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Department of Archaeology

Staff

Dr Christopher Davis

Research Associate in the Department of Archaeology

(email at christopher.davis@durham.ac.uk)

Chris undertook both his BA and MA in Archaeology at Durham University and continued his studies in the Department of Archaeology with an AHRC funded PhD. His thesis, ‘Early Buddhist Monasteries in Sri Lanka: a landscape approach’, was linked to an AHRC-funded investigation of the hinterland of Anuradhapura, in the Northern Dry Zone of Sri Lanka. This study integrated archaeological evidence from excavations and landscape survey with epigraphic, textual and ethnographic sources to investigate the social, administrative and economic functions of Buddhist monasteries, including the role of monastic enterprise in the colonisation of marginal land, around the city of Anuradhapura between c. 340 BCE to 1200 CE.

Working within the UNESCO Chair in Archaeological Ethics and Practice in Cultural Heritage, Chris’ research relates to the archaeology of South Asia, with a continued focus towards the development of religious institutions. Located at the interface between archaeology, epigraphy, ethnography and heritage management, these elements are combined through site and landscape based approaches to provide understandings on the development of societies in the past as well as the ramifications for heritage in the present.

Chris is a member of UNESCO-sponsored archaeological investigations in the natal landscape of the Buddha, refining and characterising archaeological sequences at the sites of Lumbini and Tilaurakot (Nepal). He is part of a team that is now developing these methodologies across the Kathmandu Valley UNESCO World Heritage Property (Nepal) in multi-disciplinary post-earthquake archaeological responses to heritage damaged and destroyed in the 2015 Nepal earthquakes. These investigations are identifying and characterising archaeological sequences and assessing foundations of collapsed monuments to guide future development and reconstruction, whilst protecting cultural heritage. This methodology has now been developed through British Academy sponsored fieldwork at Jaffna Fort, in Northern Sri Lanka, where damaged heritage is assessed and the earliest sequences of the site are being uncovered and linked to Indian Ocean trade networks. 

In addition to fieldwork in Sri Lanka (Anuradhapura, Polonnaruva, Jaffna) and Nepal (Lumbini, Tilaurakot and Kathmandu Valley), Chris has been part of archaeological projects in Bangladesh (Bagerhat, Mahasthangarh and Paharpur), India (Champaner-Pavagadh), Iran (Sialk) and Cambodia (Siem Reap – Angkor).

