Dr Fiona Coward
- 01202 961902
- fcoward at bournemouth dot ac dot uk
- Principal Academic in Archaeological Sciences
- Christchurch House C218b, Talbot Campus, Fern Barrow, Poole, BH12 5BB
- Cognitive neuroscience
- Complex systems
- Culture and cultural processes
- Evolutionary anthropology
- Human evolution
- Life history
- Prehistoric archaeology
- Quantitative methodology
- Social change
- Social cognition
- Temporal & spatial patterns
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I am an archaeologist whose work focuses on the multidisciplinary study of the evolution of human social life and cognition. I have a BA (Hons) in Archaeology and Anthropology from the University of Cambridge and an MA in Osteoarchaeology and PhD in Palaeolithic Archaeology from the University of Southampton.
I am programme co-ordinator for BA (Hons) Archaeology and Anthropology and interim programme co-ordinator for BSc (Hons) Biological Anthropology. First year teaching includes teaching on 'Ancient Peoples and Places' and 'Introduction to Anthropology' and co-ordinating 'Topics in Contemporary Science'. In the second year I teach 'Themes in Archaeology and Anthropology' and co-teach the osteoarchaeology option of 'Post-excavation skills'.
My research focuses on how and why humans were able to scale up their social lives from the very small social groups we lived in for much of our prehistory to the global social networks which characterise people’s lives today. My works takes a multidisciplinary perspective which emphasises the interrelations between the physical and social environments in which human evolution has taken place, and I am particularly interested in the role played by material culture in human social life... I was a member of the BA Centenary project 'From Lucy to Language: the archaeology of the social brain'.
Within this broad area I pursue two interlinked areas of research which focus on earlier and later periods of human social development. In the first I look at the relationship between physical and social environments during human evolution, and particularly the social changes that allowed our ancestors to expand out of African environments into Eurasia after around 1.7 million years ago. My second area of research focuses on the social developments which formed part of the shift from mobile hunting and gathering to settled village life from around 20,000BCE in the Near East.more
My research spans two interlinked themes:
Theme 1: I use a variety of techniques including GIS and agent-based modelling to investigate how past environments affected hominin life history and social structure, and how this impacted on the evolution of the human brain, life histories and cultural innovation and transmission.
Theme 2: I use techniques derived from social network analysis to investigate changes in material culture distribution as a proxy for social relations during the transition from mobile hunting and gathering to settled village life in the Epipalaeolithic and early Neolithic of the Near East 20-6,000BCE. I am a founding member of ‘The Connected Past’ project (http://connectedpast.soton.ac.uk/) developing methodologies derived from network science for use with archaeological and historical datasets.
- Coward, F., Tumler, D. and Basell, L., 2017. Human perception of symmetry, raw material and size of Palaeolithic handaxes. Lithics: the journal of the Lithic Study Society.
- Birch, S., Jenkins, E.L., Coward, F. and Maltby, M., 2017. Estimating population size, density and dynamics of Pre-Pottery Neolithic villages in the central and southern Levant: an analysis of Beidha, southern Jordan. Levant, 49 (1).
- Coward, F., 2016. Scaling up: material culture as scaffold for the social brain. Quaternary International.
- Collar, A., Coward, F., Brughmans, T. and Mills, B., 2015. Networks in Archaeology: Phenomena, Abstraction, Representation. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 22 (1), 1-32.
- Brughmans, T., Collar, A., Coward, F. and Lemercier, C., 2014. Analyser les réseau du passé en archéologie et en histoire. Les Nouvelles de l’Archéologie, 135, 9-13.
- Coward, F., 2014. Review of Wynn, T. and Coolidge, F. 'How to think like a Neanderthal'. Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 24 (1), 177-178.
- Coward, F., 2013. The evolution of the human mind: from supernaturalism to naturalism: an anthropological perspective. JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL INSTITUTE, 19 (3), 663-664.
- Coward, F., 2013. Review of Carneiro, R. 'The Evolution of the human mind: from supernaturalism to naturalism: an anthropological perspective'. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 19, 663-664.
