Cookies

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Department of Archaeology

Staff

Prof Paul Pettitt, BA(hons), MA, PhD (Cantab), FSA

Professor in the Department of Archaeology
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41169

(email at paul.pettitt@durham.ac.uk)

Background

I am a specialist in the European Middle and Upper Palaeolithic, with research interests in the origins and nature of Palaeolithic art and mortuary activity, chronometry, the behaviour of the Neanderthals and Pleistocene members of our own species, and the British later Palaeolithic. After reading Ancient History and Archaeology at the University of Birmingham (BA 1991) I took an MA in Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London (1992). Subsequently my doctoral research at Cambridge focussed on lithic technology of Middle Palaeolithic Southwest France and what it revealed about Neanderthal behaviour (PhD 1999). I was Senior Archaeologist at the Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, Oxford University (1995-2001) and Research Fellow and Tutor in Archaeology and Anthropology at Keble College, Oxford (1997-2003); Lecturer (2003-7), Senior Lecturer (2007-10) and Reader (2010-12) in Palaeolithic Archaeology at Sheffield University, until I joined Durham in January 2013 as a Professor of Archaeology.

I have researched various aspects of the European Middle and Upper Palaeolithic. I've worked with numerous lithic assemblages, and on the dating of Neanderthal and early modern human remains. In 2003 I co-discovered Britain's only examples of Palaeolithic cave art at Creswell Crags in the Midlands, and since then I've directed excavations at the Crags. I've also co-directed (with Mark White) excavations in the world famous site of Kent's Cavern, and with Mark I co-wrote The British Palaeolithic (2012). In recent years I've been researching aspects of earlier Upper Palaeolithic hand stencils in the caves of France and Spain, and have collaborated on the dating of Spanish cave art, a project which has identified Europe's oldest securely dated examples of figurative and non-figurative cave art. In my book The Palaeolithic Origins of Human Burial (2011) I proposed a long-term model for the evolution of human mortuary activity, and I'm now developing ways in which to further our understanding of early human mortuary activity and ritual in general. I retain an interest in radiocarbon dating within the Palaeolithic, and in the Late Upper Palaeolithic of Britain.

Current research students

Study the Palaeolithic at Durham

I would warmly welcome applications from students wishing to further their knowledge of the Palaeolithic at masters level, and those interested in researching aspects of Middle and Upper Palaeolithic archaeology for the PhD. I am especially keen to supervise projects in the fields of early human mortuary activity, ritual and art. Durham is an exceptionally fertile place to study and research Palaeolithic and Mesolithic archaeology; with Mark White and Peter Rowley-Conwy we have expertise from the Lower Palaeolithic to Mesolithic, and we enjoy fruitful collaboration with various departmental colleagues working with dating methods, DNA and isotope study.

Research Interests

  • Archaeology of the European Middle and Upper Palaeolithic
  • Early evolution of human mortuary activity
  • Middle and Upper Palaeolithic Britain
  • Neanderthal extinction and the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic Transition
  • Palaeolithic art
  • Palaeolithic chronometry

Indicators of Esteem

  • 2011: Contributed to 'Many Hands' exhibition at The Royal Society:
  • 2010: Member of AHRC Peer Review College:
  • 2009: Elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London:
  • 2008: Advisory Editor, Journal of World Prehistory:
  • 2008: Convened English Heritage and Prehistoric Society Working Group on Research and Conservation Framework for the British Palaeolithic:
  • 2002: Advistory Editor, Before Farming:
  • 2000: Council Member, The Prehistoric Society:

