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Durham University

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Staff Profile

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 robin.skeates@durham.ac.uk)

Biography

Through my research over the last two decades, I have contributed in particular to the prehistoric archaeology of Italy and the Central Mediterranean region. My publications explore a wide variety of themes within the overlapping inter-disciplinary fields of material culture, visual and sensual culture, museum and heritage studies. A central concern is with interpreting social relations, strategies and transformations between the Upper Palaeolithic and the Bronze Age, including those relating to age, gender and the body. This relates to my interest in ritual performance, including mortuary practices and meanings, and in the cultural construction and transformation of landscape, including liminality, the underworld, the social dynamics of enclosure, and commemoration. It equally relates to my interest in the biographies and power of objects, including the production, exchange and ascription of value to early copper artefacts, greenstone axe-amulets, flint arrowheads, decorated pottery, shell trumpets, coral, and prehistoric objects in museum collections. Out of this has evolved my strong interest in archaeologies of art and visual culture, including ways of seeing, creativity and tradition, visual communication and transformation, the politics of representation and display, and the symbolising of social boundaries, identities, status and prestige. This, in turn, has led to my involvement with sensual culture studies. I am interested in settlement strategies and resource exploitation, including transitions to agriculture in Italy, and upland archaeology in Wales where I have undertaken extensive field-survey work. I work on radiocarbon chronologies relating to prehistoric Italy, and promote a more widespread and critical use of them. More generally, I am interested in the history of archaeological thought, including the intellectual and political history of archaeological collectors, museum collections and exhibitions in the Mediterranean and beyond. I am also concerned with archaeological ethics, and have contributed to debates surrounding public archaeology in Britain and abroad.

Research Groups

Department of Archaeology

Research Projects

Department of Archaeology

  • An Archaeology of the Senses: Prehistoric Malta
  • Caves in Context: the Place of Caves in Middle Bronze Age Southern Lazio, Italy
  • Identifying and communicating the ‘wows’ of archaeology outdoors
  • Journeys to the Underworld: Ritual Transformations of Persons, Objects and Caves in Prehistoric Central Sardinia

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

Teaching Areas

  • Central Mediterranean Prehistory
  • MA Museum & Artefact Studies

Selected Publications

Authored book

  • Skeates, Robin (2010). An Archaeology of the Senses: Prehistoric Malta. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Hicks, D., Milne, G., Shepherd, J. & Skeates, R. (2009). Excavating the Archives: Archive Archaeology and the Higher Education Sector. London: HEFCE.
  • R. Skeates (2005). Visual Culture and Archaeology: Art and Social Life in Prehistoric South-East Italy. London: Duckworth.
  • Skeates R (2000). Debating the Archaeological Heritage. London: Duckworth.
  • Skeates R (2000). The Collecting of Origins: collectors and collections of Italian prehistory and the cultural transformation of value (1550-1999). Oxford: British Archaeological Reports.

Edited book

  • Skeates, R. (2017). Museums and Archaeology. Leicester Readers in Museum Studies. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
  • Bergsvik, K.A. & Skeates, R. (2012). Caves in Context: The Cultural Significance of Caves and Rockshelters in Europe. Oxbow Books.
  • Skeates, R., McDavid, C. & Carman, J. (2011). The Oxford Handbook of Public Archaeology. Oxford University Press.
  • Skeates, R. & Gheorghiu, D. (2008). Prehistoric Stamps: Theory and Experiments. Bucureşti: Editura Universităţii din Bucureşti.