- Coward, F., 2012. Rethinking Phylogeny and Ontogeny in Hominin Brain Evolution. Human Origins, 1, 65-91.
- Coward, F., 2012. Cro-Magnon: How the Ice Age Gave Birth to the First Modern Humans. GEOARCHAEOLOGY-AN INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL, 27 (6), 540-542.
- Coward, F. and Grove, M., 2011. Beyond the Tools: social innovation and hominin evolution. PalaeoAnthropology, 2011, 111-129.
- Coward, F., 2010. Casting the net wide: small worlds, material culture and social networks during the Epipalaeolithic and early Neolithic of the Near East. Bulletin of the Council for British Research in the Levant, 5, 52-56.
- Coward, F., 2009. Review of Wynn, T. and Coolidge, F. 'The rise of Homo sapiens: the evolution of modern thinking'. American Journal of Human Biology.
- Coward, F., 2008. Standing on the Shoulders of Giants. Science, 319, 1493-1495.
- Coward, F., 2008. Big Brains, Small Worlds: Material culture and human evolution. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London: Biological Sciences, 363, 1969-1979.
- Coward, F., Shennan, S., Colledge, S., Connelly, J. and Collard, M., 2008. The Spread of Neolithic Plant Economies from the Near East to Northwest Europe: a Phylogenetic Analysis. Journal of Archaeological Science, 35 (1), 42-56.
- Coward, F., 2008. From single neurons to social brains. Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 18 (3), 387-400.
- Coward, F., 2008. Review of Sellet, F., Greaves, R. and Yu, P-L. 'Archaeology and Ethnoarchaeology of mobility'. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 14, 899-900.
- Coward, F., Hosfield, R., Pope, M. and Francis, W.S., 2015. Settlement, society and cognition in human evolution: Landscapes in mind.
- Landscapes in Mind: Settlement, Sociality and Cognition in Human Evolution.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Neanderthals Among Mammoths: Excavations at Lynford Quarry, Norfolk. Swindon: English Heritage.
- Coward, F., 2019. Technological Intelligence or Social Wisdom? Promiscuous sociality, things, and networks in human evolution. In: Fuentes, A. and Deane-Drummond, C., eds. Evolution of Wisdom: major and minor keys. Pressbooks/The Center for Theology, Science, and Human Flourishing.
- Hosfield, R. and Wenban-Smith, F., 2015. Foreword. In: Coward, F. and Pope, M., eds. Landscapes in Mind: Settlement, Sociality and Cognition in Human Evolution.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, xxiii-xxviii.
- Coward, F. and Dunbar, R., 2014. Communities on the brink of civilization. In: Dunbar, R.I.M., Gamble, C. and Gowlett, J.A.J., eds. From Lucy to Language: the benchmark papers. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Coward, F., 2014. Becoming Human. In: Gardner, A., Lake, M. and Sommer, U., eds. Oxford Handbook of Archaeological Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Coward, F., 2013. Grounding the net: networks, environments and material culture in the Epipalaeolithic and early Neolithic of the Near East. In: Knappett, C., ed. Network Analysis in Archaeology: New Approaches to Regional Interaction. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
- Coward, F., 2011. 8mya-3,000BCE. History Year-by-Year. London: Dorling Kindersley.
- Coward, F., 2011. Misc Contributions. Evolution: The Human Story. Dorling Kindersley.
- Coward, F., 2010. Small worlds, material culture and Near Eastern social networks. In: Dunbar, R., Gamble, C. and Gowlett, J., eds. Social Brain, Distributed Mind. Oxford University Press, 449-479.
- Coward, F. and Gamble, C., 2010. Metaphor and Materiality in Early Prehistory. In: Malafouris, L. and Renfrew, C., eds. The Cognitive Life of Things: recasting the boundaries of the mind. Cambridge: McDonald Institute Monographs.
- Coward, F., 2009. The Rise of Humans. Prehistoric Life: The definitive visual history of life on Earth. London: Dorling Kindersley, 454-491.
