Oliver Boles

Visiting Scholar


PhD, 2017, UCL Institute of Archaeology, London, UK

MA Archaeology, 2012, UCL Institute of Archaeology

BA Archaeology, 2010, UCL Institute of Archaeology

Research Interests

My research focusses on the Pastoral Iron Age of eastern Africa (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania) and the emergence of mobile livestock-based economies that preceded modern pastoralist communities like the Maasai. In particular, I am interested in the intersection of archaeology and ecology and the long-term role of pastoralism in shaping savannah ecosystems, both as a way of understanding landscape evolution and as a proxy for the often-ephemeral archaeological record associated with mobile societies. My other interests include bioarchaeological approaches to faunal material (e.g. isotope and dental micro-wear analyses of teeth) and spatial analyses of human-environment interactions, using archaeological data to inform palaeoecological reconstruction, as in my current work with the LandCover6k project at Penn.

Selected Publications

Marchant, R., Richer, S., Capitani, C., Courtney-Mustaphi, C., Prendergast, M., Stump, D., Boles, O. et al., 2018. Drivers and trajectories of land cover change in East Africa: human and environmental interactions from 6000 years ago to present. Earth-Science Reviews. DOI: 10.1016/j.earscirev.2017.12.010 

Boles, O. 2017. Understanding ephemeral pastoralist settlements in eastern Africa: the potential of isotopes in cattle tooth enamel. In: A. Ventresca-Miller & C. Makarewicz (eds.) Isotopic investigations of pastoralism in prehistory. Oxford: Routledge. 15-28.

Armstrong, C.G., Shoemaker, A.C., McKechnie, I., Ekblom, A., Szabo, P., Lane, P.J., Boles, O., et al., 2017, Anthropological contributions to historical ecology: 50 questions, infinite prospects. PLoSONE, 12(2).

Henton, E., Martin, L., Garrard, A., Jourdan, A-L., Thirlwall, M. & Boles, O., 2017. Gazelle seasonal mobility in the Jordanian steppe: the use of dental isotopes and microwear as environmental markers, applied to Epipaleolithic Kharaneh IV, Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 11:147-158.

Boles, O. & Lane, P.J., 2016. The Green, Green Grass of Home: the archaeo-ecology of ephemeral pastoralist settlement in central Kenya, Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa, 51(4): 507-530.

Boles, O. & Ongwen, D., 2014, Remote Heritage Revisited: Archaeology and site management on Lolui Island, Uganda, Antiquity Project Gallery, www.antiquity.ac.uk/projgall/boles339.


Research Associate, YorK Institute for Tropical Ecosystems (KITE), Environment Department, University of York, UK


Geographical Area


Faculty Status