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Durham University

Department of Archaeology

All Research Projects

Dr Andrew R Millard, B.A., D.Phil.

Personal web page

Associate Professor in the Department of Archaeology
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41147
Room number: 231
Department Representative, Durham Research Methods Centre

Contact Dr Andrew R Millard (email at

I am an archaeological scientist with broad interests in the applications of chemistry and quantitative methods in archaeology. By using isotope analysis of bones and teeth, I examine diet, migration, and exposure to lead pollution in past populations around the world. I have also worked extensively on bone diagenesis, the microscopic and chemical changes to buried bone. I apply Bayesian statistical analysis of dating information to answer questions about chronologies in eras from the Lower Palaeolithic to the Seventeenth Century. I also apply mathematical and statistical models to interpret isotope analyses and to evaluate palaeodemographic information. A key aspect of all my work is to integrate the science with the archaeological context and questions.

I’ve supervised research students in all these areas and I welcome enquiries from potential PhD students in any of them, or in related topics.


My first degree was in chemistry at Oxford, but whilst studying for that I discovered the delights of archaeology, going digging at weekends. I managed to combine these interests when I found a place for my undergraduate project and doctoral work in the Research Laboratory for Archaeology at Oxford. My D.Phil. explored the uptake of uranium into bone in order to improve the basis of uranium-series dating of bone, and a post-doctoral project explored wider issues of the effect of groundwater hydrology on the decay and preservation of bones.

In 1995 I came to Durham a Lecturer, where my research has broadened to cover the chemistry of bones and teeth applied to archaeological problems, and Bayesian statistics applied to archaeology, particularly to the analysis of scientific dating techniques, and with wider applications in Quaternary science. My research is a mixture of work conducted alone and collaborative projects with a range of scholars within Durham (I have collaborated with colleagues in Archaeology, History, Earth Sciences, Geography and Mathematics) and external to Durham (including Leiden, Groningen, Cambridge, Sheffield, Otago, Peking Universities and the British Geological Survey).

I have been Associate Director (2015-16), and then Director (2016-17) of the Insitute for Medieval and Early Modern Studies. I currently chair the Durham World Heritage Site Research Committee.

As a member and President (2012-18) of the Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland, I promote links between academic archaeology and those interested in the subject across the north-east of England.

Bayesian statistics in archaeology and Quaternary science

Radiocarbon wigglematch calibration

Bayesian statistics, as applied to dating in archaeology, allows the combination of different types of dating methods, substantial improvements in the resolution of dates, and the assigning of dates to events previously considered undateable. My contribution in this area has been to extend the method from its initial application to radiocarbon dates, to application to a wide variety of other dating methods, including uranium-series, luminescence and ESR dating. This has been applied to a major re-evaluation of the dating evidence for hominid fossils in the timeframe 500,000 to 50,000 years ago.

The Bayesian statistical paradigm has a wide range of potential applications in archaeology, which has led me to work on estimating age-at-death of humans and sheep, on predicting the location of archaeological sites in the landscape, and reconstructing the components of diet. I have also been involved in work on mathematical models for changes in nitrogen isotopes with weaning, and the analysis of uncertainty in chronologies constructed from ancient near eastern King Lists. I have co-supervised PhD students working on modelling the Mousterian-Aurignacian transition in Europe using radiocarbon dates, and on estimating the uncertainty in luminescence dates.

Chemistry of archaeological bones and teeth

My bone and tooth chemistry research mixes technique development, theoretical studies, and archaeological application in collaboration with period specialists. Past work has examined age of weaning using nitrogen isotope ratios, developing a mathematical model and examining its application to a 19th century population from London. Past projects have examined migration into and around Britain using strontium and oxygen isotope ratios measured in Anglo-Saxon and Viking remains, migration of Crusaders, and diet and migration in the Dutch middle Neolithic. Recent and current work is examining the transition to agriculture in the northern Atacama Desert in Chile, the transition to pastoralism in semi-arid areas of the Near East and movement in the Bronze Age of northern Italy. PhD topics in this area that I have supervised have ranged widely including studies of diet and/or migration in 18th-19th century in England, Christians and Muslims in medieval Spain, the animals hunted by Upper Palaeolithic humans, humans from post-Medieval Riga in Latvia, tuberculosis sufferers in Roman Britain, Bronze Age inhabitants of Tepe Hissar in Iran.

Research Groups

Research Projects

  • Charcoal production in the North Atlantic Islands
  • Early urbanism in prehistoric Europe?: the case of the Tripillia mega-sites
  • Migrations of Crusaders
  • Re-examination of the chronology of Pleistocene hominid sites circa 500,000-50,000 years ago

Research Interests

  • Bayesian statistical methods in archaeology, including dating, isotope analysis and predictive modelling
  • Developing new approaches to Bayesian chronology building for application to any dating methods
  • Statistics in human osteology, including age estimation
  • Chemical and biochemical methods in archaeology
  • Elemental and isotopic analysis of bones and teeth to investigate diet and migration, including weaning
  • Bone diagenesis
  • Chronology of hominid evolution

Selected Publications

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article

Other (Digital/Visual Media)


Show all publications

Related Links

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Europe: History & Archaeology: dating techniques
  • Human biology and development: analysis of bones for diet
  • World perspectives & techniques: applications of chemistry in archaeology
  • World perspectives & techniques: dating techniques
  • World perspectives & techniques: statistics in archaeology
  • Middle Ages & Early Modern History: dating techniques
  • The Earth: Animals: chemical analysis of bones
  • People: Evolution and Biology: dating techniques
  • People: Evolution and Biology: analysis of bones for diet
  • People: Civilisation & land use: archaeological information from soil chemistry
  • Chemistry: applications of chemistry to archaeology
  • Chemistry: analysis of bones for diet
  • Industrial materials: statistics in archaeology

Selected Grants

  • 2015: People and Place in the Kingdom of Northumbria AD 300 - 800 (£275742.00 from Leverhulme Trust)


Scottish Soldiers Project

Cooperating with the Palace Museum in China