Karen Hardy

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)


I joined ICREA in 2008. Following a PhD in the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, I worked on projects based in Hungary, Scotland and Papua New Guinea. From 1997-2005 I co-directed the Scotland's First Settlers project which explored the early post glacial environment and human population around the Isle of Skye, Scotland. In 2005 I was awarded a Marie Curie OIF to visit the University of Sydney where I set up an international project to recover information of the role of plants in human evolutionary and pre-agrarian diets. My return phase took place at the University of York where I remain a research associate.

Research interests

My interest lies in early prehistoric periods before the adoption of farming; specifically, pioneer populations, human adaptations, use of land and sea-scapes and exploitaton of wild plant as food medicine and raw materials. The analysis of chemical compounds and microfossils extracted from  samples of ancient dental calculus provides direct access to biographical details and paleoenvironmental information; this is particularly useful for earlier Palaeolithic periods where the evidence is very limited. Much of my research is also focused on the human use of the Atlantic coastline, specifically in West Africa and North west Europe. In the early postglacial periods, until the mid-Holocene, around 6200, Britain was still physically attached to Europe and the coastline of North West Scotland was part of Europe’s continental limit.

Selected publications

Hardy K & Kubiak Martens L (eds) 2016, ‘Wild Harvest: Plants and people in the pre-agricultural and non-agricultural world’, Studying Scientific Archaeology Series, 2, Oxbow Books, Oxford.

Hardy K et al. 2016, ‘Dental calculus reveals respiratory irritants and ingestion of essential plant-based nutrients at Lower Palaeolithic Qesem Cave Israel’, Quaternary International, 398, 129 – 135.

Hardy K,  Camara A, Pique R,  Dioh E, Gueye M,  Diadhiou HD, Faye M & Carré M 2016, ‘Shellfishing and shell midden construction in the Saloum Delta, Senegal’, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 41, 19–32.

Hardy K, Buckley S & Huffman M 2016, ‘Doctors, chefs or hominin animals? Non-edible plants and Neanderthals’, Antiquity, 90, 1373-1379.

– Pique R, Gueye M, Hardy K, Camara A & Dioh E 2016, ‘Not just shellfish: Wild terrestrial resource use among the people of the Saloum Delta, Senegal’ in. Biagetti S & Lugli F (eds), The Intangible Elements of Culture in Ethnoarchaeological Research, 217-230. Dordrecht: Springer.

Hardy K et al. 2016, ‘Scotland’s Intertidal Prehistory: Lub Dubh Aird, a raw material and knapping site in Upper Loch Torridon’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 145, 17-39.

– Radini A, Buckley S, Rosas A, . Estalrrich A, de la Rasilla M & Hardy K* 2016, ‘Neanderthals, trees and dental calculus: new evidence from El Sidron’, Antiquity, 90, 350, 290 – 301.

Selected research activities

Most read article in the Quarterly Review of Biology 2016. Hardy et al 2015 The importance of dietary carbohydrate in human evolution 90(3)251-268.

Field project Origins and dates of the earliest peopling of North West Scotland.

Invited speaker, German Archaeological Institute (DAI) workshop. Dakar, Senegal.

Member of AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK) network Coping with Climate: the legacy of H. heidelbergensis, Universities of Brighton and Southampton.

Vice-president UISPP Committee. Coastal Prehistory and Submerged Landscapes.