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University of Oxford

UOA 33 - Archaeology

RA5a: Research environment and esteem

University of Oxford: UOA33








The School of Archaeology has seen significant change since RAE2001, with many posts being refilled and one additional post created. Of the 40 Category A staff submitted here, only 18 were returned in RAE2001. Research is our prime focus within the School - all academic staff are returned in this RAE. Not included here are other archaeologists in Egyptology, Assyriology, Islamic and Chinese archaeology, Middle Eastern Bronze Age (about 11 in total) and Classics (about 12), and also numismatists (4). They are returned to other UoAs, but contribute substantially to the context of archaeology in Oxford. Collaboration between all Oxford archaeologists is good, and in some cases (e.g., Rawson in Oriental Studies) particularly close.


Our highest organizational priority has been to enhance the connectivity between the various components of the School and more broadly across the University. Increased coordination between the Institute of Archaeology and Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art (RLAHA) is evidenced by the growing number of joint grant applications and successful awards. The latest is a NERC Consortium Grant of £3.4M, awarded in June 2007. A new post created in the School was specifically a joint appointment between the Institute and RLAHA to further promote collaborative activity (Schulting). Archaeology in Oxford has received substantial infrastructural investment. The Ashmolean Museum is undergoing a major re-build  (£49M). The Pitt Rivers Museum has a new research wing (£3.7M). A JIF award of £2.5M was made for a new radiocarbon accelerator installed in September 2001. In 2006 RLAHA was relocated into refurbished accommodation on the Science Area using a £2.47M SRIF award.



Research Students and Studentships


The School hosts one of the largest UK archaeology graduate schools (a total of 104 PRS/DPhil and 29 Masters Students were registered in the School in 2006/7, but not all supervised by UoA 33 staff). This exceeds our total undergraduate numbers, demonstrating the strong research ethos throughout the School. Also the Department of Continuing Education offers part-time DPhils in Archaeology (currently 8) and Masters (18), expanding our coverage into Professional Archaeology, the CPD programme being sponsored by EH.


In addition to the University-wide scholarships available to support outstanding international research students (e.g., Clarendon, of which we were awarded four this year), we have two endowed sources of research studentship support: the Edward Hall Memorial Fund, which provides fees for students in Archaeological Science, and the Hilti Studentships (one per year, fully funded) for Archaeology. We also have c. £10,000 per year for student support from the Meyerstein Bequest, which is awarded competitively to support research students’ projects. We have recently used Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit income to support a DPhil student, and endowment income from the Bodleian Library to support a joint DPhil student. In common with the rest of the University, we identify the need to increase graduate scholarships as the highest priority for our own and the University’s fundraising initiatives, and we have agreed to spend up to £200K from our own reserves to support some postgraduate studentships in 2007/8.



Research Income


We have noted above the substantial infrastructure investment made into archaeology in Oxford during this RAE period. In (partial) 2001/02 our research spend was £1.03M (94% from Research Councils). This dropped to £0.62M in 03/04, as a result of staff turnover, but has climbed back to £1.43M in 06/07 (74% from RCs), which is equivalent to c. £40K per FTE cat A staff per year. The strong upward trend since 03/04, combined with recent successes and an increase in the number of applications, gives us every confidence that we can maintain our annual research spend at or above £1.5M per year in real terms.



Research Structure and Infrastructure


The School of Archaeology is made up of three main research groups: prehistoric archaeology, classical and historical archaeology and science-based archaeology. Oxford is one of very few places in the world where these three aspects exist in significant numbers within the same academic unit - something we see as a key strength and distinguishing feature. Research in the School aims to understand the full range of human history, but concentrating on the last 10,000 years where movements to settled life and then to states and empires take place. Given the scientific strengths available in archaeology and elsewhere in Oxford, we also make serious attempts to set these developments against a longer term record of environmental, biological and climatic change. Each area of archaeology has its own centre of gravity, physically and intellectually. Crucially, however, none form distinct research clusters, but rather a series of networks which connect people and research projects in a variety of ways. A single individual therefore interacts in their research with a series of other people across the School and elsewhere. Communication is facilitated within and between these networks by a number of regular seminar series, including Medieval Archaeology, Byzantine Art and Archaeology, Barbarian Archaeology, Quaternary Research and Archaeological Science, and discussion groups in Roman Archaeology, Ancient Architecture, Classical Archaeology, Greek Archaeology and Materiality. Connectedness rather than co-location is our key strategic aim, although physical developments in Oxford over the next 10 years may facilitate further consolidation. The School of Archaeology enjoys a series of productive research links with other Oxford disciplines, including anthropology, art history, classics, earth sciences, genetics, geography, oriental studies, plant sciences, chemistry and physics.


The School studies a great range of human history from Neanderthals to the recent colonial past, having especial strengths in the later prehistoric periods of Europe, the growth, operation and aftermath of the states and empires of Greece and Rome, the archaeology of Africa, computer applications, dating techniques, biomolecular archaeology and diet, and materials analysis. Many in the School are creating primary data through field projects of various forms or through laboratory analysis. Our work is theoretically informed, but this theory is practice-led, so that we attempt to develop broader intellectual frameworks around bodies of material, sites or landscapes. It follows that there is a strong interest within the School in methodology, whether this be developing aspects of GIS which can cope with qualitative data, refining statistical methods for interpreting radiocarbon dates, or developing quantitative methods for modelling the Roman economy.


