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Department of Archaeology

Research

As a department, we are focused on building upon our worldwide reputation for research excellence. According to the most recent RAE assessment, Durham University Archaeology Department is the best centre for archaeological research in the UK, with ongoing research projects funded by the AHRC, NERC and English Heritage, among others, and with established research partnerships reaching across the globe. Field projects based within our department operate in areas as diverse as Syria, Iceland, France, Egypt and Kuwait.

Our research encompasses Britain, Europe, the North Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Near East, Egypt, South Asia and the Indian Ocean, spanning the Palaeolithic to the post-Medieval period, and covering fields from Archaeological Science to the History of Archaeology.

We have more than 31 full-time academic members of staff (ten Professors, three Readers, ten Senior Lecturers, five Lecturers and three ECR Fellows), 15 postdoctoral researchers and over 100 research postgraduates. Such students are integral to our research community and projects. If you come to Durham in order to gain a research qualification in Archaeology, you will work within an exciting research environment that provides an impressive range of activities guaranteed to stimulate debate and discussion, and to support and strengthen your work.

To aid such projects, our department also houses state-of-the-art facilities for research into bioarchaeology, environmental archaeology, chronometry and the analysis and conservation of archaeological materials.

Research Strengths

In addition to our thematic research groups, the Durham University Department of Archaeology has a substantial wealth of expertise and active interest in the areas identified below. This depth of proficiency is reflected in the number of major publications, current research fellows and postgraduates, research grants awarded, and active research projects and excavations in the field.

The Archaeology Department is particularly strong in the following areas:

European Prehistory

Interests range from megalithic monuments in western Europe to figurines and fragmentation, the development of the earliest biface technologies, and the nature of Mesolithic/Neolithic subsistence change, and the reconfiguration of identities in the late Iron Age.

Near Eastern and Egyptian archaeology

Current interest encompass Egypt, Syria-Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Arabia and the Gulf and South Asia. Chronologically we cover everything from the Neolithic through to the Bronze and Iron Ages, and into the Islamic period.

Arabia

In this case, the interests of our staff cover landscape archaeology, the long-term social and economic development of the region, the Sasanian and Islamic periods, chronology and development and the region's links with Indian Ocean trade.

Roman archaeology

The breadth of our chronological and geographical coverage extends from Archaic Rome to Late Antiquity and from metropolis to frontiers, in areas such as Italy, North Africa, France and Britain.

Medieval European archaeology

Research strengths include: death and burial; religion and belief; monumentality and landscape in early medieval Britain and Europe; early medieval sculpture (CASS); the archaeology of early medieval Wales, western Britain and Ireland; Christianity and the conversion; early medieval to high medieval settlement archaeology, and landscape studies, ceramics and trade in Britain and Spain; the urban archaeology of Britain and its European trading partners; and the archaeology of religious practice c. AD1200 - c. AD1800 and the historiography of Medieval Archaeology; society and monasticism in early medieval Sri Lanka; and settlement, economy and monetisation in early medieval India.

Mediterranean Archaeology

Our research embraces the multicultural diversity of the ancient Mediterranean, from the agricultural communities of the Neolithic in Syria, Egypt, Italy and Malta, to the more complex societies of the Bronze Age, and the pre-Roman and Roman periods in Italy and Egypt, through to the Late Antique, early Islamic and post-medieval periods in Sicily, North Africa and Spain.

Bioarchaeology

There is also a research group dedicated to this topic. Research interests include biomolecular archaeology, zooarchaeology, archaebotany, palaeoecology, and palaeopathology.

Museums, Culture and Heritage

Our department is a major centre for research into the fields of museums, culture and heritage. A number of staff engaged in research in this area have been employed by renowned institutions, such as the Ashmolean and the British Museum, and have collaborated with The National Trust. We are the only department to count two Fellows of the International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works among its academic staff, one of whom is Dr. Chris Caple – the only trained field archaeologist and conservator in the world.