Curriculum Vitae

Patrick Roberts received a BA in Archaeology and Anthropology and an MSc in Archaeological Science at the University of Oxford. He completed his DPhil in Archaeological Science, entitled ‘Fruits of the Forest: Human stable isotope ecology and rainforest adaptations in Late Pleistocene and Holocene Sri Lanka’ at the same institution.’ This focused on using stable isotope analysis of human and faunal fossil remains to elucidate Late Pleistocene human rainforest adaptations in Sri Lanka, and the relationship of this data to wider debates regarding the viability of rainforest habitats for long-term foraging by our species. Patrick’s thesis forms part of a wider interest in human adaptations to rainforest environments. He has taken part in UNESCO symposia that bring together archaeologists and anthropologists together to discuss potential solutions for the conservation of ecological and cultural heritage in global tropical forest environments.

As group leader of the Department of Archaeology’s new stable isotope research group, Patrick is committed to applying stable isotope methods within multidisciplinary research programmes that are focused on human palaeoclimates, palaeoenvironments, palaeodiets and palaeomobility. Patrick has a number of international peer-reviewed publications that use stable isotope analysis in a variety of archaeological research contexts: from reconstructing palaeoenvironmental conditions in East and South Africa, South Asia, and Saudi Arabia associated with human habitation of these regions during the Pleistocene to dietary complexities in 18th and 19th century historical populations. Patrick’s other interests include early human cognition, hominin dispersals, megafaunal extinctions, and the relationship between climate change and cultural change in our species.


Roberts, P., Krigbaum, J., Lee-Thorp. In press. Hunting and gathering in prehistoric rainforests: insights from stable isotope analysis. In Forthcoming. Foraging in the Past: Archaeological studies of hunter-gatherer diversity, ed. A. Lemke. Colorado: Colorado University Press.

Roberts P. 2017. Forests of Plenty: Ethnographic and archaeological rainforests as hotspots of human activity. Quaternary International DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2017.03.041

Roberts, P., Blumenthal, S.A., Dittus, W., Wedage, O., Lee-Thorp, J.A. 2017. Stable carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen isotope analysis of plants from a South Asian tropical forest: Implications for primatology. American Journal of Primatology. Accepted in press.

Roberts, P., N. Perera, O. Wedage, S. Deraniyagala, J. Perera, S. Eregama, A. Gledhill, M.D. Petraglia, and J.A. Lee-Thorp. 2017. Fruits of the forest: Human stable isotope ecology and rainforest adaptations in Late Pleistocene and Holocene (~ 36 to 3 ka) Sri Lanka. Journal of Human Evolution. Accepted in press.

Roberts, P., Gaffney, D., Lee-Thorp, J., Summerhayes, G. 2017. Persistent tropical foraging  in the Highlands of Terminal Pleistocene-Holocene New Guinea. Nature Ecology and Evolution 0044: doi:10.1038/s41559-016-0044.

Roberts, P., Boivin, N., Lee-Thorp, J., Petraglia, M., Stock, J. 2016. Tropical forests and the genus Homo. Evolutionary Anthropology.

Roberts, P. 2016. Early human adaptation to Late Pleistocene-Holocene rainforests in South Asia. In N. Sanz (ed.). Exploring Frameworks for Tropical Forest Conservation: managing production and consumption for sustainability. Mexico City: UNESCO.

Loftus, E., Roberts, P., Lee-Thorp, J.A. 2016. An isotopic generation: four decades of stable isotope analysis in African archaeology. Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa 51: 88-114.

Perera, N., P. Roberts, and M. Petraglia. 2016. Bone Technology in South Asia from Late Pleistocene Rockshelter Deposits in Sri Lanka. In Forthcoming. Osseous Projectile Weaponry: Towards an Understanding of Pleistocene Cultural Variability, ed. M.C. Langley. VERT Series. New York: Springer-Verlag. In prep.

Roberts, P., Henshilwood, C.S., van Niekerk, K.L., Keene, P., Gledhill, A., Reynard, J., Badenhorst, S., Lee-Thorp, J. 2016. Climate, environment and early human innovation: stable isotope and faunal proxy evidence from archaeological sites (98-59ka) in the southern Cape, South Africa. PLOS ONE: doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0157408

Roberts, P. 2015. ‘We have never been behaviourally modern’: The implications of Material Engagement Theory and Metaplasticity for understanding the Late Pleistocene record of human behaviour. Quaternary International. DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2015.03.011

Roberts, P., Petraglia, M.D. 2015. Pleistocene rainforests: barriers or attractive environments for early human foragers? World Archaeology. DOI:10.1080/00438243.2015.1073119

Roberts, P., Perera, N., Wedage, O., Deraniyagala, S.U., Perera, J., Eregama, S., Gledhill, A., Petraglia, M., Lee-Thorp, J. 2015. Direct evidence for human rainforest resource reliance in Late Pleistocene Sri Lanka. Science 347: 1246-1249.

Roberts, P., Boivin, N., Petraglia, M. 2015. The Sri Lankan ‘Microlithic’ Tradition c. 38,000 to 3,000 Years Ago: Tropical Technologies and Adaptations of Homo sapiens at the Southern Edge of Asia. Journal of World Prehistory 28: 69-112.

Roberts, P., Boivin, N., Petraglia, M., Masser, P., Meece, S., Weisskopf, A., Silva, F., Korisettar, R., Fuller, D. Q. 2015. Local diversity in settlement, demography and subsistence across the southern Indian Neolithic-Iron Age transition: site growth and abandonment at Sanganakallu-Kupgal. Journal of Archaeological and Anthropological Science. DOI 10.1007/s12520-015-0240-9

Roberts, P., Delson, E., Miracle, P., Ditchfield, P., Roberts, R.G., Jacobs, Z., Blinkhorn, J., Ciochon, R.L., Fleagle, J.G., Frost, S.R., Gilbert, C.C., Gunnell, G.F., Harrison, T., Korisettar, R., Petraglia, M.D. 2014. Continuity of mammalian fauna over the last 200,000 y in the Indian subcontinent. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111(16): 5848-5853.

Roberts, P., Lee-Thorp, J.A., Mitchell, P.J., Arthur C. 2013. Stable carbon isotopic evidence for climate change across the late Pleistocene to early Holocene from Lesotho, southern Africa. Journal of Quaternary Science 28: 360-369.

Roberts, P., Weston, S., Wild, B., Boston, C., Ditchfield, P., Shortland, A.J., Pollard, M. 2012. The men of Nelson’s Navy: A comparative stable isotope dietary study of late 18th century and early 19th century servicemen from Royal Naval Hospital burial grounds at Plymouth and Gosport, England. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 148: 1-10.  


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