After a short description of the organization of archaeology in Oxford, we outline the main research achievements of each of our three research groupings, as well as looking at links between them, and future plans.


Because of its size, history and diverse interests, archaeology in Oxford is institutionally and physically complex. The School of Archaeology is on two main sites - the RLAHA has recently moved into completely refurbished accommodation on the Science area where it shares a building with the Centre for the Environment (Geography) and is in close proximity to Chemistry, Zoology, Plant Sciences, Earth Sciences and the Pitt Rivers Museum; most other archaeologists are housed in the Institute of Archaeology, the Ashmolean Museum or the Classics Centre which cluster at a second location. The School spans two Divisions of the University – Humanities and Social Sciences, with classical archaeology in the former and prehistoric and scientific archaeologists in the latter. Archaeology is a discipline which has complex links to many others, and, when well-managed, this connectivity is an enormous source of strength and inspiration. Those archaeologists within Humanities maintain regular and excellent links with art history, classics, history and oriental studies, as well as the Ashmolean Museum - reinforced by teaching, as well as research. Those within Social Sciences were formerly within Life and Environmental Sciences until this was dissolved in 2006 and archaeology moved as a block with anthropology and geography, our two closest cognate disciplines, into Social Sciences. We are now able to maintain our old scientific links (through physical presence on the science area) and also explore new ones with a range of social scientists.


Key sets of connections also come through three of the University’s museums: the Ashmolean, Natural History Museum and the Pitt Rivers Museum, and also the Bodleian Library (in this context, as another physical repository of historic objects). The current interest in the humanities in historical change, the nature of art and aesthetics across a range of periods and the combination of text and material evidence are all key lines of intellectual linkage helping us to make use of the research potentials of the University’s collections. Within the social sciences the growing emphasis on human contributions to climate and environmental change and dating pulls together archaeology and geography (especially the palaeoecology and climate change groups) and here the collections and researchers of the Natural History Museum are of importance. The contemporary interest in theories of the material world draw together archaeologists and anthropologists, as well as giving pivotal importance to the global collections of the Pitt Rivers Museum.


Research activity in prehistoric archaeology ranges between early periods of human prehistory during the Palaeolithic to the end of prehistory in Europe, Africa and the Pacific. At both ends of Africa major programmes of research are in place - Morocco through Barton’s work and southern Africa where Mitchell is active. In both cases longer term research plans are in place: in Morocco to investigate the origins of modern human behaviour, whereas in southern Africa the expansion of farmers and their relationships with hunter-gatherers is key. Such work requires detailed dating and environmental reconstruction, which links in with RLAHA. Colonial histories in southern Africa are also being investigated and these find a parallel in work in the Pacific carried out by Gosden. In Europe the major effort has been on the end of prehistory through to the Roman period, with Cunliffe, Gosden and Lock working on these issues in Britain, France, Spain and Italy. Links with those in Classical archaeology are key here. Further areas of research concentration look at the spatial distribution of activities through computer analysis carried out by Lock and more general theoretical concerns about the relationship between people and the material world pursued by Gosden and others, in collaboration with neighbouring disciplines. The recent appointments of Schulting, Bogaard and Hicks have significantly added to the strength of the School. Schulting, with his interest in isotopic approaches to understanding Mesolithic and Neolithic economies and spatial organization, is an ideal bridge between RLAHA and the Institute. Bogaard is an archaeobotanist specializing in early agriculture, and complements Mark Robinson to increase Oxford’s capacity for environmental archaeology. Hicks is a post-Medieval archaeologist and has a Curator-Lectureship post with the Pitt Rivers Museum, thus cementing our research links with this important resource.


In classical and historic archaeology, the relationship between art, representation and the built environment are key issues in the Greek and Roman worlds. Smith, DeLaine, and Walker are looking at art and visual culture in the public realm, including statuary and the manner in which major buildings were constructed in Italy, Asia Minor and elsewhere within the Roman world. This allows privileged insights into the links between power, representation and the reception of images. Wilson (together with ancient historians) has a large-scale project on the quantification of the Roman economy, reassessing earlier views of the relative stagnant role of production, as opposed to consumption, in the ancient world. Stamatopoulou is researching burial practices in Thessaly from the Archaic to the end of the Hellenistic periods. The links between Greek colonies and local populations in the Caucasus is the subject of the Pichnvari excavations (Vickers). Both Lemos and Bendall are focusing on pre-Classical Greece of the Bronze and Iron Ages in the Aegean, looking at the changing nature of trade, exchange, social structure and consumption from the palaces of the Bronze Age through to the origins of the Greek states. In both cases the relationship between written records and archaeology is key (Bendall being one of a handful of scholars internationally who combines archaeology with Linear B). The relationship between archaeology and text is also important in the post-Roman world and Hamerow is focusing on issues such as settlement and the use of material culture in the massive re-orientation of society that occurred after the withdrawal of the legions from northwest Europe. This is complemented by Griffiths’ work in northern England and Scotland on Viking period settlement patterns. Mango’s research on the built environment, written records, and trade of the pivotal Late Roman Period focuses on change in society and material culture from the Classical to the Medieval period within the Eastern Roman ‘Byzantine’ Empire, and, in particular, to the Islamic in the Levant.


