Ms Kasey Emma Allely

MA, BA(Hons), BA

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Doctoral Candidate - Doctor of Philosophy


Kasey Beresford is a currrent PhD student studying Anthropology at the University of Auckland. Her areas of interest include coastal prehistory, site formation and taphonomy, the theoretical basis for the construction of archaeological knowledge and the transition to food production. She has fieldwork experience in New Zealand, Australia and Saudi Arabia. For the WARPED Project (Weipa Archaeological Research Project and PalaeoEnvironmental Data) she developed a new method to record 3D stratigraphic sections of prehistoric shell mounds using a robotic total station and DGPS and maintains the GIS (Geographic Information System) database. In DISPERSE she is assisting in the investigation and interprestation of the Farasan Island shell mounds.

Research | Current

PhD thesis topic: How well do we “know” the past? Examining the evidence for a global transition to low-level food production in the early-mid Holocene.

Evolutionary theory in archaeology is unilinear in its explanation of cultural change and relies on typological models which do not incorporate datasets at temporal or geographical scales large enough to be significant in terms of evolutionary processes. One way to deconstruct this macroevolutionary perspective is to select a theoretical cultural “stage” within archaeological tradition, and critically analyse it using the same excavation, sampling and analytical techniques from multiple geographic areas. This research exposes the differences between physically similar archaeological deposits (shell mound sites) typically regarded to represent low-level food producers (LLFPs). Large shell mounds are often considered the material remains of LLFPs, signifying a trend towards “complexity”, sedentism, territoriality and intensification of resources. However, the variability between shell mound sites is poorly documented, not easily comparable, and often based on a “type site” within a particular region. Shell mounds of similar age across three geographical areas (Weipa, Australia; Farasan Island, Saudi Arabia and California, USA), will be examined to challenge assumptions that they are evidence of cultural “traits” which signify the same socio-evolutionary “stage”.

My research objectives are to:

  • Categorise variation in morphology, internal composition and location of Holocene aged shell mounds.

  • Consider the each shell mound in the context of its unique position in time and space, using a socio-natural perspective, which enables the shell mounds to be conceptualised within a historically contingent framework

  • Assess the impacts of taphonomic and post-depositional impacts which have affected the archaeological remains and the subsequent shell mounding behavioural “signature”

  • Evaluate whether the physical properties of the shell mounds and the processes involved in shaping what is observable today place limitations on how the past can/should be reconstructed

  • Compare new results to determine if local instances of shell mounding behaviour support traditional macroevolutionary narratives of staged cultural change


  • Senior Scholar in Anthropology

  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours) with First Class Honours – The University of Auckland

  • Master of Arts with First Class Honours – The University of Auckland

  • Masters in Anthropology Scholarship

  • The Blaze O’Connor Prize

  • University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Beresford, C. E. (2011). Understanding human behavioural change and shell mound location at Albatross Bay, Cape York, Australia The University of Auckland. ResearchSpace@Auckland. Related URL.

Contact details

Primary office location

HSB - EAST - Bldg 201E
New Zealand