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Durham University

Department of Archaeology


Professor Robin Skeates, B.A., D.Phil., F.S.A.

Professor in the Department of Archaeology
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41156
Room number: 206B

Contact Professor Robin Skeates (email at


My research and publications explore a wide variety of themes within the overlapping inter-disciplinary fields of material, visual and sensual culture studies, and museum and heritage studies.

I was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 2005 in recognition of my long-term work on Central Mediterranean prehistoric archaeology, and am currently writing a book on Prehistoric Italy. In 2019, I was made an Honorary Member of the European Association of Archaeologists, having served as General Editor of the European Journal of Archaeology for 9 years; I was also made a Guest Professor in the School of Archaeology at Jilin University, China, having helped to develop collaboration between Durham University, the Palace Museum in Beijing, and Jilin. I am now Associate Editor of Antiquity.

My book, An Archaeology of the Senses: Prehistoric Malta, has led to keynote lecture invitations at home and abroad, a pioneering AHRC-funded collaboration with philosophers on the aesthetics and ethics of archaeology, and commissioning of the Routledge Handbook of Sensory Archaeology (co-edited with Jo Day).

Another volume, Caves in Context (co-edited with Knut-Andreas Bergsvik), has been complemented by two successive British Academy- and other-funded, collaborative, field-projects on the ritual uses of caves in prehistoric Italy, related publications and television interviews, postgraduate student research, and visiting researchers.

In recent years, I have also participated in collaborative work with a variety of archaeological scientists, including post-docs and PhD students, on human bioarchaeology (aDNA and stable isotope analyses) and archaeometry (physical and chemical analyses of ceramic fabrics and of pigments) applied to Central Mediterranean prehistory, adding to my long-standing commitment to radiocarbon dating in this region.

My impact on public archaeology has been enhanced by my work as an archaeological advisor to the National Trust, my related Durham and NT-funded ‘Archaeological Wows’ research project, an AHRC Newton-Khalidi-funded museum modernization project in Jordan (Co-I Shatha Abu-Khafajah), associated publications such as my edited volumes, the Oxford Handbook of Public Archaeology and Museums and Archaeology, and postgraduate student research.

I welcome expressions of interest from prospective new post-docs and PhD students.

Indicators of Esteem

Research Interests

  • Archaeological collecting
  • Archaeological theory
  • Artefact studies
  • Cave archaeology
  • Cultural representation
  • Ethics
  • Heritage studies
  • Material culture studies
  • Museum studies
  • Politics of the past
  • Prehistoric art
  • Prehistory of the central Mediterranean
  • Public archaeology
  • Sensual culture studies
  • Visual culture

Related Links

Teaching Areas

  • Central Mediterranean Prehistory
  • MA Museum & Artefact Studies

Selected Publications

Authored book

Book review

Chapter in book

Edited book

Edited Journal

Journal Article

Working Paper

Show all publications

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Ethics: Archaeological ethics
  • European Prehistory: Mediterranean prehistory - Italy, Malta, etc
  • Art: Visual culture studies
  • Museums: Museum studies

Selected Grants

  • 2010: Journey to the underworld (£8900.00 from Fondazione Banco di Sardegna)
  • 2009: JOURNEYS TO THE UNDERWORLD, The Prehistoric Society, £350.00
  • 2009: Journeys to the Underworld: Ritual Transformations of Persons, Objects and Caves in Neolithic Central Sardinia (£52384.00 from The British Academy)
  • 2006: THE CULTURAL CONSTRUCTION (£2797.00 from The British Academy)
  • 2005: PREHISTORIC PINTADERAS AND VISUAL (£2400.00 from The British Academy)
  • 2004: FDTL5 SAMIAN PROJECT (£31140.00 from Higher Education Funding Council)
  • 2004: VISUAL CULTURE IN PALAEOLITHIC S.E. ITALY (£2100.00 from The British Academy)