Chapter in book

  • Prijatelj, Agni & Skeates, Robin (2018). Caves as Vibrant Places: A Theoretical Manifesto. In Between Worlds. 9.
  • Silvestri, L., Rolfo, M.F., Angle, M., Skeates, R. & Salari, L (2018). Faunal remains and ritualisation: case studies from Bronze Age caves in central Italy. In The Bioarchaeology of Ritual and Religion. A. Livarda, R. Madgwick & S. Riera Mora Oxbow Books. 129-147.
  • Skeates, Robin (2017). Prehistoric figurines in Italy. In The Oxford Handbook of Prehistoric Figurines. Insoll, Tim Oxford: Oxford University Press. 777-798.
  • Skeates, R. (2016). Experiencing darkness and light in caves: later prehistoric examples from Seulo in central Sardinia. In The Archaeology of Darkness. Dowd, M. & Hensey, R. Oxford: Oxbow Books. 39-49.
  • Skeates, Robin (2015). Imagining the sensual cultures of prehistoric Malta. In How Do We Imagine the Past? On Metaphorical Thought, Experientiality and Imagination in Archaeology. Gheorghiu, D. & Bouissac, P. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 111-120.
  • Skeates, Robin (2015). Italian enclosures. In The Oxford Handbook of Neolithic Europe. Fowler, C., Harding, J. & Hofmann, D. Oxford University Press. 779-793.
  • Skeates, Robin (2015). Underground religion in the Central Mediterranean Neolithic. In The Oxford Handbook of Neolithic Europe. Fowler, C., Harding, J. & Hofmann, D. Oxford University Press. 895-910.
  • Skeates, Robin (2014). Communicating over space and time in the world of the Iceman. In Space and Time in Mediterranean Prehistory. Souvatzi, S. & Hadji, A. New York: Routledge. 138-159.
  • Skeates, Robin (2013). Constructed caves: transformations of the underworld in prehistoric southeast Italy. In Sacred Darkness: A Global Perspective on the Ritual Use of Caves. Moyes, H. Boulder, Colorado: University Press of Colorado. 27-44.
  • Bergsvik, K.A. & Skeates, R. (2012). Caves in context: an introduction. In Caves in Context: The Cultural Significance of Caves and Rockshelters in Europe. Bergsvik, K.A. & Skeates, R. Oxford: Oxbow Books. 1-9.
  • Skeates, R. (2012). Caves in need of context: prehistoric Sardinia. In Caves in Context: The Cultural Significance of Caves and Rockshelters in Europe. Bergsvik, K.A. & Skeates, R. Oxford: Oxbow Books. 166-187.
  • Gradoli, G. & Skeates, R. (2012). Intellectual and spiritual expression in central Sardinia during the Neolithic and Bronze Age: the Seulo Caves Project. In The Intellecual and Spiritual Expressions of Non-Literate Peoples. Colloquio UISPP – CISNEP, Capo di Ponte, Valcamonica, 22-24 June 2012. Anati, E. UISPP and CISNEP. 128-136.
  • Skeates, R., Carman, J. & McDavid, C. (2012). Introduction: questioning archaeology's place in the world. In The Oxford Handbook of Public Archaeology. Skeates, R., McDavid, C. & Carman, J. Oxford University Press. 1-10.
  • Skeates, R. (2012). Making sense of the history of archaeological representation. In The Oxford Handbook of Public Archaeology. Skeates, R., McDavid, C. & Carman, J. Oxford Oxford University Press. 82-99.
  • Skeates, Robin (2010). The art of memory: personal ornaments in Copper Age South-East Italy. In Material Mnemonics: Everyday Memory in Prehistoric Europe. Lillios, K.T. & Tsamis, V. Oxford: Oxbow Books. 73-84.
  • Skeates, R. (2009). Trade and interaction. In The Oxford Handbook of Archaeology. Gosden, C., Cunliffe, B. & Joyce, R.A. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 555-578.
  • Skeates, Robin (2007). Abstract and figurative representation and the politics of display in Neolithic Southeast Italy. In Image and Imagination: a global prehistory of figurative representation. Renfrew, C. & Morley, I. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. 199-210.
  • Skeates, Robin (2007). Religious experience in the prehistoric Maltese underworld. In Cult in Context: Reconsidering Ritual in Archaeology. Barrowclough, David & Malone, Caroline Oxford: Oxbow Books. 90-96.
  • Skeates, R. (2005). Chronological bibliography of Luigi Cardini’s publications. In Explorations in Albania, 1930-39: the Notebooks of Luigi Cardini, Prehistorian with the Italian Archaeological Mission. Francis, K. London: British School at Athens. 205-9.
  • Skeates, R. (2005). Luigi Cardini (1898-1971): a biography. In Explorations in Albania, 1930-39: the Notebooks of Luigi Cardini, Prehistorian with the Italian Archaeological Mission. Francis, K. London: British School at Athens. 37: 4-9.
  • R. Skeates (2005). Museum archaeology and the Mediterranean cultural heritage. In The Archaeology of Mediterranean Prehistory. Blake, E. & Knapp, A. B. Oxford: Blackwell. 303-320.
  • Skeates, R.G. (2005). Visual culture in Neolithic South East Italy. In Papers in Italian Archaeology VI: Communities and Settlements from the Neolithic to the Early Medieval Period: Proceedings of the 6th Conference of Italian Archaeology held at the University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology, The Netherlands, April 15-17, 2003. Attema, P., Nijboer, A. & Zifferero, A. Oxford: Archaeopress. 2: 541-544.
  • R. Skeates (2003). Radiocarbon dating and interpretations of the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in Italy. In The Widening Harvest. The Neolithic Transition in Europe: Looking Back, Looking Forward. Ammerman, A. J. & Biagi, P. Boston: Archaeological Institute of America. 157-187.
  • R. Skeates (2002). The Neolithic enclosures of the Tavoliere, South-East Italy. In Enclosures in Neolithic Europe: Essays on Causewayed and Non-Causewayed Sites. G. Varndell & P. Topping Oxford: Oxbow Books. 51-8.
  • R. Skeates (2001). Archaeologies of art: contributions to World Art Studies. In Raising the Eyebrow: John Onians and World Art Studies. An Album Amicorum in his Honour. L. Golden Oxford: British Archaeological Reports. 289-300.

