Dr Rebecca Wragg Sykes

Dr Rebecca Wragg Sykes was made a patron of Humanists UK for their contribution to the greater public understanding of science.

Archaeologist, author, and public scholar

Photo of Dr Rebecca Wragg Sykes

Dr Rebecca Wragg Sykes is an archaeologist, author, and public scholar. An Honorary Research Associate at the McDonald Institute of Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge and Honorary Fellow in the School of Archaeology, Classics, and Egyptology, University of Liverpool, she maintains academic interests including the Neanderthals, technological evolution, and prehistory more broadly, intersecting with themes around women's roles in ancient times, and as archaeologists past and present.

Rebecca is widely recognised for her work as a public scholar. Her critically acclaimed first book Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art (2020) is published in 20 languages, won the 2021 PEN Hessell-Tiltman prize for history and Current Archaeology's Book of the Year, and was selected as one of the 2021 New York Times' 100 Notable Books. Her non-academic writing can be found in many publications and platforms, and she also appears regularly on a variety of radio programmes, podcasts and live events, ranging from BBC Radio 4 to Glastonbury Festival. Rebecca also works as a science and creative consultant with numerous stakeholders, from heritage organisations and museums to film and television companies. 

In recognition of her achievements in public scholarship and communication, in 2022 Rebecca received the Royal Anthropological Institute's Public Anthropology Award, and the President's Award from the Prehistoric Society. 

In 2024, Rebecca was awarded Humanists UK’s Darwin Day medal in recognition of her promotion of human origins and evolution, and her role as co-founder in 2013 of the influential organisation TrowelBlazers, highlighting women past and present within archaeology and the Earth Sciences. She delivered the Darwin Day Lecture on 'Humanity’s Superpower: Lessons in Community and Empathy from 4 Million to 40,000 Years Ago'. Her next popular book, Matriarcha: Prehistory Re-imagined is forthcoming, uncovering 5 million years of women's lives and experience.