Dr Gareth Preston BSc (Hons), PhD

Research Fellow

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. 

Research Interests:

Palaeoenvironmental reconstruction

Environmental determinism

Late Quaternary climate change in Arabia

Arabian Gulf archaeology



The Late Glacial period in the UK


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


  • Journal articles
  • Book chapters
  • Other

Journal articles

Parker, A.G., Preston, G.W., Walkington, H., Hodson, M.J. (2006) Developing a framework of Holocene climatic change and landscape archaeology for the lower Gulf region, southeast Arabia. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 17, 125-130.

Preston, G.W., Parker, A.G., Walkington, H., Leng, M.J., Hodson, M.J. (2012). From nomadic herder-hunters to sedentary farmers: the relationship between climate change and ancient subsistence strategies in South-eastern Arabia. Journal of Arid Environments. 86, 122-130. 

Preston, G.W. and Parker, A.G. (2013). Understanding the evolution of the Holocene Pluvial Phase and its impact on Neolithic populations in south-east Arabia. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 24, 87-94.

Preston, G.W., Thomas, S.G., Goudie, A.S., Atkinson, O.A.C., Leng, M.J., Hodson, M.J., Walkington, H., Charpentier, V., Méry, S., Borgi, F., Parker, A.G. (2015) A multi-proxy analysis of the Holocene humid phase from the United Arab Emirates and its implications for southeast Arabia's Neolithic populations. Quaternary International 382, 277-292

Book chapters

Preston, G.W., Carr, S.J., Coleman, C.G., Parker, A.G. (2007) Younger Dryas Glaciation of the Brecon Beacons: Cwm Pwlffa. In Carr, S.J., Coleman, C.G., Humpage, A.J. and Shakesby, R.A., editors, Quaternary of the Brecon Beacons. Field Guide. Quaternary Research Association, London, 240-245.

Parker, A.G., Preston, G.W. (2008) Early to middle Holocene climate change and vegetation dynamics in the northern Oman Peninsula: An ecogeographical synthesis of the Jebel Al-Buhais environment. In Uerpmann, H-P, Uerpmann, M and Jasim, S.A., editors, The natural environment of Jebel al-Buhais: Past and present. Kerns Verlag, Tubingen, 71-82.

Preston, G.W. (2011) From nomadic herder-hunters to sedentary farmers: the relationship between climate, environment and human societies in the United Arab Emirates from the Neolithic to the Iron Age. Unpublished PhD thesis, Oxford Brookes University. 


Parker, A.G., Preston, G.W., Walkington, H. and Hodson, M.J. (2007) Geoarchaeology of the Arabian Gulf Neolithic: dynamic human and environments interactions. Quaternary International INQUA 2007 Abstracts 167-168, p. 317.

Preston, G.W., Parker, A.G., Walkington, H. and Hodson, M.J. (2007) Understanding the dynamic relationship between the Indian Ocean Monsoon and Westerly climatic systems in Arabia during the Holocene. Quaternary International INQUA 2007 Abstracts 167-168, p. 331.