Scientific archaeological research is largely focussed within the RLAHA. The previous Director (Tite) retired in October 2004 and was replaced by Pollard. This has resulted in a gradual change in research focus, but still within the three major research themes – dating, biomolecular archaeology and materials science. RLAHA moved to newly refurbished laboratory premises in January 2006, using £2.47M from SRIF. This is adjacent to the Oxford University Centre for the Environment, with whom we are increasing our research collaboration, especially with the physical geographers and palaeoecologists (e.g., fieldwork in China to study the environmental impact of large scale pottery production). We are also close to Earth Sciences, with whom we have growing research collaboration (e.g., Hedges and Henderson’s joint NERC grant on Ca isotopes, and chemical analysis of microtephra using micro-SIMS and HR-ICP-MS).


Oxford has excellent infrastructure to support archaeological research. The Bodleian Library (including the Radcliffe Science Library) is of international standard. Of particular relevance is the Sackler Library, which is acknowledged to be one of the best archaeology and ancient history libraries in the world. Not only is this an outstanding resource for Oxford, but it also attracts many UK and international scholars, who, through seminars and discussions contribute to the vitality of archaeology in Oxford. There are a number of other specialist libraries, such as the Tylor and Balfour Libraries with holdings on anthropology, ethnology and world prehistory, and also the Plant Sciences library and herbarium, as well as college libraries. University museums, principally the Pitt Rivers and Ashmolean, hold world-class collections of archaeology and ethnography, with supporting archives. These provide a virtually infinite amount of material for research and also attract research visitors from all over the world. RLAHA is a world-leader in archaeological radiocarbon dating (and provides a national dating service), and the new joint luminescence dating laboratory (with Geography) is one of the largest in the world. In addition, we have a suite of stable isotope mass spectrometers, plus GC-IRMS and HPLC-MS, both capable of compound-specific isotopic measurements. We also have two XRF spectrometers, and two analytical electron microscopes. In addition, the Institute of Archaeology provides GIS and other computer support and a range of facilities, notably a drawing office and a photographic unit. Another important facility is provided by the Department for Continuing Education which hosts regular archaeological conferences, workshops and short courses, many of international scope and organised by members of the School.


We have a number of financial mechanisms in place for promoting research. The School itself has a small amount of internal funds to support research, principally the Meyerstein Fund (c. £15,000 per year, of which £10K is allocated to student support). In addition, the University-wide Fell Fund (c. £5M per year) is available to all staff, but particularly tries to support early career researchers, pilot projects, interdisciplinary projects and projects coming to publication. In the last year alone we have obtained around £150K from this source. Over the last three years we have held a series of staff seminars in which individual members of staff discuss their own current research and future plans, so as to inform other members of the School and provide possibilities for future collaboration. In addition we have held a number of away-days within the assessment period to discuss future directions of the School, focussing on research, its coordination and future plans. By these means has emerged more cohesion within the School and a number of new collaborative initiatives in materials analysis, dating programmes and a stress on art and aesthetic aspects of material culture. A further key feature has been the activity of the Graduate Archaeology Organisation, which has run a series of seminars on a variety of topics and also an annual conference, the first of which is now coming to publication.


Large numbers of national and international visitors come to the School including Professor Keiji Imamura (Tokyo), Professor Xiao Yanyi (Palace Museum, Beijing), Professor Erszebet Jerem (Budapest), Professor Norman Yoffee (Michigan) and Professor Paul Zanker (Pisa). We estimate that some 50 distinguished visitors have stayed in Oxford and contributed to seminars or discussion groups over the RAE period.


As a service to international scholarship, members of the School edit five international journals and other periodicals – Oxford Journal of Archaeology, Archaeometry (both rated A in the European Reference Index for the Humanities), The Archaeological Computing Newsletter, Anglo-Saxon Studies in Archaeology and History and The Oxford Journal of the History of Collections. The School also publishes a Monograph Series (15 volumes published in the review period) dedicated to the dissemination of archaeological research at Oxford, both of staff members and graduate students.



Staffing Policy


Oxford maintains permanent posts in key areas of archaeological research either within the Institute or the Research Laboratory or attached to the major museums and their associated research centres. There has been a considerable turn-over of staff since RAE2001. Having a considerable number of new staff has brought new energy, and has also allowed us to create a more cohesive group and explore novel research directions. The School has four established chairs and five more conferred through a rigorous distinction exercise requiring external reviewers and international referees. The established posts within UOA 33 include Palaeolithic archaeology, European prehistoric (4), World archaeology, African prehistory, Greek (3), Roman (2), Byzantine, European Medieval, archaeological science (2), environmental archaeology and computing and statistical methods. In addition there are three joint curator/lecturer posts covering Roman, Classical/Byzantine and European Medieval archaeology. One further curator/lecturer works jointly in the Pitt Rivers Museum and the School investigating the setting up of the modern post-Columbian world. In addition, the School maintains a substantial number of permanent or long-term posts supported by external funding. In the Institute and Ashmolean there are eight (including four post doctoral) concerned with the Beazley Archive (5), the Celtic Coin Index (1), and the Corpus of Arretine Pottery (1). In archaeological science there are seven (five post-doctoral) connected with long-term research projects including dating, archaeomaterials, palaeodietary studies and environmental archaeology. We are trying to convert some of these posts to permanent lectureships; others we see as important stepping stones for younger researchers. In addition there are currently seven researchers working on AHRC, NERC and Leverhulme-funded research projects, with two more to be appointed by October 2007. Another important contribution to the vitality of archaeology in Oxford is the Junior Research Fellowship schemes run by the colleges, around 6 of which are specifically for archaeology. All these staff are members of the Sub-Faculty of Archaeology, which reports directly to the School Committee and which provides a forum for discussion and raising any issues.


