Dr Hayley Saul

Profile photo of Dr Hayley Saul

Hayley Saul is the Director of the Himalayan Exploration and Archaeological Research Team (opens in a new window)(H.E.A.R.T). Her research explores the heritage and archaeology of the Himalayas, and the interface of these disciplines with development agendas. H.E.A.R.T operates in community partnership with Nepalese communities as well as the charity-NGO Community Action Nepal (with whom Hayley is a heritage consultant), building an archaeology/heritage 'arm' to the charity in order to operationalise the results of H.E.A.R.T and bring about positive benefits to rural Nepalese communities. Utilising her field experience to record archaeological sites in the Annapurna and Langtang regions (Saul 2014), Hayley has led teams of archaeologists and surveyors on four major expeditions to date (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015), negotiating one of only two fieldwork permissions of its kind from the Department of Archaeology (KTM) to undertake archaeological fieldwork. Following her PhD at the University of York she undertook AHRC-funded postdoctoral research with the Early Pottery in East Asia Project. She was also a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science postdoctoral fellow on the Japanese Archaeo-Ceramic Residue Research Strategy project (JARRS), which investigated cuisine and foodways in prehistoric hunter-gatherer groups in Denmark, northern Germany and Japan throughout the Holocene. These researches have yielded publications in prestigious journals including Nature, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Plos One.

Her interest in culinary heritage endures in her research in Nepal, where she is currently building a community Museum of Cuisine (opens in a new window)with the village of Chaturale in the Himalayan foothills. Through action research, this project is investigating the role of museums − and heritage more widely − in imagining new ways of living in the Anthropocene. The Chaturale region is renowned for the quality of its foods, grown by a distinctive horticulture that values cuisine as part of a traditional human-divinity-animal eco-ideology and morality. The project will strengthen these extended community values, stimulate a sustainable source of income for the community to assist with rehoming displaced earthquake victims, and will be the first village in a wider vision to create an eco-friendly buffer to the rising pollution problems spreading from Kathmandu with increasing industry development. These researches add to Hayley's ongoing concern with investigating the ways that heritage can contribute positively to de-growth developments, food security, post-disaster recovery, and a sustainable commons. Following the 2015 earthquakes in Nepal, Hayley has also been working with international NGOs and the devastated community of Langtang, north-west of Kathmandu, to construct a heritage museum and a series of 'story-telling portals' throughout the earthquake damaged landscape.


PhD (Arts and Humanities Research Council), University of York

MA in Research, University of York, Scholarship funded

BSc (Hons) Archaeology, University of York

Honours and Awards

2016: Western Sydney University Vice Chancellor awarded funding for the Langtang Museum in Nepal, $20,000

2015: Frederick Williamson Memorial Fund, University of Cambridge, UK (Raute hunter-gatherer cuisine), $8000

2015: Endeavour Research Fellowship, Australian Government Department for Education and Training, (Tibetan communities in diaspora: e-museums and the construction of transnational heritage), $24,500

2013: Prehistoric Society (funding for H.E.A.R.T), £1000

2013: Landscope Engineering Ltd. (Sponsorship for H.E.A.R.T), £1000

2013: Society of Antiquaries (funding for H.E.A.R.T), £3300

2012: Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, c. £40,000

2008: Arts and Humanities Research Council PhD grant

Departmental Masters scholarship, University of York

Executive Committee Member of the Human Occupations of Mountainous Environments (HOME). The HOME Commission works to promote archaeological, anthropological and environmental research related to past human activities without any chronological or geographical restrictions. The group compares and shares approaches, methodologies and scientific results among its members and with any other individual or research group dealing with topics of interest to the commission. The commission holds regular meetings and workshops for members and has organised a series of sessions and publications at recent UISPP congresses.

