Karen Hardy

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona


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, UK. I am an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh.

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 8000 years ago, 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 2017, 'Shell middens', in Allen M (eds), Molluscs in Archaeology, Series: Studying Scientific Archaelogy, Volume: 3. Oxbow Books.

- Radini A, Nikita E, Buckley S, Copeland L & Hardy K* 2017, 'Beyond food: The multiple pathways for inclusion of materials into ancient dental calculus', Yearbook of Physical Anthropology, 162, S3, 71-83. *Corresponding and senior author  

- Hardy K, Radini A, Buckley S, Blasco R, Copeland L, Burjachs F, Girbal J, Yll R, Carbonell E & Bermudez de Castro J 2017, 'Diet and environment 1.2 million years ago revealed through analysis of dental calculus from Europe's oldest hominin at Sima del Elefante, Spain', The Science of Nature, 104(1-2):2.

- Weyrich LS, Duchene S, Soubrier J, Arriola L, Llamas B, Breen J, Morris AG, Alt KW, Caramelli D, Dresely V, Farrell M, Farrer AG, Francken M, Gully N, Haak W, Hardy K, Harvati K, Held P, Holmes EC, Kaidonis J, Lalueza-Fox C, de la Rasilla M, Rosas A, Semal P, Soltysiak A, Townsend G, Usai D, Wahl J, Huson DH, Dobney K & Cooper A 2017, 'Neanderthal behaviour, diet, and disease inferred from ancient DNA in dental calculus’, Nature, 544, 7650, 357.

- Hardy K & Buckley S 2017, 'Earliest evidence of bitumen from Homo sp. teeth is from El Sidrón', American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 164, 1, 212 - 213.  

- Camara A, Hardy K, Dioh E, Gueye M, Pique R, Carre M, Sall M, Diouf M & Waly M 2017, 'Amas et sites coquilliers du delta du Saloum. Passé et présent.', L'Anthropologie, 121, 1-2, 204-214.

Selected research activities

Member of AHRC network project Coping with climate: the legacy of H. heidelbergensis, Universities of Brighton and Southampton, UK