All major post holders are members of the School and sit on the School Committee, which debates and helps steer future research directions, amongst other things. The School Committee decides how to fill posts as they come up and what are the key attributes needed by post holders. The Research and Publications sub-Committee is particularly charged with discussing research and making recommendations on new initiatives, as well as areas in which we should reduce our research effort. The School attempts to aid staff in balancing teaching and research, helping to ensure that research time is preserved as much as possible. All academic staff are entitled to sabbatical leave (one term for every six worked), but staff members have to apply to the School for leave stating the intended research and specifying the outputs, and to fully report on the results.


Leadership, guidance and support is available, particularly for early career researchers, from the established chairs, but a characteristic of such researchers within the School is that they are highly motivated and often already internationally respected within their own fields. To ensure support is delivered where needed, the School has a mentoring system for new staff, with each person having an academic mentor with whom they meet at least once a term to discuss the balance between teaching and research, the possible priorities for research and publication and the best strategy for gaining grants. New members of staff undergo a five-year probationary period during which their progress is commented on by their mentor, the Head of Department and members of the Division. The aim of such reviews is to aid staff development and provide support. This system is in place for all new staff, but is particularly seriously pursued in the case of early career researchers who would most appreciate help in developing and bringing to fruition their plans for research. All staff are encouraged to seek advice from the senior members in the School if and when they feel the need.



Review of Achievements since RAE 2001


In RAE 2001 we flagged the history of materials, the evolution of landscapes and urban forms and the long-term history of environmental change and diet as key research directions for future work in the School. These have indeed been at the core of our research work. There have been some changes in emphasis due to staff movements, and new directions are being pursued, trying to bring together humanist and scientific approaches, to reflect the growing synergy of the various components of the School.


In both classical and prehistoric archaeology much of our research has centred around large field projects, many concerning the later prehistoric and Roman periods. The major projects discussed here were all part of the RAE 2001 submission and have been brought to publication in a variety of ways. Some projects have explored the evolution of a landscape across key periods of transition, so that the Danebury Environs Project (Cunliffe – who has also undertaken work in Le Yaudet, Britanny and Najerilla, Spain) and the Hillforts of the Ridgeway project (Gosden and Lock) have looked at the interactions between a series of sites from the late Bronze Age to Romano-British periods using a combination of geophysics and excavation combined within a GIS environment. The work in the Greco-Roman city of Aphrodisias in Turkey, has focused on the use of status markers in the city as part of a deeply embedded political discourse (Smith). The post-Roman period in western Europe has also been the subject of a broader settlement pattern analysis, looking at how new social forms came into being in rural Europe (Hamerow). There has also been an important focus on cityscapes and their influence on broader patterns of sociability and power. A long-term project investigating Ostia has uncovered the overall layout of the city and the major changes it underwent during the Roman Empire (Delaine). This study has been complemented by one in the centre of the city of Rome, looking at the Forum Romanum (Wilson) but also the broader nature of building in Rome (Steinby).
The nature of public architecture, statuary and other forms of public display have been the subject of a major study in Aphrodisias, but also utilising museum collections. The links between the built environment, feasting and power has been the focus of work at Pylos and Knossos (Bendall). Within the Roman period excavations at Pompeii have revealed evidence on food plants and food consumption (M. Robinson). The origins of built forms important in the later history of the Mediterranean has been an element of the work at Lefkandi, which has also seen a major emphasis on the trade of materials and influences between the Middle East and the Aegean (Lemos). Trade, exchange and consumption are important themes elsewhere, notably at the Greek site of Eusperides, which shows that pottery (both fine and coarse wares) were obtained from a very wide range of sources (Wilson). The Pichnvari project in Georgia has demonstrated links across the Black Sea and into Asia (Vickers). The project at Andarin (Androna) in Syria examines the nature and means of the early Byzantine expansion of this site, at the every end of Roman domination of the Levant (Mango). Studies of Byzantine elite materials have greatly extended the chronological range of the analysis of material culture (Mango), further complemented by attempts to understand material culture from various areas of the Roman Empire (Walker) and the Anglo-Saxon periods (MacGregor). In these cases, material held in museums in Oxford and elsewhere formed the basis for analyses. In many of these studies a combination of textual and archaeological evidence was crucial and McGregor has put considerable effort into making archives from the Ashmolean available which are key to the history of archaeology.


A further important development has been the creation of the Centre for Maritime Archaeology, with the help of private funding. This is aimed to carry out fieldwork in a now-submerged city near Alexandria, using the latest techniques of underwater survey and recording and also to support publication of prior fieldwork. Support has been provided for two research staff to run the Centre and for three D. Phil. students.