Publications

Books: authored

Books: edited

Edited works: contributions

  • Pettitt, P. B. (Published). Cultural context and form of some of the Creswell images: an interpretative model. In Creswell Palaeolithic Cave Art in European Context. Pettitt, P. B., Bahn, P. & Ripoll, S. Oxford University Press. 34-45.
  • Pettitt, P. B. (Published). The European Upper Palaeolithic. In The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Hunter-Gatherers. Cummings, V., Jordan, P. & Zvelebil, M. Oxford university Press.
  • Pettitt, P. B. (2012). Fellow travellers on the ‘great trek’ some thoughts on British MIS3 Neanderthals and spotted hyaenas. In A mind set on flint. Studies in honour of Dick Stapert. Niekus, M. J. L. T., Barton, R. N. E., Street, M. & Terberger, T. Groeningen Archaeological Studies 16. 77-91.
  • Pettitt, P. B., Housley, R. & Higham, T. F. G. (2012). Radiocarbon chronology and faunal turnover in the Upper Pleistocene at Pontnewydd cave. In Aldhouse-Green, S. Walker, E. and Peterson, R. (eds.) Neanderthals in Wales. Pontnewydd and the Elwy Valley Caves. In Neanderthals in Wales. Pontnewydd and the Elwy Valley Caves. Aldhouse-Green, S., Walker, E. & Peterson, R. National Museums and Galleries of Wales.
  • Zvelebil, M., Lillie, M. C., Montgomery, J., Lukes, A., Pettitt, P. B. & Richards, M. P. (2012). The emergence of the LBK: Migration, Memory and Meaning at the transition to agriculture. In Population Dynamics in Prehistory and Early History. New Approaches Using Stable Isotopes and Genetics. Kaiser, E. & Burger, J.Schier, W. de Gruiter.
  • Pettitt, P. B. (2011). The living as symbols, the dead as symbols: problematising the scale and pace of hominin symbolic evolution. In Homo Symbolicus. The Dawn of Language, Imagination and Spirituality. Henshilwood, C. & d'Errico, F. John Benjamins. 141-162.
  • Zvelebil, M., Lukes, A. & Pettitt, P. B. (2010). The emergence of the LBK culture: search for the ancestors. In The Spread of the Neolithic to Central Europe. Groenenborn, D. & Petrasch, J. Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum. 301-26.
  • Pettitt, P. B. (2009). François Bordes. In Great Prehistorians: 150 years of Palaeolithic Research, 1859-2009. Hosfield, R., Wenban-Smith, F. & Pope, M. 201-12.
  • Pettitt, P. B., Bahn, P. & Züchner, C. (2009). The Chauvet conundrum: are claims for the ‘birthplace of art’ premature?. In An Enquiring Mind: Studies in Honor of Alexander Marshack. Bahn, P. Oxbow and Cambridge MA: American School of Prehistoric Research Monograph Series. 239-62.
  • Pettitt, P. B. (2009). The Neanderthals. In The Oxford Handbook of Archaeology. Cunliffe, B., Gosden, C. & Joyce, R. Oxford university Press. 332-70.
  • Pettitt, P. B (2009). The rise of modern humans. In The Human Past. Scarre, C. Thames and Hudson. 124-73.
  • Pettitt, P. B. (2008). The British Upper Palaeolithic. In Prehistoric Britain. Pollard, J. Blackwell. 18-57.
  • Pettitt, P. B. (2007). Cultural context and form of some of the Creswell images: an interpretative model. In Creswell Palaeolithic Cave Art in European Context. Pettitt, P. B., Bahn, P. & Ripoll, S. Oxford University Press. 112-39.
  • Pettitt, P. B. (2007). Radiocarbon dating. In Maschner, H. & Chippindale, C. Altamira. 309-36.
  • Pettitt, P. B. & Bahn, P. (2007). Rock art and art mobilier of the British Upper Palaeolithic. In Art as Metaphor: the Prehistoric Rock Art of Britain. Mazel, A., Nash, G. & Waddington, C. Archaeopress. 9-38.
  • Pettitt, P. B. (2007). The living dead and the dead living: burials, figurines and social performance in the European Mid Upper Palaeolithic. In The Social Archaeology of Funerary Remains. Knüsel, C. & Gowland, R. OxBow. 292-308.
  • Ashley, S., Bending, J., Cook, G., Corrado, A., Malone, C., Pettitt, P. B., Puglisi, D., Redhouse, D. & Stoddart, S. (2007). The resources of an upland community in the fourth millennium BC. In Upland Landscapes of Sicily. Fitzjohn, M. London University Accordia Research Centre. 59-80.
  • Pike, A. W. G., Gilmore, M. & Pettitt, P. B. (2007). Verification of the age of the Palaeolithic cave art at Creswell Crags. In Creswell Palaeolithic Cave Art in European Context. Pettitt, P. B., Bahn, P. & Ripoll, S. Oxford University Press. 34-45.
  • Pike, A. W. G. & Pettitt, P. B. (2005). Other dating methods. In Handbook of Archaeological Method and Theory. Maschner, H. & Chippindale, C. Altamira. 337-72.
  • Pettitt, P. B. (2004). Ideas in relative and absolute dating. In Renfrew, C. & Bahn, P. Routledge. 58-64.