Scientific advisory panel member to the Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project, 'The Origins of Pottery in East Asia', hosted by the University of York, UK

Scientific advisory panel member to the Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project, 'Melting Pot: Cuisine and Identities in Viking-Age Britain', hosted by the University of York, UK

Steering committee member for the Heritage and Arts Visitor Research Collaborative (HAVRC), hosted by York St John University, UK


Current Projects

The Chaturale Museum of Cuisine (Funded by the Frederick Williamson Memorial Fund, University of Cambridge)

The village of Chaturale just north-west of Kathmandu is situated on a historical trade route, amidst the verdant foothills of the Himalayas, which boast four of the world's most biodiverse 'hot spots'. Community heritage narratives are bound up with local pride in the culinary exotica that historically flowed into the region, contributing to complex cuisines, and also an awareness that such food quality is threatened by environmental degradation as Kathmandu's urban sprawl overflows its valley basin. The community is also one of many villages that continue to struggle with post-earthquake recovery, with a substantial proportion of residents still in temporary accommodation. This project seeks to: 1) Work with villagers to diversify their community economies in sustainable ways using heritage tourism as a means to host impactful cross-cultural conversations and generate funds for earthquake recovery work; 2) Strengthen customary food security practices and draw on traditional food-lore values to work with the community on adaptive measure to face their Anthropocene future; 3) Create an eco-positive 'buffer zone' to the environmentally damaging consequences of industry and growth-driven development that are emanating from the Kathmandu environs; 4) Provision ecological debates at the government and policy-making scale in Nepal with local scale environmental data and local strategies for resilience, using Chaturale as a 'living laboratory'.

The Langtang Heritage Trail and Museum (Funded through INGO support, including Community Action Nepal)

Following the 2015 earthquakes the hamlet of Langtang in the remote Himalayas of Nepal was devastated by an avalanche and mudslide that wiped out the village and many of its inhabitants. For five years before this event H.E.A.R.T had been working with the local community to record their oral histories and perform an ethnography of their notion of heritage. This project is now using those stories to build a 'heritage trail' of 'story-telling' portals, as a dispersed museum exhibition in the landscape. The portals adapt the traditional architecture of water-powered prayer wheel huts by fixing a turbine to the water-wheel which powers storytelling iPads. Before the quake 80% of the valley's inhabitants were involved in the tourism industry and it was the third most popular trek in Nepal. Six months after the devastating quake only 10 people a day were visiting. That means revenue is down from $186,000 to $43,000 last year. Taking an action research approach this project endeavours to encourage tourism back to the Langtang Valley in order that revenue can be reinvested by the community in earthquake reconstruction.

Past Projects

The Himalayan Exploration and Archaeological Research Team (H.E.A.R.T) – on hold following earthquakes (2013, funded through the Prehistoric Society and the Society of Antiquaries of London)

By at least the beginning of the Holocene warming period (~11 kya), if not earlier, hunter-gatherer communities across Eurasia were involved in the early cultivation of foods such as rice, millets, wheat and barley that, today, have become invaluable staples feeding the majority of the world's population. Part of this process of domestication involved the movement of species across enormous distances of thousands of kilometres over the (sub)continents of Asia, South Asia, Europe and East Asia. However, over 500,000 square kilometres of this landmass is covered by the Himalayas, and geographically they occupy a band that is traditionally conceived of as a formidable barrier to exchange. Instead, routes that later became formally enshrined in the silk roads are considered likely lines for the dispersal of globally important plant and animal foods. As its starting point this project contests this supposedly insubstantial role for the Himalayas in pan-Eurasian exchanges during the earlier Holocene, hypothesising instead that the high altitude/relief offered a specialised draw to hunter-gatherer communities because of the biodiversity, affordances to broad spectrum diets, precious stones, and other assets, like salt, found in these mountainous landscapes. This project investigates whether the Nepalese Himalayas were implicated in pan-Eurasian exchange of commodities like globally important food crops right back into prehistory by: targeting valleys with navigable high altitude passes for archaeological survey and mapping in order to investigate the earliest evidence for settlement and/or mobility in the high altitudes of the Himalayas.