Looking at earlier periods, an important new initiative started in Morocco with the arrival of Barton which involves the investigation of sites spanning the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic periods. This has already produced major new information on the early emergence of modern human behaviour and is currently examining the relationship of cultural change to abrupt climatic transitions in that part of Africa. The dating and environmental context of these sites are central to their understanding, with work by Blockley and others being key. PADMAC (a multi-disciplinary geoarchaeology unit), led by Scott-Jackson, has discovered the first Middle Palaeolithic sites in the United Arab Emirates - important evidence for the ‘out of Africa’ route through the southern Arabian Peninsula. In Lesotho, Mitchell has explored sites ranging across the Holocene, which have thrown new light on the relationships between hunter-gatherers and farmers, among other topics. In the Pacific, colonial relations have been explored using a combination of museum collections and fieldwork in Papua New Guinea (Gosden). Schulting has a Leverhulme-funded project investigating the skeletal evidence for interpersonal violence in Neolithic Europe and its impact on society.


In a number of instances, specific pieces of fieldwork have led to broader synthetic works on the nature of Atlantic Europe (Cunliffe), or archaeology’s contribution to the understanding of the relations between Africa and other parts of the world (Mitchell). Publication of results in monograph form, either as site reports or broader synthetic works, has been basic to our dissemination strategy, with more specific studies published through journal articles. An increasingly important element of publication is putting basic data on the web to provide wide access so that others can evaluate and rework our material. Here a number of electronic databases have been created and curated through the School, including the corpus of Gallo-Belgic pottery, the Celtic Coin Index (now in collaboration with the Portable Antiquity Scheme and the British Museum), the Beazley Archive and the Corpus of Arretine pottery. Further such databases are being constructed, notably one on British Celtic art funded by the AHRC.


In RLAHA science-based archaeology research is primarily laboratory-focused, although many staff are involved in international fieldwork programs. In radiocarbon, technique development has been focused on improving calibration (Oxford was part of the Intcal2004 programme). The Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit provides a national dating service for archaeology (ORADS), supported by a contract for 290 dates per year from NERC and AHRC. A proposal for a single UK radiocarbon facility (having two nodes, one in Oxford and one in East Kilbride, and led for the first 3 years by Pollard) was recently approved by NERC and funded for the next five years. Radiocarbon dating procedures are constantly being refined, such as the implementation of ABOX pre-treatments for charcoal, improved collagen sample filtration, both giving more reliable dates in the Upper Palaeolithic (Higham, Brock, Ditchfield), and on further improving methods of dating degraded bone (Brock). In terms of archaeological applications, our efforts are currently focussed on re-dating major sites in the European Palaeolithic (using ultrafiltration developed in Oxford). Higham and Ramsey obtained Leverhulme funding to investigate the possible reservoir effect of the Nile on radiocarbon dates, to explain apparent discrepancies between the radiocarbon timescale and the Egyptian calendar. Also of considerable importance is a new version of the Oxcal software package (v.4.0) released in 2007, developed by Ramsey with support from English Heritage, for calibrating, interpreting and combining dates (not just radiocarbon), which incorporates various Bayesian algorithms for improving the error estimates.


A new tephrochronology laboratory has been established with start-up funds for Pollard, and was supported by the award of an RCUK Fellowship in 2005 (Blockley). We have devised new techniques for extracting such microtephra, and are investigating alternative approaches to characterizing this material with Earth Sciences. In collaboration with RHUL (Lowe, Gamble), NHM (Stringer) and NOC Southampton (Rohling), RLAHA (Pollard, Blockley) and the Institute (Barton) have just been awarded a NERC Consortium grant of £3.4M over 5 years named RESET (Response of Humans to Abrupt Environmental Transitions) to develop tephrochronology as a novel approach for assessing how humans may have responded to rapid environmental changes in the past.


Biomolecular archaeology continues to be focussed on the isotopic chemistry of human bone, looking mainly at diet, but also human movement and demography. Hedges’ work is central here in both developing techniques, but also empirical work on changes in nutrition from the start of the Neolithic onwards. Schulting’s complementary interests extend this into the Mesolithic. There is a growing emphasis on investigating new systems (e.g. δD) or using compound specific methods to better resolve the difference between inputs from terrestrial (C3), freshwater and marine systems. Hedges has been successful in obtaining funding for novel developments in palaeodietary research, including a Fell Fund award for an HPLC-MS for compound-specific amino acids (£140k), plus a NERC award (with Earth Sciences) to study the use of calcium isotopes in diet. The previous focus on glass and glaze technology in RLAHA has shifted to take into account a more holistic view of the role of materials science in archaeology (Pollard and Gosden). This is expressed, for example, through work on the adoption of bronze technology in the Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age.



Research Strategy and Future Plans


Oxford will continue to pursue research within the broad areas of prehistoric, classical and historical archaeology, and scientific archaeology, on a global scale. The agenda, however, is not predetermined by structures and committees – rather, as described above, it is developed within a fluid set of connections building upon the strength and diversity of archaeology and cognate disciplines in Oxford. Nor is it mechanistically tied to a series of targets – the prime criterion is excellence, however that is defined across the discipline. One specific strategic objective, however, is to develop further the interconnectedness between the different aspects of the School, and this will be achieved by the targeting of internal resources, as well as support for external bids for funding. Our priority is to foster research which addresses issues of international importance to the discipline as a whole, as well as the academic community more broadly, for instance climate change and human involvements, human relations with the material world in the past and present including issues of both economics and aesthetics, the nature of humanness and our palaeolithic heritage. These ‘big questions’, as well as connecting the various aspects of the School, also inherently require collaboration with cognate disciplines both within Oxford and worldwide.


