Hi, my name is Katharina Becker Hayslep and I am a PhD student specialising in osteoarchaeology. My PhD project (self-funded) focuses on the human remains found at Early Neolithic causewayed enclosures and is interested in exploring the funerary practices conducted at these sites. Using an osteobiographical approach, each skeleton and disarticulated bone is examined in detail, creating profiles for each individual and a comprehensive database of human remains from these sites.
I am also a PGR rep for Archaeology and occasionally organise student events.
I studied for a BA in Philosophy and Sociology at Exeter University before doing an MA in Translation at Exeter. After working in translation for a couple of years, I decided I wanted to do something that allowed me to continue to learn and develop so I took the opportunity to study MSc Archaeology at Southampton University. I loved it so much I decided to continue and pursue a PhD at Exeter University.
I am an osteoarchaeologist meaning I specialise in the study of human remains. I am particularly interested in using forensic and archaeothanatological methods to understand prehistoric funerary practices, in particular in the British Early Neolithic. I am also interested in the role that emotion plays in these contexts and how we can talk about emotion in a prehistoric setting at all. In general, my approach is influenced by my interest in sociology and philosophy; I am deeply motivated to tell compelling human stories rooted in evidence.
I am currently working on the final stages of my PhD project (self-funded) which involves examining the human remains from Early Neolithic causewayed enclosures across southern England. The aim is, besides comprehensively cataloguing and analysing the remains using up-to-date methods, to assess the evidence for different kinds of funerary practices such as excarnation and compare the results to findings from long barrows. Given the relative frequency of articulated burials at these sites, I have taken the opportunity to write detailed osteobiographies for every individual deposited, including assessing their deposition context, age, sex, pathologies and published isotope analysis. This can give us a rich insight into Neolithic lifeways. The next stage is to analyse the data on the disarticulated remains and then compare everything to long barrows.
My supervisors are Dr. Laura Evis and Professor Alan Outram.
I have given several presentations at symposia and conferences:
- “Let them lie: One possible explanation for single inhumation burials in the Neolithic of the British Isles” at Exeter Humanities PGR Symposium Series, online, March 2021.
- “Causewayed Enclosures: A brief history of interpretation” at ‘Levelling up the British Neolithic’ conference run by the Neolithic Studies Group, online, 14th May 2022.
- “Does empathy have a place in archaeological endeavour? And if it does, what is it?” at the Ex Historia Conference, Exeter, 19th May 2022.
- “The Lives and Deaths of Children during the Neolithic: Three case studies from causewayed enclosures” at Ex Historia seminar series, Exeter, 3rd November 2022.
- "Osteobiography as a tool for exploring the vibrancy of human life: A prehistoric case study" at the Ex Historia Conference, Exeter, 10th May 2023.
- "Let them lie: An osteobiographical exploration of early Neolithic articulated bodies from causewayed enclosures in southern Britain" at the EAA conference in Belfast, 31st August 2023.