Dr. Deepak Jha

Postdoctoral Researcher
Department of Archaeology
+49 3641-686-734

Main Focus

As a Postdoctoral Researcher at MPI-GEA, my research is driven by curiosity to unravel the mechanisms through which climate has shaped the evolution of Homo species in Asia. During my Ph.D. research at the Stable Isotope Laboratory of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Kolkata, India, I focused on understanding the complex interaction between humans and the environment. I employ radiogenic strontium (87Sr/86Sr) and neodymium (143Nd/144Nd) isotope ratios and stable isotopic techniques, both at the bulk (δ13C, δ18O, δ15N and δ32S) and biomolecular level (δ13C and δ2H of n-alkanes and fatty acids), to decipher changes in provenance, vegetation and climatic conditions and their resulting effects on prehistoric human populations. Additionally, I also conduct study on marco-charcoal and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from archaeological sediments to understand human-induced fire events and the role of fire in human evolution.

In my research, I utilize a suite of analytical instruments, including Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer (IRMS) coupled with Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometer (GCMS) via Conflo and Dual-Inlet, Kiel IV Carbonate Device, Organic Elemental Analyzer, and Gas Bench, to generate proxy-based records for paleoenvironmental reconstruction.

Currently, I am working on multiple desert, fluvial, and lacustrine systems to decipher the effects of past climate change on prehistoric humans in India, Saudi Arabia, and Malaysia. In addition to paleoenvironmental reconstruction, I am establishing a modern calibration of compound-specific carbon and hydrogen isotopic values with respect to changing elevation gradient, pCO2, precipitation, and temperature in the Himalayas. These calibration studies will be useful for inferring past climate variability in high altitude regions.

Curriculum Vitae

I am currently engaged in the reconstruction of paleoclimate, paleovegetation, and paleofire during the Paleolithic phases of the Indian subcontinent and Saudi Arabia.

I obtained my Ph.D. degree in Geological Sciences (April 2021) with a specialization in Organic Geochemistry, Stable Isotopes, Quaternary Climate, and Archaeology from IISER Kolkata, India. My Ph.D. project focused on reconstructing the climate, vegetation, fire, and provenance of sediments collected from Paleolithic to Neolithic sites in the Belan Valley, India. Throughout my research, I gained extensive experience in sampling and handling soil, plant, charcoal, soil carbonates, and water samples for biomarker and isotopic studies.

I received a Master of Science (MS) degree in Geological Sciences from IISER Kolkata (2016) with a specialization in Stable Isotope Geochemistry and Paleoclimate Reconstruction. Prior to that, I completed my B.Sc. (Hons) in Geology from the University of Delhi (2013), India.

I have been the recipient of various international research and travel grants, such as the International Association of Sedimentologists (IAS) Postgraduate and Travel Grant, International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA) Travel Grant, and Goldschmidt Conference Grant. Since 2018, I have been associated with Past Global Changes (PAGES) as a Regional Representative of the Early Career Network (ECN) in India. Alongside my research, I have a strong interest in teaching and guiding students in their research careers. I have had the opportunity to mentor four Master's and first-year Ph.D. students in their research endeavors.


16. Sanyal, P., Adhya, S.P., Mandal, R., Roy, B., Dasgupta, B., Samantaray, S., Sen, R., Sarangi, V., Kumar, A., Jha, D.K., Ajay, A. (2024). Geologic History of Plants and Climate in India. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, V52. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-earth-040722-102442

15. Jha, D.K., Patalano, R., Ilgner, J., Achyuthan, H., Alsharekh, A.M., Armitage, S., Blinkhorn, J., Boivin, N., Breeze, P.S., Devra, R. and Drake, N. Groucutt, H.S., Guagnin, M., Roberts, P. and Petraglia, M. (2024). Preservation of plant‐wax biomarkers in deserts: implications for Quaternary environment and human evolutionary studies. Journal of Quaternary Science.

14. Jha, D. K., Vaishnav, H. K., & Roy, N. (2024). Late Quaternary human-environment relationship in the Ganga Plain, India. Quaternary International, 680, 1-16.