The School has undergone a considerable turn-over of staff during the assessment period, but continuity is provided by the large ongoing field and laboratory projects. We will continue to support and develop large-scale excavation projects on all periods from the Palaeolithic to the post-Medieval, with excavations in Morocco, Libya, Turkey, Italy and Britain amongst other places. In addition, a number of new developments are forecast, some of which emerge from broader theoretical interests within the School. These include approaches to materials analysis which combine scientific and humanistic approaches, such as where the constraints and possibilities offered by new materials interact with the demands of style. We are also pursuing possibilities of further work in Asia, specifically China, Japan and India, which are key regions in their own right, but also allow comparisons to be made between state formation in Asia and those in Europe and the Middle East. We hope to establish Lecturerships in both Chinese and Japanese Archaeology from external funding in the near future.


We will also develop our understanding of the links between diet and environment especially in periods of transition. Thus, new post-holders Schulting and Bogaard, in collaboration with Hedges, Robinson, Pollard and others, will develop the isotopic analysis of human bone and of plant remains to look at changes from the Mesolithic to the Bronze Age in Europe, and Turkey. We also want to develop more expertise in the archaeology of the modern world and have appointed Hicks to direct research programmes in this area, drawing further on the collections of the Pitt Rivers Museum.


A number of new directions will be developed over the next five years. New collaborative programmes with Oxford Archaeology will explore synergies between commercial and academic archaeology. In particular we want to digitise and make available the mass of excavation records from British archaeology. Oxford Archaeology and the School have already undertaken a joint fieldwork project, at Sutton Courtenay in 2002, where part of a high-status Anglo-Saxon settlement was investigated. We have one joint research programme under way and two under consideration. Current excavation and survey work at Dorchester-on-Thames looks at the transitions from the Iron Age into the Roman period and from the Roman to the early Medieval period. Projects under consideration involve a study of the history of disease, trauma and medicine around the time of Nelson’s navy, and a proposed comprehensive geophysical survey of the land in medieval Oxford owned by the University and Colleges.


The origins of urban life in the Aegean, as well as links with the Middle East, will continue to be the subject of investigation through excavation and analysis. For the Roman period in both Italy and Anatolia the links between images, urban form and power structures will be a continuing focus of investigation in the field and drawing on museum collections, including the Ashmolean. The links between textual evidence and archaeology in illuminating the nature of feasting practice in Bronze Age Crete or Medieval settlement patterns in northwestern Europe will remain a focus. The School is exploring greater links with the Ashmolean in this area with the possibility of an extra post in later Medieval archaeology.


Research in RLAHA will continue to have a strong focus on chronology, driven primarily by the radiocarbon lab and the new RESET NERC programme (funded for 5 years). Research in archaeological materials will be given shape by a proposed new publication programme from Gosden and Pollard to commission and edit a series of volumes on the social history of technology on a world-wide basis (OUP), running for 10 years. Not only will this provide a coherent publication strategy, but it will also initiate a series of specific research programmes to increase understanding of the technology and social context of material culture. The first such proposal is already submitted, in which a consortium has been assembled (including Pigmentum, an independent research group focusing on technical art history associated with the School, and the universities of Cranfield (Shortland) and Westminster (Wood)) to study the old world history of the use of cobalt blue as a pigment from earliest times to the 19th century.


We feel confident that we have a series of strategies in place to promote and develop new research directions which make best use of the range of facilities and expertise available within the School, managed within a loose framework which capitalises on the intellectual framework found in Oxford. We are excited about future directions and new sets of possibilities that new staff and linkages will make possible, which will allow us to tackle a series of key intellectual questions on the nature of human beings past and present.



Indicators of Esteem


School Members participate actively in the academic community nationally and internationally. One pleasing aspect is the number of more junior staff who are being both recognised and involved in the community at large. This includes for instance the election of Bendall to the council of the British School in Athens, the award to Bogaard of a large NERC grant and the fact that Higham gave a keynote address to a  conference in Mexico. We are committed to support early career researchers so that this trend will continue.


Members of the School sat on over 35 committees of learned societies, institutes and funding bodies in Austria, Britain, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Spain and the US. This includes a Trustee of the British Museum, a Commissioner of English Heritage, a Member of the Committee for the Humanities Institute of Ireland, the President of the Society of African Archaeologists, Chair of English Heritage’s Research Committee and the Secretary of the Society for Libyan Studies. Members also served on the editorial boards of over twenty journals and monograph series including World Archaeology, Antiquity, Journal of Archaeological Science, Radiocarbon, in addition to the journals edited in Oxford.


