Dr Jade Whitlam
Junior Research Fellow in Archaeology
I read Biological Sciences as an undergraduate at Oxford and have always been interested in how, as humans, we interact with the natural world. After taking a year out from studying I decided to pursue this interest further, undertaking an MSc in Environmental Archaeology and Palaeoenvironments at the University of Birmingham.
For my PhD at the University of Reading, I chose to focus on the relationship between people and plants in the prehistoric past, investigating the transition to agriculture in Iran and Iraq between 12,000 and 7500 years ago.
I returned to Oxford soon after, being awarded a Wainwright Early Career Fellowship in 2017 and more recently a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship. Studying archaeology has turned out to be more rewarding than I ever thought and I am fortunate that my research takes me all over the world from countries such as Iraq and Jordan, to the hills of Tuscany.
I currently tutor St Peter’s archaeology undergraduates, as well as non-archaeology students as part of the college’s academic writing course. I am affiliated with the School of Archaeology where I teach both undergraduate and masters Environmental Archaeology and masters Practical Archaeobotany.
My primary research interest is in elucidating pre-agricultural forms of plant management. In other words, how were people managing plants before, and up to, the emergence of farming. This is a fundamental question, not only for archaeologists but for anyone who is interested in how we manage our natural resources today and in the future.
My current project focuses on this theme, investigating local variability in plant management and consumption in western Asia during the Early Neolithic, in the millennia immediately prior to the appearance of fully-developed agricultural societies.
I also oversee the Tell Nebi Mend archaeobotanical project, which examines long term patterns in farming from the Late Neolithic to the Iron Age in western Syria. Specifically, how agricultural practices vary with changes in the climate and socio-political landscape over time. More recently, alongside colleagues from the UK and the US, I have been involved in setting-up archaeobotanical programmes at a number of Etruscan sites in northern Italy.
Further information and publications can be found here.