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Dr Simon Lewis

Reader in Quaternary Science

email: s.lewis@qmul.ac.uk
Tel: 020 7882 8923
Location: Geography building, Room 120

Profile

Simon Lewis

My research focus is in Quaternary science, in particular geoarchaeology and the Palaeolithic record in Britain. I have been involved in a number of major UK Palaeolithic archaeological research projects and I was a core member of the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain (AHOB) Project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. I am currently a member of the Pathways to Ancient Britain Project, co-director of the Barnham Excavation and a co-Investigator on a Leverhulme Trust funded project: Mapping Palaeolithic Britain. I am also involved in the Happisburgh Palaeolithic Project and the recent discovery of ancient footprints at Happisburgh received the Current Archaeology 2014 “Rescue Dig of the Year” award.  I was awarded the Henry Stopes Medal by the Geologists’ Association in 2015.

Key publications

  • Ashton, N., Lewis, S.G., De Groote, I., Duffy, S., Bates, M.B. Bates, C.R., Hoare, P.G., Lewis, M., Parfitt, S.A., Peglar, S., Williams, C., Stringer, C.B. 2014. Hominin footprints from Early Pleistocene deposits at Happisburgh, UK. PLoS ONE 9(2): e88329. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088329

  • Bailiff, I.K., Lewis, S.G., Drinkall, H., White, M.J. 2013.  Luminescence dating of sediments from a Palaeolithic site associated with a solution feature on the North Downs of Kent, UK. Quaternary Geochronology 18, 135-148. doi:10.1016/j.quageo.2013.04.001
  • Ashton, N.M., Lewis, S.G., 2012. The environmental contexts of early human occupation of northwest Europe: the British Lower Palaeolithic record. Quaternary International 271, 50–64. (doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2011.10.022)
  • Parfitt, S.A., Ashton, N.M., Lewis, S.G., Abel, R.L., Coope, G.R., Field, M.H., Gale, R., Hoare, P.G., Larkin, N.R., Lewis, M.D., Karloukovski, V., Maher, B.A., Peglar, S.M., Preece, R.C., Whittaker, J.E., Stringer, C.B. 2010. Early Pleistocene human occupation at the edge of the boreal zone in northwest Europe. Nature 466, 229–233. (doi:10.1038/nature09117)
  • Ashton, N., Lewis, S.G., Parfitt, S., Penkman, K.E.H., Coope, G.R. 2008. New evidence for complex climate change in MIS 11 from Hoxne, Suffolk, UK. Quaternary Science Reviews 27, 652–668. (doi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2008.01.003)

Teaching

I am involved in a wide variety of teaching activities, ranging from lecture-based courses, to practical and field based teaching. I have led field classes to a variety of UK locations, mainly in upland environments and I have run the 1st year field class to the Cairngorms, Scotland for a number of years. These field courses have two main aims: to develop students’ understanding of processes in the natural environment and to provide skills training through project work in preparation for independent projects. I currently teach on the following modules:

Research

Research interests:

My research focuses on geoarchaeology and the Palaeolithic record in Britain, with contributions to a number of research projects concerning the Palaeolithic archaeological record, particularly in Eastern England.

The Pathways to Ancient Britain project is continuing some of the work of the AHOB project, including on-going research at Happisburgh, where recently-discovered hominin footprints are the oldest examples outside Africa. The project also involves new work at Barnham, Suffolk. This research is building on previous work at the site by the research team (1989-1994) to investigate a number of key questions about the relationship between different artefact assemblages and the environmental signal at the site. I am also a member of a consortium led by British Museum on an English Heritage funded project Understanding the Cromer Forest-bed Formation which is seeking to establish the extent on-shore and off-shore of the archaeologically important deposits at Happisburgh. My role concerns the onshore geological investigations, results of which will be integrated with onshore and offshore geophysical surveys. I am also a co-investigator on the Mapping Palaeolithic Britain project, which is exploring the route-ways, dispersals and landscape use of different colonising populations over the last 800,000 years (800 ky) using datasets comprising 80,000 artefact records from over 600 sites held at the British Museum and in other collections.

