Staff profiles

Dr Sheahan Bestel

Honorary Associate Research Fellow


01392 724302

Dr. Sheahan Bestel studied both a Bachelor of Science (Botany, 2005) and a Bachelor of Arts with honours (Archaeology, 2007), as well as a Diploma of Languages (Mandarin Chinese, 2007) at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. She worked as a field archaeologist in Australia and Papua New Guinea and ran her own archaeology consulting business (2007-2010). She completed a PhD on an Australian Postgraduate Award scholarship about the transition to agriculture in North China (Monash University, 2012).

While completing her doctorate Dr. Bestel worked as a laboratory manager and tutor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Stanford University (2010-2012). She subsequently undertook a post-doctoral fellowship in the study of plant remains in East Asia at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, Canada (2013-2014) and worked as an Associate Research Fellow in Tropical Archaeobotany at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom (2014-2015). She has excavated or carried out fieldwork in many countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Papua New Guinea and the USA.

Dr. Bestel’s areas of specialization include an understanding of human-environment interactions including archaeobotany, environmental archaeology, ancient food and dietary studies and archaeological science and microscopy. She is a specialist in plant macrobotanical analyses including charred plant seeds, wood and tuber remains as well as microfossils including starch grains, phytoliths and other plant fragments (charcoal, raphides, bordered pits, cuticles). She enjoys looking at many different types of plant remains and is happy to be contacted with enquiries.


Peer-Reviewed Papers


Bestel, Sheahan, Li Liu and Leping Jiang. Submitted. Residues from grinding implements at the early rice cultivating Hehuashan Site, Middle Shangshan Period (9,500-9,000 BP), Zhejiang Province, South China. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports


Chinique de Armas, Yadira, William M Buhay, Roberto Rodríguez Suárez, Sheahan Bestel, David Smith, Stephanie D. Mowat, and Mirjana Roksandic. Starch analysis and isotopic evidence of consumption of cultigens among fisher-gatherers in Cuba: The archaeological site of Canímar Abajo, Matanzas. Journal of Archaeological Science 58: 121-132.


Bestel, Sheahan. Jiahu, Agriculture and Domestication at. Entry in Claire Smith (ed) Encyclopaedia of Global Archaeology. Springer.


Bestel, Sheahan, Gary Crawford, Li Liu, Jinming Shi, Yanhua Song, Xingcan Chen. The Evolution of Millet Domestication in the Middle Yellow River Region, North China. The Holocene. 24: 259-263.


Liu, Li, Sheahan Bestel, Jinming Shi, Yanhua Song, and Xingcan Chen. Paleolithic human exploitation of plant foods during the last glacial maximum in North China. PNAS, 110(14): 5380-5385.


Fullagar, Richard, Li Liu, Sheahan Bestel, Duncan Jones, Wei Gei, Anthony Wilson & Shaodong Zhai. Stone tool-use experiments to determine the function of grinding stones and denticulate sickles. Bulletin of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association (BIPPA) 32: 29-44.


Liu, Li, Wei Ge, Sheahan Bestel, Duncan Jones, Jinming Shi, Yanhua Song, & Xingcan Chen. Plant exploitation of the last foragers at Shizitan in the Middle Yellow River Valley China: Evidence from grinding stones. Journal of Archaeological Science, 38(12), 3534-3532.


Liu, Li, Judith Field, Richard Fullagar, Sheahan Bestel, Xingcan Chen and Xiaolin Ma. What did grinding stones grind? New light on Early Neolithic subsistence economy in the Middle Yellow River Valley, China. Antiquity 84(325):816-834.


Denham, T.P. J. Atchison, J. Austin, S. Bestel, D. Bowdery, A. Crowther, N. Dolby, A. Fairbairn, J. Field, A. Kennedy, C. Lentfer, C. Matheson, S. Nugent, J. Parr, M. Prebble, G. Robertson, J. Specht, R. Torrence, H. Barton, R. Fullagar, S. Haberle, M. Horrocks, T. Lewis and P. Matthews. Archaeobotany in Australia and New Guinea: practice, potential and prospects. Australian Archaeology 68:1-10.


Lee, Gyoung-Ah and Sheahan Bestel. Contextual analysis of plant remains at the Erlitou-period Huizui site, Henan, China. Bulletin of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association (BIPPA) 27: 49-60.

Non Peer-Reviewed Papers


Bestel, Sheahan. 2014. Review of ‘A Companion to Chinese Archaeology’ edited by Anne Underhill and published by Wiley-Blackwell. American Anthropologist.


Becks, Fanya and Sheahan Bestel. 2013. Starch and Residues on Market Street Chinatown Artifacts. Proceedings of the Society for Californian Archaeology 27:162-175.