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Department of Archaeology

Staff

Prof Chris Scarre, MA PhD FSA

Professor in the Department of Archaeology

Contact Prof Chris Scarre (email at chris.scarre@durham.ac.uk)

Biography

Chris Scarre is a specialist in the prehistory of western Europe, with a particular interest in the archaeology of the Atlantic façade (Portugal, France, Britain & Ireland). He took his MA and PhD at Cambridge, the latter a study of landscape change and archaeological sites in western France. From 1990-2005 he was Assistant (later Deputy) Director of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge. In January 2006 he took up the position of Professor of Prehistory at the Department of Archaeology at Durham. Since January 2013 he has been Editor of the leading international journal "Antiquity".

Chris has wide interests within archaeology and is editor of the leading textbook on world prehistory "The Human Past" (London: Thames & Hudson, 3rd. ed. 2013). He is author with Brian Fagan of the textbook "Ancient Civilizations" (revised fourth edition currently in preparation).

Chris has participated in fieldwork projects in Britain, France and Greece and has directed excavations at Neolithic settlement and mortuary sites in Portugal and western France. From 1995-2004 he directed (together with French colleagues) a major excavation of the Neolithic long cairn at Prissé-la-Charrière in western France, but in 2001 he took time out from his European research to study the 17th century burial monuments to British traders at Surat in western India. He subsequently (2006-8) directed a study of landscape, visibility and materiality in Portugal, focusing on the excavation of two megalithic chambered tombs (Anta da Lajinha & Cabeço dos Pendentes) coupled with palaeoenvironmental analysis and field survey. In 2008 he initiated an AHRC-funded project on the buried prehistoric land surfaces associated with megalithic tombs on the small Channel Island of Herm. Four further seasons of excavation have led to a radical revision of the geomorphological history of the island and the context in which the Neolithic tombs were built.

Chris completed a book length study "Landscapes of Neolithic Brittany" published by Oxford University Press in February 2011. This developed further his arguments about the links between landscape and monumentality, and is the fruit of 15 years research on the Breton Neolithic.

His most recent project is a study of patterns of burial evidence in Britain and the Levant from the Neolithic to the Roman period. Funded by the John Templeton Foundation this project is collaborative with Durham colleagues Graham Philip and Charlotte Roberts (Archaeology) and Douglas Davies (Theology). The aim is to explore the patchiness of burial evidence from prehistory and to challenge the expectation that burial was a 'normative' practice in early societies.

A further major research interest is the auditory and acoustic environment of prehistoric sites and monuments (Scarre & Lawson eds. "Archaeoacoustics" 2006), and in 2009 co-organised an AHRC Research Cluster on this theme. He is currently co-investigator on the AHRC-funded project "Songs of the Caves: acoustics and prehistoric art in Cantabrian caves", and part of a UK-Spanish team that undertook acoustical measurements at five Upper Palaeolithic painted caves in July 2013. The results are being analysed to determine whether acoustical properties played a role in the placement of the art.

Chris is convenor of the European Megalithic Studies Group which has held four meetings since 2004, most recently in Rennes (May 2012). He was appointed a member of the NERC Radiocarbon Facility Steering Committee in 2011. He also serves on the Advisory Board of the National Geographic Global Exploration Fund Northern Europe.

Chris has supervised a number of successful PhDs on the Neolithic of Britain and western Europe. He is available to supervise PhD students in the following areas:

• Neolithic archaeology of Britain, France and Iberia

• monumentality in early societies

• landscape change in Atlantic Europe

• archaeoacoustics

Research Interests

  • • island societies of north-west Europe and the transition to the Neolithic
  • • landscape and coastal change in Atlantic Europe during the early and mid-Holocene
  • • material culture and the social and cognitive development of post-Palaeolithic societies
  • • origins and development of the Neolithic monuments of western Europe
  • • sound and acoustics in prehistoric societies

Indicators of Esteem

  • 2009: : Fellow of AHRC Peer-Review College
  • 2008: : Member of Irish Government Expert Advisory Committee on Archaeological Policy and Practice
  • 2007: : Trustee, Council for British Archaeology
  • 2006: : Invited lecturer at Collège de France (February-March)
  • 2006: Felix Neubergh Prize: Felix Neubergh Prize and Lecture, University of Göteborg, September 2006
  • 2005: : Editor, Cambridge Archaeological Journal (1991-2005)
  • 2004: : Member of the Comité Scientifique du Congrès du Centenaire of the Société Préhistorique Française 2004
  • 2003: : Annual Taft Lecture, University of Cincinnati (April 2003)