Early Pottery in East Asia (2013, funded through the Arts and Humanities Research Council), incorporating The Jomon Archaeo-Ceramic Residue Research Strategy (2012, funded through the Japan Society for the Promotion of Sciences)

By analysing lipid biomolecules and plant microfossils recovered from prehistoric Japanese (Jomon) pottery this project established the earliest known use of ceramic containers in the world and exploring the way that prehistoric groups negotiate a relationship to the environment through food. These researches led to high profile publication of an article in Nature (Quartile 1, ranked 1/56, Impact Factor 38.597).

Prehistoric Cuisine in the Baltic Region (2008-2011, funded through the Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK)

This project incorporated and developed biomolecular techniques to generate high-resolution culinary datasets from prehistoric pottery residues in order to investigate Mesolithic and Neolithic cuisine. This PhD research into the early use of container-technology in northern-Europe resulted in six articles in well-regarded journals and a scholarly book chapter, including high profile contributions to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Quartile 1, ranked 4/56, Impact Factor, 9.809), PloS One (Quartile 1, ranked 7/56, Impact Factor, 3.534), Antiquity (Quartile 2, Impact Factor 1.439) and Journal of Archaeological Science (Quartile 2, Impact Factor 1.889).

Selected Publications


Saul, H & Waterton, E (eds) 2018, Affective geographies of transformation, exploration and adventure: rethinking frontiers (opens in a new window), Routledge, Abingdon & Oxon.

Saul, H (in preparation), Mesolithic cuisine in transition: ethnography of food in prehistoric hunter-gatherer societies, Cambridge University Press, New York.

Saul, H, Waterton, E & Watson, S (eds) (in review), Frontiers: geographies of travel, exploration and adventure.

Book Chapters

Saul, H & Waterton, E 2018, 'Introduction: rethinking frontiers: transformation, exploration and adventure', in H Saul & E Waterton (eds), Affective geographies of transformation, exploration and adventure: rethinking frontiers, Routledge, Abingdon & Oxon, pp. 1-14.

Saul, H & Waterton, E 2018, ‘Anthropocene landscapes’, in P Howard, I Thompson, E Waterton & M Atha (eds), The Routledge companion to landscape studies: 2nd edition (opens in a new window), Routledge, Abingdon & Oxon, pp. 139-152.

Saul, H 2018, '"Challenging demoniacal beings": extinction, materialities and the mortal frontiers in Alexandra David-Neel’s journeys in the Himalayan highlands', in H Saul & E Waterton (eds), Affective geographies of transformation, exploration and adventure: rethinking frontiers, Routledge, Abingdon & Oxon, pp. 102-116.

Saul, H 2018, ‘The temporality of post-disaster landscapes’, in P Howard, I Thompson, E Waterton & M Atha (eds), The Routledge companion to landscape studies: 2nd edition (opens in a new window), Routledge, Abingdon& Oxon, pp. 440-450.

Saul, H & Waterton, E (in press), 'Leaving Langtang', in R Smith (ed.), The day the earth shook.

Craig, OE, Saul, H & Spiteri, C (in press) 'Residue analysis of archaeological artefacts', in M Richards (ed.), Archaeological Science: an Introduction, Cambridge University Press.

Saul, H & Waterton, E 2017, 'Restoring a Nyingma Buddhist monastery: a window on local heritage and its conservation', in H Silverman, E Waterton & S Watson (eds), Heritage in action, Cham, Switzerland, Springer, pp. 33-46.

Waterton, E & Saul, H 2017, ‘Public education and archaeology: disciplining through education’, In Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology, Springer, New York, pp. 1–8.

Nishida, Y, Saul, H, Heron, CP, Craig, OE (in review), 'Hot dishes and hunter-gatherer cuisine at the beginning of the Jomon period, Japan', in, K Gibbs & P Jordan, Circumpolar ceramics (Proceedings of the 2013 Society for America Archaeology meeting, Honolulu), Cambridge University Press.