Journal papers: academic

  • White, M. J. & Pettitt, P. B. (2012). Ancient digs and modern myths. The context and age of the Kent’s Cavern 4 maxilla and the spread of Homo sapiens in Europe. European Journal of Archaeology 15: 1-30.
  • Dodge, D. A., Bouwman, A. S., Pettitt, P. B. & Brown, T. (2012). Mitochondrial DNA haplotypes of Devensian hyaenas from Creswell Crags, England. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences
  • Pettitt, P. B., Rockman, M. & Chenery, S. (2012). The British Final Magdalenian: Society, settlement and raw material movements revealed through LA-ICP-MS trace element analysis of diagnostic artefacts. Quaternary International 272-273: 275-287.
  • Pike, A. W. G., Hoffman, D. L., García-Diez, M., Pettitt, P. B., Alcolea, J., De Balbín, R. González-Sainz, C., de las Heras, C., Lasheras, J. A., Montez, R. & Zilhão, J. (2012). Uranium-series dating of Upper Palaeolithic art in Spanish caves. U-Series Dating of Paleolithic Art in 11 Caves in Spain. Science 336(6087): 1409-1413.
  • Pettitt, P. B. & White, M. J. (2011). Cave men: stone tools, Victorian science, and the ‘primitive mind’ of deep time. Notes and Records of the Royal Society 65(1): 25-42.
  • Pettitt, P. B. (2011). Comment on Golovanova et al. Ecological factors in the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition. Current Anthropology 51: 683-4.
  • White, M. J. & Pettitt, P. B. (2011). Neanderthals in Western Doggerland: towards an interpretative understanding of the Late Middle Palaeolithic Settlement of Britain. Journal of World Prehistory 24: 25-97.
  • Pettitt, P. B., Jacobi, R. M., Chamberlain, A. C., Schreve, D., Wall, I., Dinnis, R. & Wragg-Sykes, R. (2009). Excavations outside Church Hole, Creswell Crags: the first three seasons (2006-8). Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire 113: 35-53.
  • Zvelebil, M., Pettitt, P. B. & Lukes, A. (2009). Lives, loves and deaths of Neolithic farmers: bioarchaeology of burials from Vedrovice (Czech Republic) and the spread of agriculture in Europe. North Atlantic Archaeology 1: 103-115.
  • White, M. J. & Pettitt, P. B. (2009). The demonstration of human antiquity: three rediscovered illustrations from the 1825 and 1846 excavations in Kent’s Cavern (Torquay, England). Antiquity 83: 758-68.
  • Hall, M. & Pettitt, P. B. (2008). A pair of Merrels boards on a stone block from Church Hole cave, Creswell Crags, Nottinghamshire, England. Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire 112.
  • Pettitt, P. B. (2008). Art and the Middle-to-Upper Palaeolithic transition in Europe: comments on the archaeological arguments for an Early Upper Palaeolithic antiquity of the Grotte Chauvet art. Journal of Human Evolution 55(5): 908-917.
  • Zvelebil, M. & Pettitt, P. B. (2008). Biological and cultural identity of the first farmers: introduction to the Vedrovice bioarchaeology project. Anthropologie: International Journal of the Science of Man 46(2-3): 117-124.
  • Zvelebil, M. & Pettitt, P. B. (2008). Human condition, life, and death at an Early Neolithic settlement: bioarchaeological analyses of the Vedrovice cemetery and their biosocial implications for the spread of agriculture in Central Europe. Anthropologie (Brno) XLVI: 195-218.
  • Pettitt, P. B. & Pike, A. W. G. (2007). Dating European Palaeolithic cave art: progress, prospects, problems. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 14: 27-47.