Journal Article

  • Skeates, Robin & Frieman, Catherine J. (2019). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 22(1): 1.
  • Skeates, Robin & Frieman, Catherine J. (2018). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 21(01): 1-2.
  • Skeates, Robin & Frieman, Catherine J. (2018). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 21(02): 157-158.
  • Frieman, Catherine J. & Skeates, Robin (2018). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 21(03): 333-335.
  • Skeates, Robin (2017). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 20(04): 601-602.
  • Skeates, R. (2017). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 20(01): 1-3.
  • Skeates, Robin (2017). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 20(02): 209-210.
  • Skeates, Robin (2017). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 20(03): 401.
  • Olivieri, A., Sidore, C., Achilli, A., Angius, A., Posth, C., Furtwängler, A., Brandini, S., Rosario Capodiferro, M., Gandini, F., Zoledziewska, M., Pitzalis, M., Maschio, A., Busonero, F., Lai, L., Skeates, R., Gradoli, M.G., Beckett, J., Marongiu, M., Mazzarello, V., Marongiu, P., Rubino, S., Rito, T., Macaulay, V., Semino, O., Pala, M., Abecasis, G.R., Schlessinger, D., Conde-Sousa, E., Soares, P., Richards, M.B., Cucca, F. & Torroni, A. (2017). Mitogenome Diversity in Sardinians: A Genetic Window onto an Island's Past. Molecular Biology and Evolution 34(5): 1230-1239.
  • Skeates, R. (2017). Mobility and Place Making in Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene Italy. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 30(2): 167-188.
  • Skeates, R. (2017). Soundscapes of Temple Period Malta. Time and Mind 10(1): 61-67.
  • Skeates, Robin (2017). Towards an Archaeology of Everyday Aesthetics. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 27(4): 607-616.
  • Skeates, R. (2016). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 19(1): 1-2.
  • Skeates, R. (2016). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 19(2): 185-186.
  • Skeates, R. (2016). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 19(3): 399.
  • Skeates, R. (2016). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 19(4): 569-570.
  • Skeates, R. (2016). Fetishism and visual culture in Later Neolithic Southeast Italy. Time and Mind 9(4): 335-352.
  • Skeates, R. (2015). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 18(4): 559-561.
  • Skeates, R. (2015). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 18(1): 1-3.
  • Skeates, R. (2015). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 18(2): 187-189.
  • Skeates, R. (2015). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 18(3): 377-379.
  • Skeates, Robin (2014). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 17(2): 181-183.
  • Skeates, R. (2014). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 17(1): 1-3.
  • Skeates, R. (2014). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 17(3): 367-368.
  • Skeates, R. (2014). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 17(4): 577-578.
  • Skeates, R. (2013). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 16(3): 375-377.
  • Skeates, Robin (2013). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 16(4): 587-588.
  • Skeates, R. (2013). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 16(1): 1-2.
  • Skeates, R. (2013). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 16(2): 219-220.
  • Skeates, R.G., Beckett, J. & Gradoli, M.G. (2013). The cultural life of caves in Seulo, central Sardinia. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 26(1): 97-126.
  • Skeates, R. (2012). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 15(1): 1-3.
  • Skeates, R. (2012). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 15(2): 183-186.
  • Skeates, R. (2012). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 15(3): 365-366.
  • Skeates, R. (2012). On the noble digger's ode to the trowel. Norwegian Archaeological Review 45(1): 102-103.
  • Skeates, R. (2011). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 14(1-2): 7-10.
  • Skeates, R. (2011). Editorial. European Journal of Archaeology 14(3): 357-359.
  • Skeates, Robin (2011). Making sense of world art: an archaeological perspective. World Art 1(1): 143-149.
  • Skeates, Robin (2011). The Seulo caves project, Sardinia: a report on archaeological work undertaken in 2009 and 2010. Cave and Karst Science 38(3): 131-136.
  • Skeates, Robin (2010). Journeys to the underworld: ritual transformations of persons, objects and caves in prehistoric Central Sardinia. Past: The Newsletter of the Prehistoric Society (65): 13-14.
  • Skeates, Robin (2009). Archaeological discoveries in the caves of Seulo, Central Sardinia. The European Archaeologist (32): 4-5.
  • Skeates, R. (2008). Embodiment and visual reproduction in the Neolithic: the case of stamped symbols. Documenta Praehistorica 35: 179-184.
  • Skeates, R. (2008). Making sense of the Maltese Temple Period: An Archaeology of Sensory Experience and Perception. Time and Mind: The Journal of Archaeology, Consciousness and Culture 1(2): 207-238.
  • Skeates, R. (2008). Pounding and grinding stones in prehistoric Malta. The European Archaeologist (29): 8.
  • Skeates, R. (2007). Neolithic stamps: cultural patterns, processes and potencies. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 17(2): 183-198.
  • R. Skeates (2003). New radiocarbon dates for prehistoric Italy: supplementary list 5. The Accordia Research Papers 9: 163-182.
  • R. Skeates (2003). Prehistoric chert exploitation in the Valle del Cesolone (Macerata): a preliminary project report. Papers of the British School at Rome 71: 1-15.
  • R. Skeates (2003). Speaking for the past in the present: text, authority and learning in archaeology museums. Public Archaeology 2(4): 209-18.
  • R. Skeates (2003). Visual culture in prehistoric South-East Italy. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 68: 165-83.
  • R. Skeates (2000). The social dynamics of enclosure in the Neolithic of the Tavoliere, south-east Italy. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 13.2: 155-88.

