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Durham University

Department of Archaeology


Mr Andrew Nicholl, BA (Hons, Anthropology and History), MSc European Archaeology (Edin)

(email at


I have a BA in History and a BA in Anthropology, awarded by the University of Texas at San Antonio, and am a graduate of that school’s Honors College. My Honors dissertation was focused upon my Anthropology degree, and was an attempt to identify some of the cultural and structural forces behind archaeological site looting.

Following my undergraduate career, I attained an MSc from the University of Edinburgh, in European Archaeology, and my dissertation there was a predecessor to my current research: the impact of metallurgical sophistication upon the early urbanisation of Byblos.

Current Research

Tentatively titled Innovation, Technology, and the Urban Form, my current research is investigating the linkages between the spread of ideas, technology, and urban development. My question is whether there is a tipping point in an urban environment’s existence between being a loose conglomeration of dwellings, populations, and buildings, and then becoming something more complex and identifiable as a “city”. My hope is to find a pattern to urban development that is cross cultural and broadly applicable, while still being useful in analysing past urban environments, as well as informing current urban development questions in the modern world.

As this is an extremely broad topic, a great deal of low level research needs to be done before more tangible and concrete questions can be asked. I am hopeful that my academic background in both history and anthropology will help bring different perspectives to the topic.

Other Research Interests

Aside from questions of technology and urbanisation, I remain keenly interested in archaeological looting prevention efforts, and in public education regarding cultural history (and the subsequent complex of political power and valuation).

I am interested in Citizen Science, and am in the beginning stages of designing several projects leveraging the public towards archaeological investigation, modelled after projects such as Galaxy Zoo.

Previous Research

My History capstone thesis was tangentially related to my current research, and was an exploration of the Roman ideation of the City. It was through this research that I discovered how complex simply asking the question of “What is a city” can be.

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