Dr. James Blinkhorn
I am co-director of new Palaeolithic excavations at Rajagala Thenna, Eastern Province, Sri Lanka, and am engaged in a wide range of interdisciplinary studies of South Asian prehistory and global Palaeolithic archaeology investigating long term interactions between human behaviour and ecology.
The excavations at Rajagala Thenna are the first to examine Palaeolithic occupation in the dry zone and so will open up a new chapter in Sri Lanka's prehistory. The use of digital recording methods in the field combined with high resolution sampling protocols enable the application of diverse analytical methodologies to study the sites material culture, population history, chronology and environments. This research investigates how the occupation and behaviour in the dry zone differs from evidence from established studies of wet zone Pleistocene sites in Sri Lanka, how this fits into regional and inter-regional patterns of cultural evolution and modern human expansion, and how Pleistocene populations engaged with radically different ecological structures than span southern Asia.
My wider South Asian research focuses upon how hominin populations have engaged with patterns of palaeoenvironmental change in western South Asia, a critical boundary between the Saharo-Arabian desert belt to the west and the monsoonal, mosaic habitats of the Oriental biogeographic zone to the east. Archaeological approaches include excavation and survey of new Palaeolithic sites in Rajasthan and Gujarat, India, combined with revisiting and revising the results of previous studies in the region based on published archives and museum collections. This is complemented by new palaeoenvironmental survey and studies, prioritising humid landscape proxies in this arid region to better understand when the region was habitable to hominin populations.
I have ongoing interests in the study of rock art landscapes in southern India. This is focused upon changing patterns of landscape enculturation with the spread of agropastoralism into Kurnool District, Andhra Pradesh, a region of enduring occupation by hunting and gathering groups. The rich record of occupation, rock art production and creation of megaliths augments economic evidence for complex interactions between populations with distinct lifeways that highlights the region as a symbolic frontier.
Beyond South Asia, my research involves fieldwork in poorly known regions of the world, including coastal Kenya, Madagascar, Senegal and the Arabian penninsula, spanning the Iron Age to Lower Palaeolithic and the application of multidisciplinary methods, such as digital recording, GIS, geoarchaeology, and palaeoenvironmental studies.
2016 Blinkhorn, J. South Asian Rock Art Research 2010-2014, in Rock Art Studies: News of the World V, Bahn, P., N. Franklin, & M. Strecker, (Eds). Oxford: Oxbow Books. pp 155-162.
2016 Blinkhorn, J., Scerri, E., Groucutt, H., Delagnes, A. Middle Palaeolithic in the Desert 2. Quaternary International 408B, 1-3.
2015 Scerri, E. M. L., Blinkhorn, J., Groucutt, H. S., Niang, K. The Middle Stone Age Archaeology of the Senegal River Valley. Quaternary International 408B, 16-32.
2016 Scerri, E.M.L., Gravina, B., Blinkhorn, J., Faivre, J-P., Delagnes, A. Can lithic attribute analyses identify discrete reduction trajectories? A quantitative study using refitted lithic sets. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 23, 669-691
2015 Blinkhorn, J., Achyuthan, H., Petraglia, M. D. Ostrich expansion into India during the Late Pleistocene: Implications for continental dispersal corridors. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 417, 80-90.
2015 Blinkhorn, J., Achyuthan, H., Ajithprasad, P. Middle Palaeolithic point technologies in the Thar Desert, India. Quaternary International 382, 237-249.
2015 Blinkhorn, J. The Digital Future of Prehistoric Rock Art in India. Chitrolekha International Magazine of Art and Design 5 (4)
2015 Groucutt, H.S., Petraglia, M.D., Bailey, G., Scerri, E.M.L., Parton, A., Clark-Balzan, L., Jennings, R.P., Lewis, L., Blinkhorn, J., Drake, N. A., Breeze, P. S., Inglis, R. H., Deves, M. H., Meredith-Williams, M., Boivin, N., Thomas, M. G., Scally, A. Rethinking the dispersal of Homo sapiens out of Africa. Evolutionary Anthropology 24, 149-164.
2015 Groucutt, H., Scerri, E., Lewis, L., Clark-Balzan, L., Blinkhorn, J., Jennings, R., Parton, A., Petraglia, M. Stone tool assemblages and models for the dispersal of Homo sapiens out of Africa. Quaternary International 382, 8-30.
Education and Employment:
2015 - 2016, Post-Doctoral Research Associate, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge
2013-2015, Fondation Fyssen Post-Doctoral Researcher, UMR5199 (CNRS) PACEA, Université de Bordeaux
2009-2012, DPhil in Archaeological Science, Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, School of Archaeology, University of Oxford
2007-2008, MPhil in Biological Anthropology, Leverhulme Centre for the Study of Human Evolution, Department of Biological Anthropology, University of Cambridge
2001-2004 BA in Archaeology and Anthropology, Faculty of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge (MA (Cantab) 2008)