My research focuses on the archaeology of Pleistocene humans, and in particular, the role of technologies in hunting. I have an MSc in Palaeoanthropology and Palaeolithic Archaeology from UCL (2010), and continued my research here as an AHRC funded doctoral student, completing my PhD in 2018. My doctoral thesis evaluated the earliest weapons in the archaeological record – plain wooden spears – holistically combining morphometric, experimental, and ethnographic approaches to these early organic tools.
My interdisciplinary research on early weaponry during my MSc and PhD at UCL involved a series of experiments in collaboration with engineers at Cranfield Defence and Security and athletes at Loughborough University, and included both controlled experiments as well as human performance trials. I am Co-PI on the 2019 project Hand-thrown spears: Ballistics, accuracy and learning to hunt among BaYaka Congo Basin foragers, funded by the Wenner-Gren and Leakey Foundations. In this research project, we aim to better understand how spear hunting is learned in forager societies, and how physiology, age and training contribute to accuracy and hunting success. I am a Research Affiliate of the Forager Children Interdisciplinary Studies Group: https://foragerchildstudies.wordpress.com/
I am also a keen science communicator through my blog: https://sticks-and-stones.blog/, as a contributor to The Conversation, for Nature: Ecology and Evolution and on Twitter: @AnnemiekeMilks. I am committed to communicating archaeological research to the wider community and to publishing Open Access, and my most recently published article is in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric ().
Pleistocene hunting technologies and strategies
The use of wood during the Pleistocene
Ballistics of early weapons (selected media coverage below)
How Palaeolithic children and societies learned subsistence skills
Open Access publishing and data sharing
Ethnography : benefits and limitations to human evolutionary studies.
Link to the Institute
I remain involved in research at UCL’s Institute of Archaeology through the Archaeology of Human Evolution Network, and recently as a speaker at the Palaeolithic Seminar Series: Diversification in Human Evolution Studies. I lead a session on Prehistoric Music and Instruments during the annual PrimTech course. I also contribute to teaching for the MSc Palaeoanthropology and Palaeolithic Archaeology core course.
Selected recent publications
- Milks, A. 2019. Skills shortage: A Critical Evaluation of the Use of Human Participants in Early Spear Experiments. EXARC Journal, 2019/2.
- Milks, A., Parker, D., Pope, M. 2019. External ballistics of Pleistocene hand-thrown spears: experimental performance data and implications for human evolution. Nature: Scientific Reports, 9:820.
- Milks, A. 2018. Making an Impact. Nature: Ecology & Evolution 2: 1057–1058. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41559-018-0600-9
- Milks, A., Champion, C., Cowper, E., Pope, M., Carr, D. 2016. Early spears as thrusting weapons: Isolating force and impact velocities in human performance trials. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 10: 191-203.
- Milks, A., Dinnis, R., Pope, M. 2016. Morpho-metric Variability Of Early Gravettian Tanged “Font-Robert” Points, And Functional Implications. In Iovita, R., & Katsuhiro, S. (Eds.) Multidisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Stone Age Weaponry. New York: Springer. Chapter 9, 135-146.
- PopeM., DinnisR., Milks A., TomsP., WellsC. 2013. A Middle Palaeolithic to Early Upper Palaeolithic succession from an open air site at Beedings, West Sussex. Quaternary International, 316: 14-26.