Archaeology is concerned with the study of the entirety of the human past

Welcome to the School of Archaeology. Here we host an outstanding research programme covering an extensive geographical and chronological span. Our students benefit from an exceptional concentration of experts through daily contact with leaders in their fields which include: bioarchaeology, chronology, materials, ancient DNA, museums and collections, experimental and theoretical perspectives. We have projects on all inhabited continents and win research funding from a wide range of national and international sources. We are ranked number one in the world for archaeology in the QS Top Universities World Rankings by Subject for two years in a row, 2017 and 2018. We offer a range of innovative laboratories and benefit from long-standing partnerships with the University museums. We are also particularly fortunate that the legacies of eminent archaeologists who have called Oxford home, including Sir Arthur Evans and Lawrence of Arabia, continue to provide inspiration to both students and staff.

News and Announcements

19-06-2018

Atlas of Hillforts wins Esri UK Award for Community Engagement

Congratulations to John Pouncett of the School of Archaeology for his critical role in winning the Esri UK Customer Success Award for Community Engagement for the Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland project.  The Atlas uses Esri's GIS mapping software and beat off strong competition from projects at Atkins and Transport for London. A research team based at the universities of Oxford, Edinburgh and University College Cork devloped the Atlas and it has been helped by citizen scientists from across England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Ireland, experiencing over 200000 visitors to the site in its first eleven months. 

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22-05-2018

Reconstructing South Africa's climate over the last two million years

In a new study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, a team of scientists working at Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa, including former School of Archaeology DPhil student Michaela Ecker and current Head of School Professor Julia Lee-Thorp, used multiple proxies to reconstruct the past climate and environment in the interior of southern Africa over the last two million years.

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15-05-2018

Economic health of the Roman Empire revealed in analysis of lead in ice core from Greenland

In a new study published in PNAS, a team of scientists, including Professor Andrew Wilson, Professor Mark Pollard, and Elisabeth Thompson of the School of Archaeology used ice samples from the North Greenland Ice Core Project (NGRIP) to measure, date and analyze European lead emissions that were captured in Greenland ice between 1100 BC and AD 800. Their results provide new insights for historians about how European civilizations and their economies fared over time.

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09-04-2018

Homo sapiens in Arabia 85,000 years ago

Congratulations to Huw Groucutt and Eleanor Scerri who are part of a team of researchers whose paper in Nature: Ecology & Evolution demonstrates that Homo sapiens reached Al Wusta, a site in Saudi Arabia, by 85ka years ago. The evidence from Al Wusta shows that the early dispersals of H. sapiens out of Africa were not limited to the Levantine woodlands sustained by winter rainfall, but extended deep into the Arabian interior where enhanced summer rainfall created semi-arid grasslands containing abundant fauna and perennial lakes. 

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09-04-2018

Dawn of England: Viking Archaeology

Dr Jane Kershaw gives a full length interview to BBC Somerset's Charlie Taylor, about new evidence that suggests King Alfred colluded with Vikings.  Listen to it here.

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06-04-2018

Download this app to help archaeologists explore the origins of Easter & the Easter Bunny

A multidisciplinary team, including members of the Palaeobarn team at the School of Archaeology, have developed an app 'Ancient Animals' as part of their AHRC funded project Exploring the Easter E.g.: Shifting Baselines and Changing Perceptions of Cultural and Biological “Aliens".

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16-03-2018

Oldest DNA from Africa offers clues to mysterious ancient culture

Ancient DNA extracted from 15,000 year old human burials in Morocco show genetic profiles implying substantial Near Eastern and sub-Saharan African-related ancestries (63.5% and 36.5%, respectively). This is so far the oldest human DNA evidence from Africa and provides genomic evidence for contacts between North Africa and the Near East, as well as areas south of the Sahara, long before the Neolithic transition (which occurred at least four millennia later).

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07-03-2018

Hillfort atlas wins industry recognition at international conference

A School of Archaeology research project mapping all the hillforts across England and Ireland, has been lauded by industry leaders at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference, Austin, Texas, as one of the best examples of multidisciplinary research in the UK. 

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05-03-2018

No. 1 in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018

The School of Archaeology is delighted to share the news that, for the second year in a row, Oxford has been ranked number one in the world for archaeology. QS Top Universities measure metrics including academic peer review, teaching commitment, research impact and employer confidence in the gradautes of the institution. 

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28-02-2018

From Past to Present, Natural Cosmetics Unwrapped

Over the last two years, a multidisciplinary team led by Dr Thibaut Devièse from the School of Archaeology and in collaboration with Dr Szu Shen Wong from Keele University and Dr Jane Draycott from the University of Glasgow has been studying the evolution of ancient skincare products over time.

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26-02-2018

Dr Malafouris awarded ERC grant for 'Handmade: Understanding Creative Gesture in Pottery Making'

Dr. Lambros Malafouris, School of Archaeology at Oxford, has been awarded a prestigious European Research Council Consolidator Grant for his project Handmade: Understanding Creative Gesture in Pottery Making. 

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23-02-2018

The Donkey in Human History

Congratulations to Peter Mitchell on the publication of his new book, The Donkey in Human History. Spanning the globe and extending from the donkey's initial domestication up to the present, the book seeks to resituate the donkey (and its hybrid offspring such as the mule) in the unfolding of human history, looking not just at what donkeys and mules did, but also at how people have thought about and understood them. 

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