  • Pestle, W., Colvard, M. & Pettitt, P. B. (2006). AMS dating of a recently discovered juvenile human mandible from Solutré (Saône-et-Loire), France). Paleo 18: 285-92.
  • Zvelebil, M. & Pettitt, P. B. (2006). Contribution of Palaeolithic and Neolithic Y-chromosome lineages to the modern Czech population. Archeologicke Rozhledy LVIII: 250-60.
  • Pettitt, P. B. (2006). Homo neanderthalensis (guest editorial). Before Farming 2006/4: 1-3.
  • Zilhão, J. & Pettitt, P. B. (2006). On the new dates for Gorham’s Cave and the late survival of Iberian Neanderthals. Before Farming 2006/4: 1-9.
  • Gamble, C., Davies, W., Pettitt, P. B., Hazelwood, L. & Richards, M. (2006). The Late Glacial ancestry of Europeans: combining genetic and archaeological evidence. Documenta Praehistorica XXXIII: 1-10.
  • Pike, A. W. G., Gilmore, M., Pettitt, P. B., Jacobi, R. M., Ripoll, S., Bahn, P. & Muñoz, F. (2005). Independent U-Series verification of the Pleistocene antiquity of the Palaeolithic cave art at Creswell Crags, UK. Journal of Archaeological Science 32: 1649-55.
  • Richards, M., Jacobi, R. M., Cook, J., Pettitt, P. B. & Stringer, C. (2005). Isotope evidence for the intensive use of marine foods by Late Upper Palaeolithic humans. Journal of Human Evolution 49: 390-94.
  • Pettitt, P. B. & Nyskanen, M. (2005). Neanderthals in Finland during the Last Interglacial? Fennoscandia Archaeologica XXII: 79-87.
  • Nielsen-Marsh, C. M., Richards, M. P., Haushka, P. V., Thomas-Oates, J. E., Trinkaus, E., Pettitt, P. B., Karavanic, I., Poinar, H. & Collins, M. (2005). Osteocalcin protein sequences of Neanderthals and modern primates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (USA) 102: 4409-13.
  • Formicola, V., Pettitt, P. B., Maggi, R. & Hedges, R. E. M. (2005). Tempo and mode of formation of the Late Epigravettian necropolis of Arene Candide Cave (Italy): evidence from the direct radiocarbon dates of the skeletons. Journal of Archaeological Science 32: 1598-1602.
  • Gamble, C. S., Davies, S. W. G., Pettitt, P. B., Richards, M. & Hazelwood, L. (2005). The archaeological and genetic foundations of the European population during the Lateglacial: implications for ‘agricultural thinking’. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 15: 193-230.
  • Formicola, V., Pettitt, P. B. & del Luccese, A. (2004). A direct AMS radiocarbon date on the Barma Grande 6 Upper Palaolithic skeleton. Current Anthropology 45: 114-8.
  • Gamble, C. S., Davies, S. W. G., Pettitt, P. B. & Richards, M. (2004). Climate change and evolving human diversity in Europe during the Last Glacial. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London series B 359: 243-54.
  • Pettitt, P. B. & Bahn, P. (2003). Current problems in dating Palaeolithic cave art: Candamo and Chauvet. Antiquity 77: 134-41.
  • Bahn, P., Pettitt, P. B. & Ripoll, S. (2003). Discovery of Palaeolithic cave art in Britain. Antiquity 77: 227-31.
  • Pettitt, P. B., Davies, S. W. G., Gamble, C. S. & Richards, M. (2003). Palaeolithic radiocarbon chronology: quantifying our confidence beyond two half-lives. Journal of Archaeological Science 30: 1685-93.
  • Pettitt, P. B., Formicola, V., Richards, M. P. & Maggi, R. (2003). The Gravettian burial known as ‘The Prince’ (‘Il Principe’): new evidence for his age and diet. Antiquity 77: 15-19.