School of History, Classics and Archaeology

Staff Profile

Isabella Caricola

Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellow


As an archaeologist, I am particularly interested in the study of the prehistoric communities and their material cultures through the application of new methodologies, namely micro-wear and residues analysis. In detail, I investigate the methods of production and use of ancient tools to reconstruct socio-cultural and economic dynamics beyond specific choices. I have experience in use-wear analysis on both lithic and metal tools across Europe, Levant and Africa, from the Palaeolithic to the Bronze Age. The analysis involves the use of microscope equipment following both low- and high-power approaches (e.g. binocular stereomicroscope; reflected light metallographic microscope; Scanning Electronic Microscope (SEM); confocal microscope). I carried out experiments to produce large-scale reference collections; from animal butchering to plants and minerals processing. Over the last years, I integrated my methodology with the analysis of macro and micro-residues found on the archaeological artefacts.


The project “EuroDag, The first European daggers: Function, meaning, and social significance” is the first ever comparative study of the function of early European stone and metal daggers, c. 3800-1500 BC. The project aims to understand how early daggers were used, for what purposes, and in which social contexts, while also exploring whether meaningful functional differences might be discerned amongst this broad class of objects based on manufacturing technology, chronology, typology, or regional distribution. The research problem will be addressed through an original combination of micro-wear analysis and functional experiments with purpose-built replica objects. The importance of the project is threefold: (1) this is the first comprehensive functional analysis of a class of objects that, though widespread in Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Europe, is still poorly understood; (2) it is the first attempt ever made to examine both flint and metal daggers as a coherent set of artefacts; and (3) it is the first time that a researcher will develop a unified experimental and analytical methodology for the investigation of both lithic and copper-alloy objects from world prehistory.