13. Jha, D.K., Hirave, P., Ghosh, S., Dasgupta, B., Sanyal, P. (2024). Does leaf wax isotopic characterisation of gymnosperms and angiosperms capture environmental gradients in Himalayas? Organic Geochemistry, 187, p.104720.

12. Kumar, A., Basu, S., Ajay, A., Jha, D.K., Sanyal, P. (2024). Quantitative delineation of water sources in the river Ganga using stable water isotopes. River Research and Applications, 40(2), 177190.

11.Guagnin, M., Shipton, C., Stileman, F., Jibreen, F., AlSulaimi, M., Breeze, P.S., Stewart, M., Hatton, A., Drake, N., Jha, D.K., Al-Tamimi, F., Al-Shamry, M., Al-Shammari, M., Kay, A., Groucutt, H.S., Alsharekh, A.M., and Petraglia, M.D., (2023): Before the Holocene humid period: Life-sized camel engravings and early occupations on the southern edge of the Nefud Desert. Archaeological Research in Asia. 36, 100483.

10. Huber, B., Hammann, S., Loeben, C.E. Jha, D.K., et al. 2023. Biomolecular characterization of 3500-year-old ancient Egyptian mummification balms from the Valley of the Kings. Sci Rep 13, 12477. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-39393-y

9. Kulkarni, C., Jara, I.A., Chevalier, M., ......... Jha, D.K., et al., 2023. pSESYNTH project: Community mobilization for a multi-disciplinary paleo database of the Global South. Past Global Changes Magazine 31(1), 30-31. https://doi.org/10.22498/pages.31.1.30

8. Dhiman, H., Verma, V., Singh, L.R., Miglani, V., Jha, D.K., Sanyal, P., Tandon, S.K. and Prasad, G.V., 2023. New Late Cretaceous titanosaur sauropod dinosaur egg clutches from lower Narmada valley, India: Palaeobiology and taphonomy. PloS one, 18(1), p.e0278242.

7. Prieto A., Aldea-Moreira X., Arzarello M., Berruti GLF, Caracausi S., Daffara S., de la Peña P., Favreau J., García-Rojas M., Huysecom E., Janardhana B., Jha, D.K., et al. (2022). How to deal with an elephant in the room? Understanding “Non-flint” raw materials: characterization and technological organization. Revista ArkeoGazte, 12, pp. 73-98.

6. Jha, D.K., 2021. Reconstruction of Late Quaternary climate, vegetation, fire and sediment provenance of Indo-Gangetic floodplains and its implication for the Paleolithic to Neolithic phases of the Indian subcontinent (Doctoral dissertation, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Kolkata).

5. Jha, D.K., Samrat, R., Sanyal, P. 2021. The first evidence of controlled use of fire by prehistoric humans during the Middle Paleolithic phase from the Indian subcontinent. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 562, p.110151.

4. Singh, A., Muhammad, R.F., Taib, I., Jha, D.K. and Srivastava, A.K. 2021. Surface texture, mineralogy and stable isotope studies of nodular calcretes preserved in the YTT ash of Padang Terap river basin and Lenggong valley, Peninsular Malaysia: implications in its origin and paleoclimatic reconstruction. Rhizosphere, p.100380. 

3. Jha, D.K., Sanyal, P. and Philippe, A. 2020. Multi-proxy evidence of Late Quaternary climate and vegetational history of north-central India: Implication for the Paleolithic to Neolithic phases. Quaternary Science Reviews, 229, p.106121.

2. Pillai, A.A.S. Anoop, A. Sankaran, M. Sanyal, P. Jha, D.K. Ratnam, J. 2017. Mid-late Holocene vegetation response to climatic drivers and biotic disturbances in the Banni grasslands of western India. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 485, 869-878.l

1. Yadav, A. Mishra, P.K. Kumar, P. Jha, D.K. Kumar, V.V. Ambili, V. Anoop, A. 2017. Molecular distribution and carbon isotope of n-alkanes from Ashtamudi Estuary, South India: Assessment of organic matter sources and paleoclimatic implications. Marine Chemistry. 196, 62-70.

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