Mark Robinson

Mark is a Research Fellow in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Exeter. He earned his Ph.D. from Louisiana State University on the Underwater Maya project in Belize, studying resource exploitation and wood selection behaviour. Over a decade of field work in Belize has taken him from the inundated salt works of the coast, to the ceremonial centres on the interior and the intricate cave systems of the mountains. Recent research on the archaic and palaeoindian periods has recovered an unprecedented 10k year sequence of human burials, enabling exploration of long term dietary patterns and the adoption of maize agriculture, reassessment of the dating of lithic industries, and development of genetic evidence for the peopling of the Americas.

As a postdoctoral researcher on the Je Landscapes of Southern Brazil project (directed by Iriarte), Mark’s research focused on the adaptations and transformations of people and the environment, and the identification of social and ritual structures in the southern Brazilian highlands, employing interdisciplinary methods from archaeology, anthropology, ecology, soil science, and geography. Predictive modelling and isotopic soil profiles confirmed that the spread of Araucaria forests during the late Holocene in the southern Brazilian Highlands was not the result of climate change but rather deliberate afforestation by pre-Columbian groups.

On the ERC PAST and PoC FUTURES projects, Mark conducted excavations across Amazonia, delving into pre-Colombian resource exploitation and forest enrichment. Archaeological data were combined with airborne Lidar data, which he operated from a modified helicopter set up to uncover archaeological features below the forest canopy and develop quantifiable vegetation data to address modern sustainability issues.