Prof. Michael Petraglia speaks at University of Cambridge memorial event for Dr. Bridget Allchin, a pioneer in the field of South Asian archaeology
Prof. Petraglia’s talk at Wolfson College, University of Cambridge “Following in Bridget Allchin’s Footsteps: the Current State of Stone Age Archaeology” reflected on Dr. Allchin’s pioneering work and contributions to the field throughout the course of her career.
Prof. Michael Petraglia was the key-note speaker at a memorial event for the late Dr. Bridget Allchin, a pioneer in the field of South Asian archaeology, on March 17. The event, organized by the Ancient India & Iran Trust, honored the life and contributions of Dr. Allchin, who was the Trust’s founding trustee. Dr. Allchin passed away last year at the age of 90.
Dr. Petraglia’s talk, “Following in Bridget Allchin’s Footsteps: the Current State of Stone Age Archaeology,” looked at looked at three key areas of Dr. Allchin’s work: the earliest inhabitants of South Asia; environments and modern humans; and hunter-gatherers before agriculture. He also spoke about her contributions to theory and methodology in the field.
Dr. Allchin made pioneering contributions to the field of South Asian archaeology and prehistory, which began with her first trip to India in 1951. One ground-breaking aspect of her work was her research on the effect of environmental factors on early migrations. Dr. Allchin’s focus, in the 1970s, on the relationship between Stone Age populations and changing environments in the Indian subcontinent was pioneering.
In his talk, Prof. Petraglia discussed recent research about the survival and migration of human populations after the Toba volcanic super-eruption 74,000 years ago, which he had written about previously in a 2007 paper based on a study of sites in India, and recalled Dr. Allchin’s instruction to him: “Go to the Belan River Valley, Mike!”
One aspect of Prof. Petraglia’s research focuses on analyses of how environmental changes impacted human dispersals out of Africa and to different parts of the world, including his ground-breaking work on the environments and archaeology of the Arabian Peninsula and how human populations expanded and contracted in response to fluctuating wet and arid phases over the past 125,000 years.