Dr Nicole Boivin, Senior Research Fellow in Archaeology at Jesus College, has attended a reception given by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in honour of those involved in "Exploration and Adventure". It was also attended by personalities such as veteran BBC natural scientist Sir David Attenborough, Ranulph Fiennes, the first man to reach the North and South Poles by land unaided, and Ellen MacArthur, who broke the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe.

Dr Boivin is Principal Investigator in a five-year European Research Council project entitled Bridging continents across the sea: Multidisciplinary perspectives on the prehistoric emergence of long-distance maritime contacts in the Indian Ocean.

"The project is exploring early connections across the Indian Ocean", Dr Boivin explained. "You might say that we are exploring the earliest origins of the processes of long-distance connectivity that eventually culminate in the globalisation of today. We are exploring these through an innovative approach that draws upon traditional disciplines like archaeology and historical linguistics, but also new approaches like molecular genetics, ancient DNA studies and archaeological science. We are tracking early human contacts and trade through the scientific study of things like traded artefacts and perhaps most importantly, translocated plants and animals, which are often one of the first signals of long-distance contacts. These include commensal animals like the black rat, which 'hitchhike' on ships and are unknowingly transported by humans to new environments, but also domesticated crops and animals, many of which were moved at surprisingly early dates across vast areas of the Indian Ocean."