A large number of invited and keynote lectures were given in Britain, other European countries, Japan, Canada, and the US. These include Cunliffe’s delivery of the Rhind Lectures and the Dalrymple Lectures, Gosden acting as an invited organiser of the Wenner-Gren Symposium in Portugal, Wilson’s address to the Academie Francaise, and Pollard as invited organiser of a session at the European Geophysical Union conference in Vienna. A large number of honours have been bestowed, including the award to Cunliffe of a knighthood, the Society of Antiquaries Gold Medal and the British Academy’s Graham Clark medal. Gosden was elected a Fellow of the British Academy and McGregor a Fellow of the Linnean Society. Five members of the School have been elected to be Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries since 2001, making 11 in total. A number are also Corresponding members of foreign academies including France, Germany, Ireland and Spain. The award of research fellowships and prizes includes Hamerow’s receipt of a British Academy Senior Research Fellowship, Smith’s award of a British Academy/Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowship, Walker’s award of a Balsdon Senior Fellowship and Wilson’s receipt of the Philip Leverhulme Prize for Archaeology. Members of the School have been awarded a large number of grants, including AHRC, ESRC, Leverhulme Trust and NERC.



i)                    Committee member of 3 Commissions of the UISPP

ii)                   Co-PI, NERC Consortium grant (RESET)

iii)                 Panel Member of the South West Archaeological Research Framework 2004-05

iv)                 Panel member of the Archaeological Research Framework for Wales 2002-04



i)                    Elected to council of British School at Athens 2007



i)                    Co-PI, NERC Consortium grant (RESET)

ii)                   Invited keynote presentation: Netherlands Royal Society of Science Workshop, 2005

iii)                 Invited presentation, Greenland Ice-Core Carlsberg conference, Danish National Research Foundation, 2006

iv)                 Invited presentation, UISPP, Lisbon, 2006



i)                    Co-PI on a NSF (US) grant with Stony Brook University

ii)                   PI, NERC grant (2007-2010)

iii)                 AHRB research leave, spring semester 2005

iv)                 Elected committee member, Association for Environmental Archaeology, 2006



i)                    Founder and Committee Member of Society for the Study of Childhood in the Past

ii)                   Co-editor Anglo-Saxon Studies in Archaeology and History



i)                    Knighthood

ii)                   Trustee of the British Museum

iii)                 Commissioner of English Heritage

iv)                 The British Academy’s Graham Clark Medal 2005



i)                    Member of Board of Trustees, Roman Research Trust 2006-08

ii)                   Member of Consultative Committee, Molly Cotton Foundation, 2006-08

iii)                 Advisory Board for the American Journal of Archaeology 2005-2010

iv)                 Keynote speaker at Colloquium on Le terme di Caracalla, Austrian Institute in Rome.



i)                    Invited participant in Laetoli project (New York University and National Museums of Tanzania)

ii)                   Invited participant in the Smithsonian Institution Human Origins program

iii)                 Co-investigator on Leverhulme Trust, 2007

iv)                 Reviewer for NSF (USA), Nature, Journal of Human Evolution



i)                    Invited to join international Çatalhöyük project, 2006



i)                    Elected chairman of the Friends of the Copenhagen Cast Collection

ii)                   Carlsberg Foundation Senior Research Fellowship Award, 2006



i)                    Sackler Junior Research Fellow ,Worcester College (2007-2009)

ii)                   Curator of the Bronze Age Greek Collection at the Ashmolean in preparation of the new gallery

iii)                 Mediterranean Archaeological Trust publication grant (2004)



i)                    Elected Fellow of the British Academy 2005

ii)                   Member of the Leverhulme Trust panel for prizes in Anthropology 2004

iii)                 Member of the International Advisory Committee of the Humanities Institute of Ireland 2005-08

iv)                 Member of the British Academy Board for Academy-sponsored Institutes 2004-08



i)                    Member of International Research Group, Trondenes Project, University of Tromsø

ii)                   Member of Expert Panel of EMAP (Early Medieval Archaeology Project, Ireland)

iii)                 Member of Steering Group, ESSENCE (Scottish Centre of Excellence for Northern Cultural Environments)

iv)                 Hon. Treasurer, Society for Medieval Archaeology (2004-)



i)                    British Academy Senior Research Fellowship 2006-07

ii)                   Invited speaker at the Medieval Academy of America (Boston) and Harvard (2006) and University of Siena (2005)

iii)                 Elected to the Coordinating Committee of the International ‘Arbeitsgemeinschaft fur Sachsenforschung’ (2006)

iv)                 PI on AHRC Resource Enhancement grant (£113,000) and Co-PI on AHRC Research Grant (£462,000)



i)                    President of Fifth International Meeting on Bone Diagenesis (Cape Town, 2005)

ii)                   Invited lectures to Weizmann Institute, Israel, University of Vienna, Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, in 2006

iii)                 Invited organiser of symposium on “Constructing Quaternary Chronologies” for Quaternary Research Association (2002)

iv)                 Invited to open International Radiocarbon Conference (2006)



i)                    Council Member of Society of Post Medieval Archaeology 2003-06

ii)                   Member of the Institute of Field Archaeologists (2004)

iii)                 Member of Grants Committee of World Archaeological Congress 2006-

iv)                 General Editor of British Archaeological Reports series Studies in Historical and Contemporary Archaeology



i)                    Co-organiser of International Radiocarbon Conference, Oxford 2006

ii)                   Invited Keynote speaker at Early Man in the Americas Symposium, Museo del Anthropologia, Mexico, 2006

iii)                 Best Scholarly Book on Archaeology 2007 (Biblical Archaeology Society Publishing Award) for The Bible and Radiocarbon Dating

iv)                 PI NERC Grant (£321,175)



