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.
Published Journal Articles
Roberts, P., Stewart, M., Alagaili, A.N., Breeze, P., Candy, I., Drake, N., Groucutt, H.S., Scerri, E.M.L., Lee-Thorp, J., Louys, J., Zalmout, I.S., Al-Mufarreh, Y.S.A., Zech, J., Alsharekh, A.M., al Omari, A., Boivin, N., Petraglia, M. 2018. Fossil herbivore stable isotopes reveal Middle Pleistocene hominin palaeoenvironment in ‘Green Arabia’. Nature Ecology and Evolution DOI: 10.1038/s41559-018-0698-9.
Roberts, P., Stewart, B. 2018. Defining the ‘generalist-specialist’ niche for Pleistocene Homo sapiens. Nature Human Behaviour DOI: 10.1038/s41562-018-0394-4.
Roberts, P., Boivin, N., Kaplan, J. 2018. Finding the anthropocene in tropical forests. Anthropocene 23: 5-16.
Ventresca Miller, A., Fernandes, R., Janzen, A., Nayak, A., Swift, J., Zech, J., Boivin, N., Roberts, P. 2018. Sampling and pretreatment of tooth enamel carbonate for stable carbon and oxygen isotope analysis. Journal of Visual Experiments 138: e58002, doi:10.3791/58002.
Roberts, P., Gillingwater, T., Lahr, M., Lee-Thorp, J., MacCallum, M., Petraglia, M., Wedage, O., Heenbanda, U., Wanniya-laeto, U. 2018. Historical tropical forest reliance amongst the Wanniyalaeto (Vedda) of Sri Lanka: an isotopic perspective. Human Ecology: DOI: 10.1007/s10745-018-9997-7.
Swift, J., Roberts P., Boivin, N., Kirch, P. 2018. Restructuring of nutrient flows in island ecoystems following human colonization evidenced by isotopic analysis of commensal rats. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1805787115.
Shipton, C., Roberts, P., Armitage, S., Blinkhorn, J., Crowther, A., Curtis, R., d’Errico, F., Douka, K., Faulkner, P., Groucutt, H.S., Helm, R., Herries, A.I.R., Kourampas, N., Lee-Thorp, J., Marchant, R., Marti, A.P., Mbita, C., Mercader, J., Prendergast, M., Rowson, B., Tengeza, A., Tibesasa, R., White, T.S., Petraglia, M.D., Boivin, N. 2018. A 78,000-year-old record of tropical adaptation and complex human behaviour in coastal East Africa. Nature Communications https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-04057-3.
Roberts, P., Fernandes, R., Craig, O.E., Larsen, T., Lucquin, A., Swift, J., Zech, J. 2018. Calling all archaeologists: guidelines for terminology. Data handling, reporting, and reviewing stable isotope applications in archaeology. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry https://doi.org/10.1002/rcm.8044.
Posth, C., Nagele, K., Colleran, H., Valentin, F., Bedford, S., Kami, K., Shing, R., Buckley, H., Kinaston, R., Walworth, M., Clark, G., Reepmeyer, C., Flexner, J., Maric, T., Moser, J., Gresky, J., Kiko, L., Robson, K., Auckland, K., Oppenheimer, S., Hill, A., Mentzer, A., Zech, J., Petchey, F., Roberts, P., Jeong, C., Gray, R., Krause, J., Powell. A. 2018. Language continuity despite population replacement in Remote Oceania. Nature Ecology and Evolution: 2: 731-740.
Roberts, P., Hunt, C., Arroyo-Kalin, M., Evans, D., Boivin, N. 2017. The deep human prehistory of global tropical forests and its relevance for modern conservation. Nature Plants 3: 17093.
Roberts, P., Blinkhorn, J., Petraglia, M. 2017. A transect of environmental variability across South Asia and its influence on Late Pleistocene human innovation and occupation. Journal of Quaternary Science. DOI: 10.1002/jqs.2975.
Roberts, P. 2017. Book review of ‘Journeys into the Rainforest: archaeology of culture change and continuity on the Evelyn Tableland, North Queensland’ by Åsa Ferrier. Archaeology in Oceania. DOI: 10.1002/arco.5133.
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. DOI: 10.1002/ajp.22656.
Roberts, P., Perera, N., Wedage, O., Deraniyagala, S.U., Perera, J., Eregama, S., Gledhill, A., Petraglia, M., Lee-Thorp, J. 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 106: 102-118.
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 25: 306-317.
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.
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.
In press: Roberts, P., Hendy, J., Boivin, N. Scientific practice. In The Society for Archaeological Science Encyclopaedia of Archaeological Sciences. The Society for Archaeological Science. United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell.
In press: Roberts, P., Krigbaum, J.A. Lee-Thorp. Hunting and gathering in prehistoric rainforests: insights from stable isotope analysis. In A. Lemke (ed.). Foraging in the Past: Archaeological Studies of Hunter-gatherer Diversity. Colorado: Colorado University Press. Pp. 119-158.
Roberts, P. 2018. Late Pleistocene tropical rainforest forager sustainability and resilience. In N. Sanz (ed.). Exploring Frameworks for Tropical Forest Conservation: Managing Production and Consumption for Sustainability. Mexico City: UNESCO. Pp. 116-135.
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. Pp. 28-44.
Perera, N., P. Roberts, and M. Petraglia. 2016. Bone Technology in South Asia from Late Pleistocene rockshelter deposits in Sri Lanka. In M.C. Langley (ed.). Osseous Projectile Weaponry: Towards an Understanding of Pleistocene Cultural Variability. VERT Series. New York: Springer-Verlag. Pp. 173-188.