EARLY CAREER ACHIEVEMENT PRIZE 2021
The Oscar Montelius Foundation (OMF) Trustees,
consisting of Peter Biehl (Chair), Elin Dalen and
Margaret Gowen Larsen have decided to award the first
Early Career Achievement Prize (ECAP) of the OMF to
From the University of York, United Kingdom
Dr. Anita Radini is awarded the Early Career Achievement Prize 2021 on the grounds of the
social, innovation, interdisciplinarity and international impact of her early career work.
Dr. Radini was amongst the first archaeologists to recognise the potential of dental calculus
(tartar) in bioarchaeological research. She pioneered the concept of the human mouth as a
“dust trap”, with dental calculus entrapping and preserving a lifetime signature of inhaled
organic and inorganic debris. Her thesis demonstrated that this previously ignored substrate
provides unique insights into the environment directly experienced by people during their
lifetimes, exploring the living conditions and health in past societies. She has pursued this
innovative research direction developing and optimizing methods for recovering a range of
microdebris from ancient materials.
Dr. Radini’s research is part of an interdisciplinary team of collaborators from across
Europe and America in osteology, isotope science, genomics, proteomics and metabolomics,
preserving the vast but rapidly deteriorating Arctic archaeological heritage as a front-line
focus in contemporary archaeology. Her previous work conducted across broad geographical
and temporal contexts, demonstrated the wide variety of particles that can be retrieved from
dental calculus, identifying wood dust in Neanderthals from Spain as well as in Medieval
Britons. Her work uncovered the international trade of medicinal and imported species
throughout Europe, and from the New World. She has identified exposure to smoke and
burnt debris such as micro-charcoal and soot dating back to the Middle Pleistocene in Israel,
including potentially the earliest evidence of exposure to smoke for the genus Homo.
Dr. Radini has carefully scrutinised her identifications, accumulating bespoke reference
collections to authenticate her finds, and engaged in the scholarship of the research question
by contextualising the results within historical environmental and behavioural contexts. She
is developing new methodologies to understand exposure to occupational pollutants and their
links to health in past populations; she is also working with contemporary craftspeople and
by ‘reliving the past’ her work is helping to improve our understanding of health in modern
and future societies. Her research expands our understanding of air pollutant exposures
associated with traditional craft production, often carried out within developing societies as a
means of poverty alleviation.
In view of the above, Dr. Radini can be considered an outstanding early career researcher
fulfilling all the selection criteria, and is awarded the 2021 Early Career Achievement Prize of
the Oscar Montelius Foundation.