i)                    Wainwright Fellow, University of Oxford (2006-9)

ii)                   Organiser and host, POCA (Postgraduates in Cypriot Archaeology) 2004, with Society for Hellenic Studies

iii)                 Organised session at TAG 2005, Lampeter



i)                    Denis Hayes Memorial Lecture, February 2006

ii)                   Annual Open Lecture of British School at Athens, 2004

iii)                 Severis Lecture, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge 2002

iv)                 Elected Member of the Council of the British School at Athens (2003–2007)



i)                    Member of the AHRC Peer Review College

ii)                   Keynote speaker at summer school on Computers and Archaeology, Kanpur, 2006

iii)                 AHRC research grant £340,000

iv)                 Standing Committee of Archaeologists in Continuing Education (SCACE) representative on the Archaeology Training Forum (ATF) national committee



i)                    Elected Fellow of the Linnean Society 2005

ii)                   Elected Vice-President of the Royal Archaeological Institute 2005

iii)                 Elected to Council of the Society for the History of Natural History 2002

iv)                 Appointed member of the Treasure Valuation Committee 2001



i)                    Elected Corresponding Member, German Archaeological Institute, 2003

ii)                   Invited by the Directorate General of Antiquities to give public lecture in Damascus, 2005

iii)                 Invited by Council of British Research in the Levant to give AGM lecture, 2007

iv)                 invited to give opening lecture at annual North American Byzantine Studies Conference, 2007



i)                    President of Society of Africanist Archaeologists 2004-06

ii)                   Member of the Governing Council and Honorary Secretary of British Institute in Eastern Africa 2006-present

iii)                 Fellow of Society of Antiquaries 2005

iv)                 Invited speaker WAC Inter-Congress, Osaka, 2006



i)                    Member, History Committee, Historical Metallurgy Society, UK, 1998-

ii)                   Applications reviewer for Daresbury Synchrotron Radiation Source.



i)                    Special Leverhulme Research Fellowship, 2002-2005

ii)                   I.F. Kostopoulos Foundation award for development of documentary project

iii)                 Award from Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies for publication of images, 2003



i)                    British School at Rome, Rome Award 2004

ii)                   British Academy Post-doctoral Fellowship: 2001- 2004

iii)                 American School at Athens, Research Associateship 2001- 2003



i)                    Chair, English Heritage Research Committee (2006-)

ii)                   Chair of NERC Science-based Archaeology Strategy Group (1999-2005)

iii)                 Invited keynote speaker, ‘Archaeological Sciences in the Americas’, University of Tucson, 2004

iv)                 External Assessor, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) Excellence Initiative ‘Ancient Cultures’ Panel (2006/7)



i)                    Member of the International Committee for Radiocarbon Calibration (IntCal)

ii)                   Editorial Boards, Radiocarbon and Quaternary Geochronology

iii)                 Organiser of International Radiocarbon Conference, Oxford 2006

iv)                 Invited lectures at Universities of Sevillia, Cantabria and Vienna


Robinson (D)

i)                    Invited by Italian authorities to present paper at conference on ‘New Research in Pompeii’, 2007

ii)                   Invited to present at TRAC (Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference), Cambridge, 2005


Robinson (M)

i)                    Invited to carry out fieldwork by Herculaneum Conservation Project (World Heritage Site)



i)                    PI on Leverhulme grant

ii)                   Invited speaker at conferences in Germany (2006), France (2002, 2004), and Ireland (2002)



i)                    Invited to Buckingham Palace as a representative of British scientific community 2006



i)                    Member of the Institute of Field Archaeology

ii)                   Committee member of the Avebury Archaeological and Historical Research Group



i)                    Invited as Visiting Member of Wissenschafts-Kolleg in Berlin 2007-08

ii)                   Corresponding member of the German Archaeological Institute

iii)                 Member of the Austrian Archaeological Institute

iv)                 British Academy/Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowship 2007-09



i)                    Elected Council Member of the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies (2007)

ii)                   Award from Harvard University for preparation of Archaeological Society of Athens’ publication of excavations at Demetrias and Pharsalos, Thessaly

iii)                 Invited speaker at workshop, Nijmegan (2006), and at AGM of the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies (2006)



i)                    Elected Fellow of Society of Antiquaries (2005)

ii)                   International Society of Saxonists

iii)                 British Archaeological Awards 2004: 'Best Scholarly Publication' Prize for Markets in Early Medieval Europe

iv)                 Leverhulme Research Fellowship, 2002-2005



i)                    AIA Kress Lecturer 2002-03

ii)                   Keynote address at Conference Batumi-Trabzon 2006

iii)                 Keynote address at Summer School, Università degli Studi, Lecca 2001

iv)                 Corresponding Member, German Archaeological Institute



i)                    Balsdon Senior Fellowship, British School at Rome 2006-07

ii)                   Leowy Lecturer, University of Rome La Sapienza 2005

iii)                 Guest Curator and Principal Lecturer, Field Museum, Chicago, 2001-02

iv)                 Keynote speaker at British Ancient Near East Association international conference, Oxford 2005



i)                    Elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries 2006

ii)                   Foreign Corresponding Member of the Société Nationale des Antiquaires de France

iii)                 Honorary Secretary of the Society of Libyan Studies

iv)                 Member of Council – The Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies