Staff profiles

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Dr Mark Robinson

Research Fellow

I focus on environmental archaeology, applying interdisciplinary techniques to explore human-plant relationships. My research has particularly focused on human-environment interactions, including wood and charcoal identification to understand resource exploitation and anthropogenic impacts on the forest. I've worked extensively thoughout the New World, with ongoing projects in Belize, Brazil, Bolivia, and Colombia, with contexts ranging from the peopling of the Americas during the Late Pleistocene, to the collapse of the Maya civilisation. 

Currently I am using airborne LiDAR to document forest structure and archaeology in western Amazonia, under an ERC FUTURES Proof of Concept grant. 

Previously, on the AHRC funded project, Je Landscapes of Southern Brazil, I used anthracology, ethnography and spatial analysis to reveal social organisation and resource access for the Southern Proto Je, and applied a novel methodology using GIS modelling, vegetation prediction, and isotope geochemistry to isolate humans from climate as the principal driver of vegetation change during the Late Holocene. 

Continuing research in the remote Bladen Nature Reserve in Belize has uncovered some of the oldest tropical skeletons in well-defined stratigraphic sequences. 

 

Research interests

I focus on environmental archaeology, applying interdisciplinary techniques to explore human-plant relationships. My research has particularly focused on human-environment interactions, including wood and charcoal identification to understand resource exploitation and anthropogenic impacts on the forest. I've worked extensively thoughout the New World, with ongoing projects in Belize, Brazil, Bolivia, and Colombia, with contexts ranging from the peopling of the Americas during the Late Pleistocene, to the collapse of the Maya civilisation. 

Currently I am using airborne LiDAR to document forest structure and archaeology in western Amazonia, under an ERC FUTURES Proof of Concept grant. 

Previously, on the AHRC funded project, Je Landscapes of Southern Brazil, I used anthracology, ethnography and spatial analysis to reveal social organisation and resource access for the Southern Proto Je, and applied a novel methodology using GIS modelling, vegetation prediction, and isotope geochemistry to isolate humans from climate as the principal driver of vegetation change during the Late Holocene. 

Continuing research in the remote Bladen Nature Reserve in Belize has uncovered some of the oldest tropical skeletons in well-defined stratigraphic sequences. 

 

Select publications:

2018    Posth, C., … M. Robinson,…et al. Reconstructing the deep population history of Central and South America. Cell 175: 1185-1197.

2018    Robinson, M, J.G. De Souza, S.Y. Maezumi, M. Cárdenas, L. Pessenda, K. Prufer, R. Corteletti, D. Scunderlick, F. Mayle, P. DeBlasis, and J. Iriarte. Uncoupling human and climate drivers of late Holocene vegetation change in southern Brazil. Scientific Reports 8(1).

2018    Maezumi, S.Y., D. Alves, M. Robinson, J.G. DeSouza, R. Barnet, D. Urrego, D. Schaan, and J. Iriarte. Evidence of 4,500 years of Pre-Columbian land-management in the eastern Amazon: insights for sustainable anthropogenic landscapes on Amazonian Dark Earths. Nature Plants 4:540-547.

2018    Maezumi, S.Y., M. Robinson, J.G. DeSouza, D. Urrego, D. Schaan, D. Alves, and J. Iriarte. New insights from pre-Columbian fire management and land use in Amazonian Dark Earth forests. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 6:111.

2018    DeSouza, J.G., D. Schaan, M. Robinson, A. Barbosa, L. Aragão, B.H. Marimon Jr, B.S. Marimon, I  Silva, S. Khan, F. Nakahara, and J. Iriarte. Pre-Columbian earth-builders settled along the entire southern rim of the Amazon. Nature Communications 9(1).

2018    Blatrix, R., … M.Robinson. The unique functioning of a pre-Columbian Amazonian floodplain fishery. Scientific Reports 8:5998.

2017    Robinson, M., J. Iriarte, J.G. DeSouza, R. Corteletti, P. Ulguim, M. Fradley, M. Cárdenas, P. DeBlasis, F. Mayle, and D. Scunderlick. Moieties and mortuary mounds: dualism at a mound and enclosure complex in the southern Brazilian highlands. Latin American Antiquity.

2017    Robinson, M., J. Iriarte, J.G. DeSouza, O. Marozzi, and R. Scheel-Ybert. Moiety specific wood selection in funerary ritual for the southern proto-Jê. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

2016    Moyes, H., M. Robinson, and K. Prufer. The Kayuko Mound Group: A festival site in southern Belize. Antiquity 90: 143-156.

2016    DeSouza, J.G., M. Robinson, R. Corteletti, M. Cárdenas, S. Wolf, J. Iriarte, F. Mayle, and P. DeBlasis. Understanding the chronology and occupation dynamics of oversized pit houses in the southern Brazilian highlands. PloS One 11.

2016    DeSouza, J.G., R. Cortelletti, M. Robinson, and J. Iriarte. The genesis of monuments: resisting outsiders in the contested landscapes of southern Brazil. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 41: 196-212.

2014    Robinson, M., and H. McKillop. Fuelling ancient Maya salt works at Paynes Creek, Belize. Economic Botany 68, 96-108.

2013    Robinson, M., and H. McKillop. Ancient Maya wood selection and forest exploitation: a view from the Paynes Creek salt works, Belize. Journal of Archaeological Science 40, 3584-3595.

2013    Kennett, D., I. Hajdas, B. Culleton, S. Belmecheri, S. Martin, H. Neff, J. Awe, H. Graham, K. Freeman, L. Newsom, D. Lentz, F. Anselmetti, M. Robinson, N. Marwan, J. Southon, D. Hodell, G. Haug. Correlating the ancient Maya and modern European calendars with high-precision AMS 14C dating. Scientific Reports 3:

 

Research collaborations

Je Landscapes of Southern Brazil, with Jose Iriarte (University of Exeter)

Pre-Columbian Amazon Scale Transformations, With Jose Iriarte (University of Exeter)

The Origins of Plant Domestication in the Upper Madeira River Basin in Lowland South America, With Jose Iriarte & Charles Clement

Climate and Culture, India, with Gillian Juleff (University of Exeter), Dhananjay Sant & K. Krishnan (MSU-Baroda)

Las Cuevas Archaeological Research Project, Belize, with Holley Moyes (University of California-Merced)

Belize Cave Research Project, Belize, with Holley Moyes (University of California-Merced) & Jaime Awe (Northern Arizona University)

Bladen Paleoindian and Archaic Project, Belize, with Keith Prufer (University of New Mexico)