- Coward, F.. Becoming Human. In: Gardner, A., Lake, M. and Sommer, U., eds. The Oxford Handbook of Archaeological Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Coward, F., 2019. Putting the ‘fit’ back into ‘survival of the fittest’: environments, landscapes and mutliscalar evolution in the human lineage. In: Resurrecting the ancient mind: cognitive science in archaeology and philology 5-6 December 2017 Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany.
- Coward, F., 2019. The wisdom of Homo sapiens: ‘the wisdom of the crowd’? Promiscuous sociality, things and networks in human evolution. In: Human Distinctiveness: wisdom’s deep evolution 6 July 2017-7 July 2019 Center for Theology, Science and Human Flourishing, University of Notre Dame London Gateway..
- Coward, F., Rabett, R. and Tan Van, T., 2018. SUNDASIA: recent fieldwork, human-environment interaction and prehistoric social networks in the Tràng An region of northern Vietnam. In: Bridging the gap and crossing borders: the transition from foraging to farming ni northern Vietnam and southern China 7-11 May 2018 Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.
- Coward, F., 2018. ‘All things being equal’? Multiplex material networks of the early Neolithic in the Near East. In: Society for American Archaeology Conference 9-13 April 2018 Washington D.C., US.
- Coward, F., 2018. Discussant, session on 'Challenges and Advances in the Archaeology and Palaeoanthropology of Non-Modern Humans'. In: Society for American Archaeology Conference 9-13 April 2018 Washington, D.C., US.
- Coward, F. and Kahlert, T., 2017. GIS and Terrain-Mapping in Tràng An, Vietnam. In: SUNDASIA Project International Workshop 16-17 March 2017 Ninh Binh, Vietnam.
- Birch, S., Coward, F., Jenkins, E. and Maltby, M., 2016. Estimating Population Parameters of Early Village Societies in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic Central and Southern Levant. In: International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East 25-29 April 2016 Vienna, Austria.
- Coward, F., 2015. What does (material) culture do? In: The Origins and Transmission of Culture: an interdisciplinary approach 13-14 August 2015 University of Birmingham.
- Coward, F., 2015. Using networks to investigate material identities in the Epipalaeolithic and early Neolithic of the Near East. In: Society of American Archaeology 15-19 April 2015 San Francisco, California.
- Coward, F., 2014. Identity, social networks and material environments in the Epipalaeolithic and early Neolithic of the Near East. In: British Association for Near Eastern Archaeology Annual Conference 9-11 January 2014 University of Reading.
- Coward, F., 2013. Archaeology and anthropology in a world of hybrids, cyborgs and posthumans. In: Theoretical Archaeological Group Conference 16-18 December 2013 Bournemouth University.
- Coward, F., 2013. How things help us think: Material culture as scaffold for the social brain. In: Theoretical Archaeology Group 16-18 December 2013 Bournemouth University.
- Coward, F., 2013. Getting to grips with the very earliest social networks: the challenges of using network methodologies to tackle Palaeolithic datasets. In: Society for American Archaeology Annual Meeting 3-7 April 2013 Honolulu, HI., USA.
- Coward, F., Collar, A. and Brughmans, T., 2012. The Connected Past: People, networks and complexity in archaeology and history. In: The Connected Past: People, networks and complexity in archaeology and history 24-25 March 2012 University of Southampton.
- Coward, F., 2011. How stuff made us: aesthetics, emotion and intelligence in human evolution. In: CAHO10: unravelling the Palaeolithic: 10 years of research at the Centre for the Archaeology of Human Origins. 28-29 January 2011 University of Southampton.
- Coward, F., 2010. ‘Thick’ networks? More-than-human networks in context in the Epipalaeolithic and early Neolithic of the Near East. In: Theoretical Archaeology Group Conference 15-17 December 2010 University of Bristol.