Selected Publications

Chapter in book

  • Coningham, R.A.E., Acharya, K.P., Kunwar, R.B., Davis, C.E., Manuel, M.J., Simpson, I.A., Strickland, K.M., Hale, D., Tremblay, J. & Lafortune-Bernard, A. (2018). Excavating ancient Kapilavastu: the childhood home of Lord Buddha. In Buddha Rashmi Vesak Volume 2018: Essays in Buddhism and Buddhist Monastic Archaeology. Gunawardhana, P. & Coningham, R.A.E. Colombo, Sri Lanka Central Cultural Fund, Ministry of Education, Sri Lanka. 8-25.
  • Coningham, R.A.E., Acharya, K.P., Davis, C.E., Weise, K., Kunwar, R.B. & Simpson, I.A. (2018). Look Down, Not Up: Protecting the Post-disaster Subsurface Heritage of the Kathmandu Valley’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. In Evolving Narratives of Hazard and Risk The Gorkha Earthquake, Nepal, 2015. Bracken, L.A., Ruszczyk, H. & Robinson, T. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. 159-181.
  • Davis, C.E. (2018). Patterns of Patronage: a reanalysis of the contents and distribution of inscriptions in Sri Lanka. In Buddha Rashmi: Vesak Volume: essays in Buddhism and Buddhist monastic archaeology. Gunawardhana, P. & Coningham, R.A.E. Colombo, Sri Lanka Central Cultural Fund, Ministry of Education, Sri Lanka. 53-66.
  • Davis, C.E., Gunawardhana, P., Coningham, R.A.E., Pushparatnam, P., Schmidt, A., Manuel, M.J., Namalgamuwa, H., Senanayaka, J. & Bandara, K.G.Y. (2018). Recent excavations and survey at Jaffna Fort in 2017 and reflections on the antiquity of Indian Ocean trade. In Buddha Rashmi Vesak Volume 2018: Essays in Buddhism and Buddhist Monastic Archaeology. Gunawardhana, P. & Coningham, R.A.E. Colombo, Sri Lanka Central Cultural Fund, Ministry of Education, Sri Lanka. 67-78.
  • Manuel, M.J., Gunawardhana, P., Coningham, R.A.E., Davis, C.E., Namalgamuwa, H., Senanayaka, J, Rammungoda, U.R. & Bandara, K.G.Y. (2018). Ritual and economy reconsidered at Siva Devale No. 2, Polonnaruva. In Buddha Rashmi: Vesak Volume: essays in Buddhism and Buddhist monastic archaeology. Gunawardhana, P. & Coningham, R.A.E. Colombo, Sri Lanka: Central Cultural Fund. 33-44.
  • Coningham, R.A.E., Manuel, M.J., Davis, C.E. & Gunawardhana, P. (2017). Archaeology and Cosmopolitanism in Early Historic and Medieval Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka at the Crossroads of History. Biedermann, Z. & Strathern, A. London: UCL Press. 19-43.
  • Coningham, R.A.E., Acharya, K.P., Kunwar, R.B., Manuel. M.J., Davis, C.E. & Lafortune-Bernard, A. (2017). Promoting the Protection, Preservation and Presentation of the Natal Landscape of the Buddha in Nepal. In Buddha Rashmi Vesak Volume: Essays in Buddhism and Buddhist Monastic Archaeology. Gunawardhana, P., Coningham, R.A.E. & Nampoothiri, K. Central Cultural Fund of Sri Lanka. 13-26.
  • Coningham, R.A.E., Acharya, K.P. & Davis, C.E. (2015). Archaeological Evidence and the Historicity of the Buddha: Lumbini. In Vesak, Peace and Harmony: Thinking of Buddhist Heritage. Degalle, M. Nagananda International Buddhist University. 59-82.
  • Manuel, M.J., Coningham, R.A.E., Gunawardhana, P., Adikari, G., Strickland, K.M., Young, R.L., Davis, C.E., Jones, J., McDonnell, G., Rammungoda, U.R., Namalgamuwa, H. & Senanayake, J. (2013). Construction and Building Materials, Stone, Glass, Metal, Archaezoological, Archaeobotanical and Plastic Objects. In Anuradhapura Volume III: The Hinterland. Coningham, R.A.E. & Gunawardhana, P. Archaeopress (BAR International Series 2568). 393-444.
  • Coningham, R.A.E., Gunawardhana, P., Adikari, G., Manuel, M.J. , Davis, C.E. & Simpson, I.A. (2013). Discussion. In Anuradhapura Volume III: The Hinterland. Coningham, R.A.E. & Gunawardhana, P. Archaeopress (BAR International Series 2568). 459-479.
  • Davis, C.E. , Coningham, R.A.E. , Gunawardhana, P. & Manuel, M.J. (2013). Epigraphy in the hinterland. In Anuradhapura Volume III: The Hinterland. Coningham, R.A.E. & Gunawardhana, P. Archaeopress (BAR International Series 2568). 445-458.
  • Coningham, R.A.E., Gunawardhana, P., Adikari, G., Krishnan, K., Davis, C.E., Manuel, M.J., Rammungoda, U.R., Namalgamuwa, H.,, Senanayake, J. & Stern, B. (2013). Glazed and Unglazed Ceramics. In Anuradhapura Volume III: The Hinterland. Coningham, R.A.E. & Gunawardhana, P. Archaeopress (BAR International Series 2568). 229-332.
  • Coningham, R.A.E., Gunawardhana, P., Adikari, G. Manuel, M.J. & Davis, C.E. (2013). History of Research. In Anuradhapura Volume III: The Hinterland. Coningham, R.A.E. & Gunawardhana, P. Archaeopress (BAR International Series 2568). 9-20.
  • Coningham, R.A.E., Gunawardhana, P. Adikari, G. Davis, C.E. , Manuel, M.J. , Bailiff, I. , Batt, C.M. Namalgamuwa, H. Senanayake, J. & Rammungoda, U.R. (2013). Phasing the Hinterland. In Anuradhapura Volume III: The Hinterland. Coningham, R.A.E. & Gunawardhana, P. Archaeopress (BAR International Series 2568). 31-48.
  • Coningham, R.A.E. , Gunawardhana, P. Davis, C.E. , Manuel, M.J., Strickland, K.M., Namalgamuwa, H. Senanayake, J. & Rammungoda, U.R. (2013). Terracotta Objects. In Anuradhapura Volume III: The Hinterland. Coningham, R.A.E. & Gunawardhana, P. Archaeopress (BAR International Series 2568). 333-392.
  • Coningham, R.A.E. & Davis, C.E. (2010). The Durham Bodhisattva. In Treasures of the Oriental Museum Durham University. Barclay, C., Grocke, R. & Armstrong, H. London: Third Millennium Publishing Limited. 74-75.

Journal Article

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • Coningham, R.A.E., Acharya, K.P., Davis, C.E., Kunwar, R.B., Schmidt, A. & Simpson, I. (2017). Below the Surface in Bhaktapur: Post-Earthquake Archaeological Assessment of the Vatsala Temple and Bhaktapur's Durbar Square. SPACES 12(11): 44-54.

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Related Links

Selected Grants

  • 2017: Post-conflict pilot excavations within Jaffna Fort (Sri Lanka) (£10000.00 from )
  • 2017: Promoting sustainable pilgrimage and the protection of heritage sites in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, India (£66270.00 from UKIERI)
  • 2014: British Academy, Association of Southeast Asian Studies in the United Kingdom (ASEASUK) and European Consortium for Asian Field Study (ECAF) Visiting Fellowship – Siem Reap EFEO Centre, Cambodia (£3000.00)
  • 2014: Mapping Pashupati: Identifying and characterising the early cultural phases of the UNESCO world heritage site of Pashupati in the Kathmandu Valley (Nepal) (£2950.00 from The British Academy)