Award for archaeology student

The School was delighted to hear that Synnøve Gravdal Heimvik has won this year's Association for Environmental Archaeology (AEA) John Evans Dissertation Prize for best undergraduate dissertation.

HCA An image of Synnøve Gravdal Heimvik
Synnøve Gravdal Heimvik

Synnøve’s dissertation ‘Of Rodents and Men: A Study of the Microfaunal Remains from Çamlıbel Tarlası’ focused on the utility of micromammals (mammals smaller than 1kg when alive) in understanding past environments.

“Micromammals have very limited environmental niches which mean that even the smallest changes in the local environment impacts micromammal diversity and frequency. Furthermore, some micromammals, such as house mice, react directly to human activity. Studying the presence/absence of these little critters can tell us, not only about the past environment, but also how people interacted with it and transformed it.” 

Over 1,200 micromammal bones were identified and recorded by Synnøve from Çamlıbel Tarlası, a Late Chalcolithic (ca. 3500 BCE) site located on the Central Anatolian Plateau, in today's Turkey. Her research has found that the local environment surrounding the site was dominated by grassland, shrubland, wetlands, and forests which stands in contrast to the much dryer and arid environment which dominate the area today.

“The site was inhabited episodically, meaning that people lived and utilised the land quite extensively, left, and then came back again several times. I found that in the phases where there was less human activity there were no forest dwelling species of micromammals,” explained Synnøve. “I interpreted this as human caused deforestation, and that the people left the site when they had depleted their woodland resources, and only came back once the forests had regrown. Also, the site was ‘infested’ with house mice, which cannot have been a pleasant experience; I know how much I hate to have little mice running around my flat!”

Of winning the Award Synnøve said, “I am obviously very excited about winning the John Evans Award – it’s a big confidence boost to have my work complimented by a panel of specialists in complementary fields.”

Synnøve was awarded a Carnegie Vacation Scholarship in 2019 which enabled her to begin her study of the material from Çamlıbel Tarlası and is now studying Archaeology (MScR) here.

The School sends it warmest congratulations to Synnøve on her award.


Find out more about the John Evans Dissertation Prize

More on the Carnegie Vacation Scholarships