in a way that synthesises the data in an easily-understandable and visually striking way, which may highlight any patterns that occur within the animal, human, and artistic world over the period spanning c. 30-11,000 years BP.
I hope that this research can help provide a solid foundation from which other research (such as investigations into the reason cave paintings were created) can be conducted.
Undergraduate dissertation (unpublished) Bangor University, 2019-2020.
The Palaeolithic Field Guide: Assessing the morphological accuracy of animals in European Upper Palaeolithic Cave Paintings. This project trialled a simple model of breaking up the proportions of general prey and predatory animals and comparing them to the proportions of animals in European cave paintings; the conclusion was that by and large the animals represented are anatomically accurate. The implications for this include the possibility that accurate species depictions could have had a secondary use (to a potential primary symbolic use) as an identification resource, given the large proportion of dangerous prey and predatory species represented across the assessed caves.
The project was a useful step forward in setting a current MScRes project up, because it allows cave paintings to be used to cross-check species present in a particular area in conjunction with the fossil record.
I am a Bangor University MScRes student, and recent graduate of Zoology with Herpetology from Bangor. My current research projects and interests primarily involve Upper Palaeolithic cave paintings and surrounding fauna (palaeo-anthropology or archaeology). I am interested in the way humans and animals interact, particularly the known-on effects on the human brain and mindset, alongside more human-based topics such as folklore and the development of religion.
Outside of anthropology, I am a passionate amateur entomologist, and am also interested in herpetology, with particular interest in UK and European fauna.