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 of North West 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, I study pioneer populations, human adaptations, use of land and sea-scapes and exploitaton of wild plants 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 2018, 'Plants in the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic: Food, medicine, and raw materials', Quaternary Science Reviews, 191:393-405

- Copeland L & Hardy K 2018, 'Archaeological Starch', Agronomy, 8, 1, 4.

- Hardy K, Buckley S & Copeland L 2018, 'Pleistocene dental calculus: Recovering information on Paleolithic food items, medicines, paleoenvironment and microbes', Evolutionary Anthropology.  27, 5, 234 - 246.

Selected research activities

Invited speaker, Calpe Conference, 'Neanderthal: The Conference'. Gibraltar Museum, September 2018.  http://www.gibmuseum.gi/events/calpe-18