I was a member of the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain Project funded by the Leverhulme Trust. This multi-institution project has examined the record of human presence in Britain from the oldest Lower Palaeolithic evidence at Happisburgh through to the end of the last ice age and the close of the Upper Palaeolithic. This project has made a significant contribution to understanding the nature and timing of human occupation of Britain and the environmental constraints on human presence. My involvement has mainly been on the older part of the record, including sites such as Happisburgh, High Lodge and Hoxne, but I was also involved in the excavations at the Neanderthal site at Lynford.

A recently completed AHRC CDA research project: Palaeolithic archaeology of the Solent River: human occupation in its stratigraphic context, in conjunction with British Museum and Reading University focused on the stratigraphy and Palaeolithic archaeology of the Solent River in southern England. Two graduate students have completed PhD theses based on the work of this project.

Publications

A full list of publications is available here.

  • Ashton, N., Lewis, S.G., De Groote, I., Duffy, S., Bates, M.B. Bates, C.R., Hoare, P.G., Lewis, M., Parfitt, S.A., Peglar, S., Williams, C., Stringer, C.B. 2014. Hominin footprints from Early Pleistocene deposits at Happisburgh, UK. PLoS ONE 9(2): e88329. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088329

  • Bailiff, I.K., Lewis, S.G., Drinkall, H., White, M.J. 2013.  Luminescence dating of sediments from a Palaeolithic site associated with a solution feature on the North Downs of Kent, UK. Quaternary Geochronology 18, 135-148. doi:10.1016/j.quageo.2013.04.001
  • Ashton, N.M., Lewis, S.G., 2012. The environmental contexts of early human occupation of northwest Europe: the British Lower Palaeolithic record. Quaternary International 271, 50–64. (doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2011.10.022)
  • Lewis, S.G. 2012. The Palaeolithic Archaeological Record in Suffolk. In: Dixon, R. (Ed.) A Celebration of Suffolk Geology. GeoSuffolk 10th Anniversary volume, GeoSuffolk, Ipswich, 353–366.
  • Lewis, S.G. 2012. Pleistocene stratigraphy and sedimentology. In: Boismier, W.A., Gamble, C. & Coward, F. (Eds), Neanderthals among Mammoths: excavations at Lynford Quarry, Norfolk. English Heritage, Swindon, 17–32.
  • Lewis, S.G., Ashton, N.M., Jacobi, R.M. 2011. Testing human presence during the Last Interglacial (MIS 5e): a review of the British evidence. In: Ashton, N., Lewis, S.G., Stringer, C.B. (Eds). The Ancient Human Occupation of Britain. Developments in Quaternary Science, 14. Elsevier, Amsterdam, p.125–164.
  • Abel, R.L., Parfitt, S., Ashton, N., Lewis, S.G., Scott, B., Stringer, C.B. 2011. Digital preservation and dissemination of ancient lithic technology with modern micro-CT. Computers and Graphics 35, 878–884. (doi:10.1016/j.cag.2011.03.001)
  • Parfitt, S.A., Ashton, N.M., Lewis, S.G., Abel, R.L., Coope, G.R., Field, M.H., Gale, R., Hoare, P.G., Larkin, N.R., Lewis, M.D., Karloukovski, V., Maher, B.A., Peglar, S.M., Preece, R.C., Whittaker, J.E., Stringer, C.B. 2010. Early Pleistocene human occupation at the edge of the boreal zone in northwest Europe. Nature 466, 229–233. (doi:10.1038/nature09117)
  • Ashton, N., Lewis, S.G., Parfitt, S., Penkman, K.E.H., Coope, G.R. 2008. New evidence for complex climate change in MIS 11 from Hoxne, Suffolk, UK. Quaternary Science Reviews 27, 652–668. (doi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2008.01.003)

PhD Supervision

Postgraduate research opportunities in Earth Surface Science

Current students

  • Benardout, Ginny (PhD) Quantifying Quaternary climate change: testing micropalaeontological proxy methods for palaeotemperature estimation. Queen Mary, University of London.
  • Hatch, Marcus (PhD) Palaeolithic Archaeology of the Solent River: Human occupation in its stratigraphic context. (AHRC funded Collaborative Doctoral Award). Queen Mary, University of London.
  • Forden, Stephen (PhD) British palaeoenvironments and palaeoclimates during the Hoxnian Interglacial (Marine Isotope Stage 11). Queen Mary, University of London.

Public engagement

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