Publications

Articles: magazine

Books: authored

Books: edited

Books: sections

  • Scarre, Chris (2013). Covering the dead: the cists behind the orthostats at the Mound of the Hostages. In Tara – from the past to the future. Towards a new research agenda. O'Sullivan, Muiris, Scarre, Chris & Doyle, Maureen Dublin: Wordwell. 159-169.
  • Sévin-Allouet, Christophe & Scarre, Chris (2013). Les sépultures collectives de Grande-Bretagne: temporalité et mémoire sociale. In Transitions, Ruptures et Continuité en Préhistoire. Vol 1: Evolution des techniques, comportements funéraires, Néolithique ancien. Actes du 27è congrès SPF, Bordeaux-Les Eyzies, mai-juin 2010. Jaubert, Jacques, Fourment, Nathalie & Depaepe, Pascal Société Préhistorique Française. 229-242.
  • Scarre, Chris (2013). Pierres et paysages: blocs naturels et éléments mégalithiques dans les monuments mégalithiques britanniques. In Les Premières Architectures en Pierre en Europe Occidentale du Ve au IIe millénaire avant J.-C. actes du colloque international de Nantes, Musée Thomas Dobrée, 2-4 octobre 2008. Guyodo, Jean-Nöel & Mens, Emmanuel Rennes, France: Presses Universitaires de Rennes. 181-191.
  • Scarre, Chris (2012). Social Stratification and the State in Prehistoric Europe: The Wider Perspective. In The Prehistory of Iberia: Debating Early Social Stratification and the State. Cruz Berrocal, María García Sanjuán, Leonardo & Gilman, Antonio Routledge. 381-406.
  • Scarre, Chris, García Sanjuán, Leonardo & Wheatley, David (2011). Exploring Time and Matter in Prehistoric Monuments: debating absolute chronology and rare rocks in European megaliths. In Exploring Time and Matter in Prehistoric Monuments: debating absolute chronology and rare rocks in European megaliths. Scarre, Chris, García Sanjuán, Leonardo & Wheatley, David Junta de Andalucía. 11-23.
  • Scarre, Chris (2011). Marking time: the problem of chronology in studying European Neolithic monuments. In Exploring Time and Matter in Prehistoric Monuments: debating absolute chronology and rare rocks in European megaliths. Scarre, Chris, García Sanjuán, Leonardo & Wheatley, David Junta de Andalucía. 53-74.
  • Scarre, Chris (2011). Monumentality. In Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Ritual and Religion. Insoll, Timothy Oxford University Press. 9-23.
  • Scarre, Chris (2011). Stone people: monuments and identities in the Channel Islands. In Megaliths and Identities: Early Monuments and Neolithic Societies from the Atlantic to the Baltic. Furholt, Martin, Lüth, Friedrich & Müller, Johannes Bonn: Dr Rudolf Habelt. 1: 95-104.
  • Scarre, Chris (2010). Megaliths, memory and the power of stones. In Monumental Questions: Prehistoric Megaliths, Mounds, and Enclosures. Calado, David, Baldia, Maximilian & Boulanger, Matthew Oxford: Archaeopress. 91-96.
  • Scarre, Chris & Oosterbeek, Luiz (2010). The megalithic tombs of the middle Tagus basin and agro-pastoral origins in Western Iberia. In Beiträge zur Vor- und Frühgeschichte der Iberischen Halbinsel und Mitteleuropas. Studien in honorem Philine Kalb. Armbruester, Tanya & Hegewisch, Morten Habelt. 97-110.
  • Scarre, Chris (2009). Stones with character: animism, agency and megalithic monuments. In Materialitas: working stone, carving identity. O'Connor, Blaze, Cooney, Gabriel & Chapman, John Oxford: Oxbow Books. 9-18.
  • Scarre, Chris (2007). Appendix A. Quantitative analysis of finds from the trenches. In Keros, Dhaskalio Kavos: the investigations of 1987-88. Renfrew, Colin, Doumas, Christos, Marangou, Lila & Gavalas, Giorgog Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. 105-111.
  • Scarre, Chris (2007). Other finds of stone, B: stone and shell pestles. In Keros, Dhaskalio Kavos: the investigations of 1987-88. Renfrew, Colin, Doumas, Christos, Marangou, Lila & Gavalas, Giorgos Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. 360-363.
  • Renfrew, Colin, Scarre, Chris, Whitelaw, Todd & Brodie, Neil (2007). The excavated areas. In Excavations at Phylakopi in Melos 1974-77. Renfrew, Colin London: British School at Athens. 19-90.
  • Scarre, Chris (2006). Stone vessels and implements. In Markiani, Amorgos. An Early Bronze Age fortified settlement. Overview of the 1985-1991 investigations. Marangou, Lila, Renfrew, Colin, Doumas, Christos & Gavalas, Giorgos London and New York: British School at Athens. 174-191.
  • Scarre, Chris (2005). Holocene Europe. In The Human Past: A Textbook of World Prehistory. Scarre, Chris London and New York: Thames & Hudson. 392-431.
  • Scarre, Chris (2005). The human past: retrospect and prospect. In The Human Past: A Textbook of World Prehistory. Scarre, Chris London and New York: Thames & Hudson. 716-720.
  • Scarre, Chris (2005). The world transformed: from foragers and farmers to states and empires. In The Human Past: A Textbook of World Prehistory. Scarre, Chris London and New York: Thames & Hudson. 176-199.

