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Professor Charles French

Professor of Geoarchaeology and Director of the McBurney Geoarchaeology Laboratory in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge

Charles French (BA (Wales), MA & PhD London)) is a distinguished geoarchaeologist at the University of Cambridge with over 40 years of archaeological experience. He is the author of at least 130 articles and the author/ editor of 10 books/monographs.  He has worked in many parts of the world and is currently involved in projects in the East Anglian fenlands such as Must Farm, the chalk downlands of Wessex at Avebury, central Bosnia, Sicily, Sardinia, Italy, northern India, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and southern Peru.

Prior to 1992 he was the palaeoenvironmentalist and assistant director of the Fenland Archaeological Trust. Specialising in the reconstruction of past environments, his work focuses on analysis and interpretation of buried landscapes using geomorphological and micromorphological techniques to establish their status in terms of key project variables such as deforestation, agriculture, soil erosion and desertification.

Charles is one of the most highly respected environmental archaeology consultants and micromorphologists in the UK and undertakes analysis for archaeological units in eastern England and beyond. He has been a principal member of many multi-annual and multi-partner grant-funded multi-disciplinary projects, including several UKRC and EU/ERC-funded: 1996-9: the Aguas Project, Spain, 1996-9; the Emergence of Bronze Age Communities in Europe, 2001-6, directed by Prof Kristian Kristiansen (Goteburg); in the Tempus training project Curricular reform of heritage sciences in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2012-14 (BIHERIT) directed by Prof Predrag Novakovic (Ljubljana); 3D Pitoti (2013-16) directed by Dr Sue Cobb (Nottingham); and the research projects such as The Upper Allen Valley, Cranborne Chase Project (1998-2004),  the Stonehenge Riverside Project (2005-10) directed by Prof Mike Parker Pearson, the One River Project in Peru (2013-18), and Tropical MicroArchaeology (2014-16).

Professor French's pioneering work in geoarchaeology and the microscopic study of sediment structures is internationally recognised as being key to providing fundamental insights into our past. He is a member of the Editorial Board of the Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society and a regular reviewer for several archaeological and environmental science journals, and grant giving bodies/research councils, and on several advisory panels such as Developing International Geoarchaeology. He was awarded the University's Pilkington Prize in June 2009 (, and has supervised more than 30 PhD students in the McBurney Laboratory; of these well over half now have permanent academic/research positions in the UK and beyond.