- Coward, F., 2010. Grounding the net: networks, environments and material culture in the Epipalaeolithic and early Neolithic of the Near East (~21-6,000 cal BP). In: Society for American Archaeology Annual Meeting 6-11 April 2010 St. Louis, Mo. USA.
- Coward, F., 2010. Self, display and concealment: constructing networks of identity in the Epipalaeolithic and early Neolithic of the Near East. In: The creation of ‘homes’ in the earliest farming period in Eurasia 4-5 February 2010 Durham University.
- Coward, F., 2009. Hominin neural ontogeny and socialization. In: Visual Display Seminar 4 December 2009 University of Southampton.
- Coward, F., 2009. Bodies as context: burial and materiality in the Epipalaeolithic and early Neolithic of the Near East. In: Bodily Histories 16-18 September 2009 University of Cambridge.
- Coward, F., 2008. Casting the net wide: materiality and social networks in the Epipalaeolithic and early Neolithic of the Near East. In: Theoretical Archaeology Group Conference 17-19 December 2008 University of Southampton.
- Coward, F., 2008. Small Worlds, material culture and ancient Near Eastern social networks. In: British Academy Centenary Research Project Symposium, 'Social Brain, Distributed Mind' 17-18 April 2008 British Academy, London.
- Coward, F., 2007. Human Person, Animal Person: a relational geography of Quaternary hunters. In: Royal Geographical Society/IBG Annual International Conference 2007 4-7 September 2007 Imperial College, London.
- Coward, F. and Gamble, C., 2007. While my guitar gently weeps: emotion, material culture and human evolution. In: The Sapient Mind: where archaeology and neuroscience meet 17-18 April 2007 McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge.
- Coward, F., 2007. Lived space, built space: corporal and material culture and the earliest architecture. In: Architecture in the Space of Flows 12-14 March 2007 The Cuture Lab, Newcastle University.
- Coward, F., 2006. Metaphor and Materiality in earliest prehistory. In: The Cognitive Life of Things 10-12 September 2006 McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge.
- Coward, F., 2006. Movement, Activity and Interaction: an ecosystemic approach to prehistory. In: Royal Geographical Society/IBG Annual International Conference 5-8 September 2006 Imperial College, London.
- Coward, F., 2018. Review of Stone Tools in Human Evolution: Behavioral differences among technological primates, by John J. Shea, 2017. New York (NY): Cambridge University Press; ISBN 978-1-107-55493-1 paperback £22.99. 236 pp., 51 b/w figs, 26 tables. Cambridge University Press. Published online.
- Coward, F., 2014. Archaeology and anthropology: past, present and future. Published.
- Shannon Birch, 2017. Population growth and social change in the earliest village societies of southwest Asia
Profile of Teaching UG
- Lecturer - Ancient Peoples and Places
- Unit Leader - Themes in Archaeology and Anthropology
- Unit Leader - Becoming Human
- Lecturer - Gathering Time
- Human Adaptation to Coastal Evolution: late Quaternary evidence from southeast Asia (SUNDASIA) (Arts and Humanities Research Council, 01 Jul 2016). Awarded
- British Science Festival, Recorder, Archaeology and Anthropology Section (2014-2017)
Public Engagement & Outreach Activities
- STEM Ambassador
- Science Tent, Bestival 2014
- Festival of Science at Bournemouth University 2013 - Primate & human evolution workshop
- Festival of Learning 2014 Bournemouth University - Primatology & Human evolution event
- PhD in Palaeolithic Archaeology (University of Southampton, 2005)
- MA in Osteoarchaeology (University of Southampton, 1999)
- BA (Hons) in Archaeology & Anthropology (Cambridge University, 1997)
- British Association of Near Eastern Archaeology, Member (2013-), http://banealcane.org/banea/
- European Society for the Study of Human Evolution, Member (2013-),
- Royal Anthropological Institute, Fellow (2013-),
- Society for American Archaeology, Member (2013-), http://www.saa.org/
- I am a founding member of 'The Connected Past', developing quantitative network methodologies for use with archaeological and historical datasets: http://connectedpast.soton.ac.uk/