Edited works: contributions

Essays in edited volumes

  • Scarre, Chris (2009). Stony ground: outcrops, rocks and quarries in the creation of megalithic monuments. In Megalithic Quarrying: Sourcing, extracting and manipulating the stones. Scarre, Chris Oxford: Archaeopress. 3-20.
  • Scarre, Chris (2008). Shrines of the land and places of power: religion and the transition to farming in western Europe. In Belief in the Past. Theoretical approaches to the archaeology of religion. Whitley, David S. & Hays-Gilpin, Kelley Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press. 209-226.
  • Scarre, Chris (2007). Changing places: monuments and the Neolithic transition in western France. In Going Over: The Mesolithic-Neolithic Transition in North-West Europe. Cummings, Vicki & Whittle, Alasdair London: The British Academy. 243-261.
  • Scarre, Chris (2007). Monuments and miniatures: representing humans in Neolithic Europe 5000-2000 BC. In Material Beginnings: a global prehistory of figurative representation. Renfrew, Colin & Morley, Iain Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. 25-37.
  • Scarre, Chris (2006). Megalithic and non-megalithic burial mounds of southern Britain. In Origin and Development of the Megalithic Monuments of Western Europe. Laporte, Luc, Joussaume, Roger & Scarre, Chris Bougon: Musée des Tumulus de Bougon. 187-215.
  • Scarre, Chris (2006). Sound, place and space: towards an archaeology of acoustics. In Archaeoacoustics. Scarre, Chris & Lawson, Graeme Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. 1-10.
  • Scarre, Chris (2004). Choosing stones, remembering places: geology and intention in the megalithic monuments of western Europe. In Soils, Stones and Symbols. Cultural perceptions of the mineral world. Boivin, Nicole & Owoc, Mary-Ann London: UCL Press. 187-202.
  • Scarre, Chris (2004). Displaying the stones: the materiality of 'megalithic' monuments. In Rethinking Materiality: the engagement of mind with the material world. DeMarrais, E., Gosden, C. & Renfrew, C. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. 141-152.
  • Scarre, Chris (2003). Diverse inspirations: landscapes, longhouses and the Neolithic monument forms of northern France. In Stones and Bones. Formal disposal of the dead in Atlantic Europe during the Mesolithic-Neolithic interface 6000-3000 BC. Burenhult, Göran Oxford: Archaeopress. 39-52.
  • Soler, Ludovic, Joussaume, Roger, Laporte, Luc & Scarre, Chris (2003). Le tumulus néolithique C de Péré à Prissé-la-Charrière (Deux-Sèvres): le niveau funéraire de la chambre mégalithique 1 (phase II du monument). In Les pratiques funéraires néolithiques avant 3500 av. J.-C. en France et dans les régions limitrophes. Chambon, Philippe & Leclerc, Jean Paris: Société Préhistorique Française. 247-258.
  • Arias, Pablo, Burenhult, Göran, Fano, Miguel A., Oosterbeek, Luiz, Scarre, Chris, Schulting, Rick, Sheridan, Alison & Whittle, Alasdair (2003). Megalithic chronologies. In Stones and Bones. Formal disposal of the dead in Atlantic Europe during the Mesolithic-Neolithic interface 6000-3000 BC. Burenhult, Göran Oxford: Archaeopress. 65-111.
  • Scarre, Chris (2003). Pioneer farmers? The Neolithic transition in western Europe. In Examining the Language/Farming Dispersal Hypothesis. Bellwood, Peter & Renfrew, Colin Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. 395-407.
  • Scarre, Chris (2002). A place of special meaning: interpreting prehistoric monuments through landscape. In Inscribed Landscapes: marking and making place. David, Bruno & Wilson, Meredith Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. 154-175.
  • Scarre, Chris (2002). Coast and cosmos: the Neolithic monuments of northern Brittany. In Monuments and Landscape in Atlantic Europe. Scarre, Chris London: Routledge. 84-102.
  • Scarre, Chris (2002). Epilogue: Colour and materiality in prehistoric society. In Colouring the Past. Jones, Andrew & Macgregor, Gavin Oxford: Berg. 227-242.
  • Scarre, Chris (2002). Situating monuments: the dialogue between built form and landform in Atlantic Europe. In Monuments and Landscape in Atlantic Europe. Scarre, Chris London: Routledge. 1-14.
  • Scarre, Chris (2001). Enclosures and related structures in Brittany and western France. In Neolithic Enclosures in Atlantic North-West Europe. Darvill, Timothy & Thomas, Julian Oxford: Oxbow Books. 24-42.

Journal papers: academic

Supervises