Reference Collection Plant List

2023-04-14 \\ Outreach

Amanda's research group has been creating a reference collection of starches and phytoliths from modern plants. In an effort to make this reference collection more widely available, we are publishing an excel file of all of the specimens we have examined. The excel file is organized by genus within family, and for each plant we indicate whether we looked for starches or phytoliths, in which plant parts, and whether these microremains were found. If you are interested in getting photos from any species within this reference collection, please contact Amanda!

Website: Emma launches her own website

2020-07-08 \\ Outreach

Emma has launched her own website on the ecology of eating! This is where she'll share her reflections on farming, food sustainability and the politics of food. Check it out via the link below, and follow her on Twitter: @ecofooddev

Handbook on Microremains Published

2020-06-08 \\ Publications

Amanda's edited volume, "The Handbook for the Analysis of Micro-Particles in Archaeological Samples," has been released by Springer! This book provides an introduction to a variety of microremains, including starch grains, phytoliths, diatoms, pollen, coccoliths and others. Each chapter introduces the microremain type, discusses how it's used as a marker of behavior and environment in archaeology, presents how to process samples, and provides lots of pictures to help readers identify their unknown objects. 

Two papers on our research with the Baka

2020-06 \\ Publications

Sandrine has been busy turning the results of her fieldwork into published papers. Our first two paper explores the dietary preferences among the Baka. We discover that while animal foods and domesticate crops are highly valued, certain wild plants, in particular the wild yams, have an important place in Baka diet. Their choices of which foods to eat are driven at least in part by personal preference, as well as by cultural significance of the food items.

The second paper documents a surprising result of our fieldwork: the Baka use more varieties/species of valuable bush mangoes (Irvingiaceae) than previously recognized, due in part to linguistic groupings that were previously not recognized. 

Amanda Interviewed for

2020-05-20 \\ Outreach

Amanda was recently interviewed about her recent article on microremains found in the dental calculus from an early Iron Age cemetary in Finland. This research was led by Tytti Juhola, a PhD student at the University of Helsinki, who is supervised by Amanda. 

Amanda Interviewed for Horizon Magazine

2020-03-27 \\ Outreach

Amanda was interviewed for an article in Horizon Magazine, the EU Research and Innovation Magazine, on her studies in how humans used plant carbohydrates from very early in our evolutionary history. 

Paper on calculus microremains from Iron Age Finland

2019-10-05 \\ Publications

PhD student Tytti Juhola from the University of Helsinki teamed up with Amanda to explore the microremains trapped in the dental calculus of the Iron Age individuals excavated from Luistari cemetary in Finland. While no starch grains were preserved, Tytti and Amanda recovered a large number of othe micro-particles, including feather barbules, phytoliths, parasite eggs and plant fibers.  

Sandrine's research with the Baka

2019-05-22 \\ Outreach

Sandrine worked with a filmographer to create a video about her research on the dietary behaviors of the Baka, a foraging-horticultural society in Cameroon.

Amanda visits German highschool

2019-05-22 \\ Outreach

Amanda has teamed up with a group of motivated and talented high school students at the Leibniz Gymnasium in Leipzig, Germany, to study how hominins living in Europe could have met their nutritional requirements during long northern winters. With the help of their instructor, Dr. Antje Hutchenreuther, the students have been documenting the frequency and appearance of plants that produce tubers that are edible in the winter. 

New paper on Plant Nutritional Variation

2019-01-02 \\ Publications

Our first paper on the influences of nutritional varition among plants in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, South Africa is out! We found that habitat and plant part (i.e., leaf, stem) were stronger drivers of nutritional variation than season. Furthermore, some habitats, such as wetlands, had fewer valuable resources than previously expected.


The paper is available online in the Review of Paleobotany and Palynology. The preprint version is available on our publications page.

Amanda presents at the Studium Generale

2018-12-20 \\ Outreach

The Studium Generale organizes public events, talks, and symposia to showcase the research and activites of Leiden University's Faculty. The fall 2018 program focused on the Future of Archaeology, in part to celebrate 200 years of Archaeology at Leiden University.


Amanda gave a presentation entitled "Eating our way to the top: Diet in Human Evolution" in which she discussed the latest information about diets from the earliest hominins to today. It was a fun, informal evening and the audience had many great questions!

HARVEST in the news

2018-12-20 \\ Outreach

The HARVEST project has been catching the eye of some Dutch media. Two recent articles highlighted the work that has been done by our group.

One, by the local Leidsch Dagblad (paywall) focuses specifically on the research involving dental calculus.

The other was part of the NRC special Christmas Edition, which focuses on the role of meat in human evolution.

Wild Foods Project Vlog

2018-11-26 \\ Outreach

Our colleague and experimental archaeologist Diederik Pomstra ate only wild foods for one month to help us understand how wild foods change the gut microbial community. Not only was he awesome enough to agree to take on this challenge, but Diederik went the extra mile and vlogged about his experience! 


You can see all his videos on the ArchaeologyLeiden YouTube channel. 


We will keep you posted as the results from the gut microbial analyses come in - stay tuned!

Bjørn presents at AAPAs

2018-07-01 \\ Outreach

Bjørn presented the results of his Master's project at this year's AAPAs in Austin, Texas:  “Barking up the Wrong Tree? Searching for sexual dimorphism in deciduous enamel thickness and density”.

His study used micro-computed tomography to explore differences in the enamel properties of milk teeth between boys and girls of a 19th century Dutch archaeological skeletal material. No differences were found between the two sexes, in fact, the differences within the boys and girls subsamples were larger than the differences between them.

New paper on the Costs of Fire

2018-06-28 \\ Publications

Amanda published the results of a pilot study examining the potential energetic costs of collecting fuel. These costs are quite high compared to other activities, and can even outweigh the energetic benefits of cooked foods!


The paper is available online from Quaternary International today. The preprint version is available on our publications page.

Lecture at the Collège de France

2018-06-1 \\ Outreach

Amanda was invited to a Colloquim at the Collège de France on the "Energetics of the Hominins", where she gave a talk on the costs of fire. Two days of talks covered changes in hominin brain size, brain growth, food acquisition and food processing.

Colloquia at the College are open to the public and are recorded. The videos of all of the talks are available online on the Collège's website.