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James Walker

Postdoctoral Research Assistant

Faculty/Dept/School School of Archaeological and Forensic Sciences
(Faculty of Life Sciences)


I am a postdoctoral researcher on the European Research Council funded Europe's Lost Frontiers project, working with Prof. Vince Gaffney and colleagues on the archaeological aspects of a project aimed at discovering more about the lost, submerged prehistoric landscape of Doggerland - now the base of the North Sea.


PhD: (2010-2014) Durham University - AHRC funded PhD titled "Rethinking the Significance of the microlith for hunting in the terminal Pleistocene/Holocene: a comparative study" awarded in 2015. Supervised by Prof. Peter Rowley-Conwy and Prof. Mark White. Examined by Prof. Geoff Bailey (York) and Dr. Ben Roberts (Durham).

MPhil (distinction): 2008-2009 University of Cambridge 

BA(Hons) 1st class: 2005-2008 Durham University 

Employment History:

2016 - 2018: Lecturing/Teaching assistant for Department of Anthropology (Human Evolution and evolutionary anthropology) at Durham University
2015 - 2018: Editorial Assistant for the journal Antiquity
2014 - 2016: Research assistant in the Grahame Clark Zooarchaeology Laboratory, University of Cambridge (for Prof. Paul Mellars)

In addition to the above detailed posts, I have worked on-and-off in varying capacities within private and commercial archaeology, most notably for the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, and as a freelance consultant and heritage specialist, having travelled for work in Canada, France, and Singapore.

Indicators of Esteem:

2017 Invited speaker for ISEAS (Institute of South East Asia Studies) Singapore
2016 Invited chair for Climate Change and Archaeology conference (Durham) 
2012 Invited chair for Migrations and Diaspora session at AAA (San Francisco)
2010 John Evans Prize for best environmental archaeology dissertation


British Society for the History of Science (small grant)
Institute of Hazards, Risk and Resilience Research (small grant)
Durham University Institute of Advanced Study (Postgraduate seed funding)
Durham University Archaeological Dialogues Funding (Postgraduate research grant)
Arts and Humanities Research Council (PhD funding)

and various other small travel bursaries etc e.g. Prehistoric Society, Ustinov Society.


Teaching interests

I have taught, supervised, demonstrated, lectured and run modules for anthropology (Hominin evolution, adaptation and variation, palaeoanthropology, evolutionary anthropology, hunter-gatherers, cultural diversity and ethnography, and palaeoecology) and lectured/taught extensively for archaeology too - theory, prehistory, field methods, lab-based analyses etc.


My main research focus is on the investigation of archaeological materials and cultural heritage that lay under water. In particular, my interests lie in the landscapes as they evolved from the final Pleistocene into the mid-late Holocene. These landscapes would have certainly been of immense importance to prehistoric peoples, and yet they remain one of the most poorly understood places from our past. Many of archaeology's biggest questions depend upon data that lies upon the seabed, and the ELF project leads the way in exploring their archaeological potential. 

Other Research Interests: 
In addition to my role as a Mesolithic/Neolithic specialist, I have broad array of interests pertaining to many aspects of hunter-gatherer society and hominin evolution. These include, means of cultural adaptation to environmental variation, subsistence strategies, migration events, mid-later period hominin evolution and cognitive development, ethnoarchaeology, the transition to farming, and the history of prehistory, among other topics.