Dr Gareth Preston

Research Fellow

School of Law and Social Sciences


Gareth is a Research Fellow in Quaternary Environmental Change/Geo-archaeology affiliated with the Human Origins and Palaeoenvironments (HOPE) Research Group. He gained his BSc (Geography & Physical Geography) in 2004 and his Ph.D. in 2011, both from Oxford Brookes University. His research interests lie in the areas of palaeoenvironmental reconstruction, Quaternary science and geo-archaeology.


Gareth’s research is interdisciplinary, broadly falling between the areas of Quaternary science and geo-archaeology, and has the primary aim of reconstructing landscape evolution throughout south-east Arabia and thereby identifying periods of climatic variation which may have influenced the behaviour of early human populations in the region. The complex relationship between early human societies and their natural surroundings remains a controversial subject and has been the focus of considerable debate amongst social scientists, archaeologists and paleoclimatologists over the past twenty years.

For his doctoral research Gareth analysed relict lake deposits in south-east Arabia to develop a record of climatic and environmental variation during the early to mid-Holocene period (11,500 – 3000 cal. yr BP). By placing the region’s archaeological evidence into this detailed framework of landscape evolution, Gareth's work demonstrated that early human societies adapted to the variable climatic regime by altering their subsistence strategies and settlement patterns, as well as by utilising new technologies. Ultimately, Gareth’s research highlighted why natural environment should always be considered as a potential driver of human actions particularly in marginal (arid) environmental settings.

In addition to his work in south-east Arabia, Gareth has conducted field research in a variety of locations throughout the United Kingdom, including the in Brecon Beacons, Snowdonia, the Loch Lomond area, and at Wittenham Clumps in Oxfordshire.




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Further details

  • 2005 - 2011: Ph.D. in Geography, Oxford Brookes University. Thesis title: From Nomadic herder-hunters to sedentary farmers: the relationship between climate, environment and early human societies in the United Arab Emirates from the Neolithic to the Iron Age.
  • 2001 - 2004: BSc in Geography and Physical Geography (First Class Honours), Oxford Brookes University