ArchaeoCafé Podcast – Episode 25 – Microscopes and the Mesolithic: An interview with Jess Bates

hosted by Otis Crandell and Tommy Ng

In this episode, we talk with Jess Bates about the Mesolithic settlement of Star Carr, experimental archaeology, and the York Experimental Archaeological Research (YEAR) Centre.

Listen to this episode online:




Some useful terminology and links

Star Carr
a Mesolithic site in North Yorkshire, England, generally regarded as the most important and informative Mesolithic site in Great Britain. The site was occupied approximately from 9300 to 8480 BCE.

York Experimental Archaeological Research (YEAR) Centre
an outdoor experimental archaeology workspace located on the campus of the University of York.

Experimental archaeology
a field of study which attempts to generate and test archaeological hypotheses, usually by replicating or approximating the feasibility of ancient cultures performing various tasks or feats
For more about experimental archaeology, visit the EXARC website.

The period between the Upper Palaeolithic and the Neolithic – it refers to the final period of hunter-gatherer cultures in Europe and Western Asia, between the end of the Last Glacial Maximum and the Neolithic Revolution.

Microwear analysis
microscopic analysis that can identify if the flint was used, and how it was used

GIS (Geographic Information Systems)
a conceptualized framework that provides the ability to capture and analyse spatial and geographic data

PI  (Principle Investigator)
the lead researcher on a research project, often the main person responsible for an archaeological excavation or field work.

Antler headdresses
One of the most intriguing artefacts found at Star Carr are the antler “frontlets” or headdresses. There are a number of different interpretations concerning what they were used for: possibly for hunting red deer, possibly used by shamans in ritual activities.

a process by which an artefact, often bone, stone, or metal is attached to a haft (handle or strap).

Mystic Britain
a documentary series on the Smithsonian Channel that explores the sacred sites and supernatural beliefs of the ancient Britons


About Jess Bates

Jessica “Jess” Bates is an archaeologist at the University of York. Her research focuses on knapped stone tool usage during the Mesolithic and how Early Mesolithic structures were used by hunter-gatherers. She uses microwear analysis alongside Geographical Information Systems, to explore patterns in tool-using behaviours within and around the structures. In addition to her research, she also helps to run the York Experimental Archaeological Research (YEAR) Centre.



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