Book review

  • Skeates, R. (2016). From Cave to Dolmen: Ritual and Symbolic Aspects in the Prehistory between Sciacca, Sicily and the Central Mediterranean. Oxford: Archaeopress Archaeology. 2014. Germania 94(1-2): 311-314.
  • Skeates, Robin (2015). Book review. Rethinking the North Italian Early Neolithic. European Journal of Archaeology 18(1): 165-169.
  • Skeates, Robin (2014). Book review. Making Senses of the Past: Toward a Sensory Archaeology. American Antiquity 79(2): 372-373.
  • Skeates, Robin (2014). Book review. The Making of the Middle Sea: A History of the Mediterranean from the Beginning to the Emergence of the Classical World. European Journal of Archaeology 17(4): 733-736.
  • Skeates, Robin (2013). Book review. Nils Anfinset and Melanie Wrigglesworth (eds): Local Societies in Bronze Age Northern Europe. Norwegian Archaeological Review 46(1): 131-133.
  • Skeates, Robin (2011). Book review. Caroline Malone, Simon Stoddart, Anthony Bonanno and David Trump, eds, Mortuary Customs in Prehistoric Malta: Excavations at the Brochtorff Circle at Xaghra (1987–94). (Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, 2009, 521 pp., 333 figs., hbk, ISBN 978-1-902937-49-6). European Journal of Archaeology 14(1-2): 299-301.
  • Skeates, R. (2010). Book Review: Prehistoric Europe: Theory and Practice, edited by Andrew Jones, 2008. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 20(1): 132-133.
  • Skeates, Robin (2009). Book Review: An Introduction to Museum Archaeology. By Hedley Swain. The Archaeological Journal 166(1): 265.
  • Skeates, R. (2009). Book review: Uplands of Ancient Sicily and Calabria: The Archaeology of Landscape Revisited. European Journal of Archaeology 12(1-3): 255-257.
  • Skeates, R. (2007). Book Review: Dougless W. Bailey. Prehistoric Figurines: Representation and Corporeality in the Neolithic. Abingdon & New York: Routledge; 2005. Antiquity 81(313): 801-802.
  • Skeates, R. (2007). Review: Menotti, F. (ed.) 2004. 'Living on the Lake in Prehistoric Europe: 150 Years of Lake-Dwelling Research'. London: Routledge. Environmental Archaeology 12(1): 95-97.
  • Skeates, R. (2006). The Power of Art: Aesthetics and Rock Art, edited by Thomas Heyd & John Clegg, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 16(2): 261-262.
  • R. Skeates (2002). What’s in store: Regional Museums Store, Beamish Open Air Museum, Durham. Museums Journal 102(9): 37.
  • R. Skeates (2001). Book review: Making City Histories in Museums, by Gaynor Kavanagh and Elizabeth Frostick (eds), London: Leicester University Press, 1998. Urban History 28(1): 133-134.

Edited Journal

  • Skeates, R. & Robb, J. (2008). Editorial: Ruth Whitehouse. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, 21 (1): Equinox Publishing.

Working Paper

  • Skeates, R. (2013). Neolithic Italy at 4004 BC: people and places. Accordia Research Papers 13: 1-29.

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

Supervises