PACEA — De la Préhistoire à l'Actuel : Culture, Environnement et Anthropologie.

PACEA — De la Préhistoire à l’Actuel : Culture, Environnement et Anthropologie. UMR 5199, Université de Bordeaux, CNRS.

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Rebecca Wragg Sykes joined the PACEA laboratory as a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellow in 2013, working with Dr Jean-Paul Raynal and Dr Marie-Helene Moncel of the MNHN. Her research specialism is in lithic (stone tool) analysis and Neanderthal archaeology. She’s interested in questions ranging from methods for lithic raw material sourcing to the evolution of territoriality and complex cognition expressed through material culture.

Her postdoctoral project TRACETERRE examined the prehistoric lithic raw material landscape in borders of the Massif Central and Ardeche, SE France. New fieldwork identified the location of an enormous silcrete (silcified sediment) open-air quarry and workshop site used through multiple periods in prehistory. By comparing this site to regional assemblages from Neanderthal caves through to post-glacial hunter-gatherer rockshelters, she examined how this stone was being used and moved around the landscape.

This research was published in 2017, as part of a special issue she also co-edited with Manuel Will on the global human use of silcrete.

She is currently an associate of PACEA, working on a popular book on Neanderthal archaeology, "Kindred", for Bloomsbury Sigma, which is due in 2018/19.

During her time at PACEA she co-founded TrowelBlazers, a community highlighting the role and contributions of women in the geosciences. Since then this work has developed through multiple collaborations, including her lead on the touring exhibition Raising Horizons and working with the World Heritage site of Avebury, National Trust.

She is passionate about sharing cutting edge research and the story of the Neanderthals, and writes for popular science outlets such as Scientific American, Aeon, The Guardian and BBC Focus, plus commissioned work for educational publisher Dorling Kindersley and heritage organisations.

She can be contacted via twitter @LeMoustier or

Research publications while at PACEA Hassett, B., Herridge, V., Wragg Sykes, R.M. and Pilaar Birch, S. 2018. TrowelBlazers : Accidentally crowdsourcing an archive of women in archaeology, In : Apaydin, V. and Johnston, J. (eds) Increasing Heritage Awareness through Participatory Public Archaeology. Springer.

Wragg-Sykes, R.M., Delvigne, V., Fernandes, P., Piboule, M., Lafarge, A., Defive, E., Raynal, J.P., 2017. “Undatable, unattractive, redundant” ? The Rapavi silcrete source, Saint-Pierre-Eynac (Haute-Loire, France) : challenges studying a prehistoric quarry-workshop in the Massif Central mountains. Journal of Archaeological Science Reports.

Wragg Sykes, R.M. and Will, Manuel. 2017. Guest Editorial – Silcrete as a lithic raw material in global context : geology, sourcing and prehistoric techno-economics. Journal of Archaeological Science : Reports.

Wragg Sykes, R.M. 2017. Isolation, Exploration or Seasonal Migration ? Investigating technological organisation in the Late Middle Palaeolithic of Britain during Marine Isotope Stage 3. In Lithic Technological Organization and Paleoenvironmental Change. (Eds. E. N. Robinson, F. Sellet). Studies in Human Ecology and Adaptation. Springer.

Wragg Sykes, R.M. 2017. Neanderthals in the Outermost West : technological adaptation in the Late Middle Palaeolithic (re)-colonization of Britain, Marine Isotope Stage 4/3. Quaternary International.

Delvigne, V., Fernandes, P., Piboule, M., Chomette, D., Defive, E., Lafarge, A., Liabeuf, R., Moncel, M-H., Wragg Sykes, R., Raynal, J.P. 2016. Circulation du silex barrémo-bédoulien depuis le Paléolithique moyen de Vivarais en Velay par les monts du Mézenc. Ardeche Archeologie 33, 11-18

Ruebens, K and Wragg Sykes, R.M. 2015. Spatio-temporal variation in Late Middle Palaeolithic Neanderthal behaviour : British bout coupé handaxes as a case study. Quaternary International.

Wragg Sykes, R.M., Riel-Salvatore, J., Pilaar Birch, S. 2015. Reconstructing hunter-gatherer mobility : building new inter disciplinary frameworks in the Quaternary- 1502P. Quaternary Perspectives 22 (1) : 9.

Wragg Sykes, R.M. 2015. To see a world in a hafted tool : birch pitch composite technology, cognition and memory in Neanderthals. In Settlement, Society and Cognition in Human Evolution : Landscapes in the Mind. (Eds F. Coward, R. Hosfield, M. Pope, F. Wenban-Smith). Cambridge University Press 

Hassett, B., Herridge, V., Wragg Sykes, R.M. and Pilaar Birch, S. 2014. TrowelBlazers : Accidentally crowdsourcing an archive of women in archaeology. 20th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists. Abstracts of the Oral and Poster Presentations. : 167

Wragg Sykes, R.M., Herridge, V., Hassett, B., and Pilaar Birch, S. 2014. The Cave, The Skull and The Women. Proceedings of the European Society for the study of Human Evolution 3 : 172

Raynal, J-P, Moncel, M-H, Daujeard, C., Argant, A, Bahain, J-J., Banks, W, Bearez, P., Bocherens, H. Chacon Navarro, G. Coutry, M-A., Crégut-Bonnoure, E., Debard, E., Delvigne, V., Desclaux, E., Ecker, M., Falgueres, C., Fernandes, P., Fiore, I., Foury, Y., Galloti, R., Guadelli, J-L., Hardy, B., Lafarge, A., La Porta A. O., Lateur, N., Lebon, M., Le Corre, M., LePape, J-M., Liabeuf, R., Manzano, A., Marcq, G., Piboule, M., Pike-Tay, A., Puaud, S., Queffelec, A., Richard, M., Rivals, F., Santagata, C., Sakai, S., Save, S., Servant, L., Roger, T., Rué, M., Wang, N., Wragg Sykes, R.M. 2013. Néanderthaliens sur les marges sud-est du Massif central. Espaces et subsistance au Paléolithique moyen. Nouvelles données dans le cadre d’un projet collectif de recherche. Ardèche Archéologie 30 : 1–14

Wragg Sykes, R.M. 2013. Exploration, Isolation, or Seasonal Migration ? Idiosyncratic technological organization in the Late Middle Palaeolithic re-colonization of Britain, MIS 3. Proceedings of the European Society for the study of Human Evolution. 2 : 239

Wragg Sykes, R.M. Herridge, V. Hassett, B. and Pilaar Birch, S. 2013. A Splendid Regiment of Women : 20th century research networks among women scientists in archaeology, geology and palaeontology. A Passion for Science : Stories of Discovery and Invention. Charman-Anderson, S. (Ed). Ada LoveLace Day : Dorset

Popular publications “Why archaeology needs to come out of the cave and into the digital age”. Guardian Science Blogs, Dec 2016

“Trowelblazers : women have been digging geoscienceslonger than you think”. Guardian Science Blogs, Nov 2016

“Who invented clothes ? A Palaeolithic archaeologist answers.” Guardian Science Blogs, 2013

Multiple blogs for the Day of Archaeology project 2011-2017 :