Saul, H & Craig, OE 2014, 'Stewings on a theme of cuisine: a critical analysis of food values in subsistence economics and social consumption perspectives at the transition to agriculture in northern Europe', in A Whittle & P Bickle (eds), Early farmers: the view from archaeology and science, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Refereed Journal Articles

Saul, H & Waterton, E (in press), 'Frontier trails around the Himalayan Annapurnas: a narrative quintet in a landscape of movements', invited contribution to the special issue of Journal of Heritage Tourism – Cultural and heritage routes and trails.

Saul, H & Waterton, E 2017, ‘A Himalayan triptych: narratives of traders, pilgrims and resistance in a landscape of movements’, Journal of Heritage Tourism, vol. 12, no. 5, 431–440.

Saul, H & Waterton, E 2017, ‘Heritage and communities of compassion in the aftermath of the great earthquake, Nepal: a photographic reflection’, Journal of Community Archaeology & Heritage, vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 142–156.

Heron, C , Habu, J, Katayama Owens, M, Yumiko, I, Eley, Y, Lucquin, A, Radini, A, Saul, H, Debono Spiteri, C & Craig, O 2016, 'Molecular and isotopic investigations of pottery and "charred remains" from Sannai Maruyama and Sannai Maruyama No. 9, Aomori Prefecture, Japan', Japanese Journal of Archaeology, vol. 4, pp. 1–24.

Saul, H 2016, The Nepalese Himalayas in prehistoric context: the role of trans-Himalayan mobility in the development of Eurasian cultivation and domestication, History Compass, vol. 14, no. 5, pp. 191–205.

Lucquin, A, Gibbs, K, Uchiyama, J, Saul, H, Ajimoto, M, Eley, Y, Heron CP, Shoda, S, Nishida, Y, Lundy, JY, Jordan, PD, Isaksson S & Craig, OE, 2016, 'Ancient lipids document continuity in the use of early hunter-gatherer pottery through 9,000 years of Japanese prehistory', Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1522908113.

Saul, H & Waterton, E 2015, '"To climb steep hills requires slow pace at first": narratives of cultural resilience in the community of Langtang, in the Nepalese Himalayas', Journal of Contemporary Archaeology, vol. 2, no. 2.

Saul, H 2014, 'The Himalayan exploration and archaeological research team: scientific-humanitarian fieldwork in collaboration with the mountain communities of Nepal', SAA Archaeological Record, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 26-30.

Saul, H, Madella, M, Hartz, S, Glykou, K, Craig, O & Fischer, A 2013, 'Phytoliths in pottery reveal the use of spice in European prehistoric cuisine', PLoS ONE, vol. 8, no. 8.

Craig, OE, Saul, H, Lucquin, A, Nishida, Y, Taché, K, Clarke, L, Thompson, A, Altoft, D, Gibbs, K, Isaksson, S, Heron CP & Jordan, P 2013, 'Earliest evidence for the use of pottery', Nature, vol. 496, no. 7445, pp. 351-354.

Heron, C, Craig, O, Andersen, SH, Fischer, A, Glykou, K, Hartz, S, Saul, H & Steele, V 2013, 'Illuminating the late mesolithic: residue analysis of "blubber" lamps from northern Europe', Antiquity, vol. 87, no. 335, pp. 178-188.

Craig, O, Steele, V, Fischer, A, Hartz, S, Glykou, A, Andersen, S, Saul, H, Donohoe, P, Jones, DM & Heron, CP 2011, 'Ancient lipids reveal continuity in culinary practices across the transition to agriculture in Northern Europe', Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, vol. 108, no. 44, pp. 17910-17915.

Saul, H, Craig, O, Heron, C, Glykou, A, Hartz, S & Wilson, J 2012, 'A systematic approach to the recovery and identification of starches from carbonised deposits on ceramic vessels', Journal of Archaeological Science, vol. 39, no. 12, pp. 3483-3492.


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