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Professor Joanna Sofaer 

Professor of Archaeology

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Professor Joanna Sofaer is a Professor of Archaeology within Archaeology at the University of Southampton.

My research combines innovative material culture based approaches with theoretical work. I have published widely on the European Copper and Bronze Ages, archaeologies of social identity (including archaeologies of the body, age and gender), and human bioarchaeology. I lead the HERA-Funded Project Creativity and Craft Production in Middle and Late Bronze Age Europe (CinBA) and am a co-director of the research at the Bronze Age Tell settlement at Százhalombatta, Hungary. Current research also includes collaborations with colleagues at the Institute of Archaeology, Zagreb, Croatia and The Francisc Ranier Institute of Biological Anthropology, Bucharest, Romania.

I was a partner in the AHRC-funded PARNASSUS project (2010-2013). This is an interdisciplinary project examining the effects of floods and driving rain on historic buildings with collaboration between archaeologists, engineers, geographers, and architects. I am interested in understanding long-term social responses to the built environment. From 2009-2012 I led the Southampton team in the EC-funded project Forging Identities: Mobility of Culture in Bronze Age Europe, and from 2002-2006 was a partner in the EC-funded Emergence of European Communities Project. Other completed research projects include Disinter/est: Digging Up Our Childhood (2001-2007) a collaboration bringing together archaeology and arts practice.

I have given invited lectures and keynote presentations in many countries including Argentina, Canada, Germany, Norway, Sweden and the USA, as well as in the UK. I am currently the external examiner for the University of Cambridge Part I Archaeology, sit on steering committees for a range of international projects and research groups, am a member of the Wenner-Gren Foundation review panel and the AHRC peer review college, and regularly review for a number of other European research councils. I am on the editorial board of the Springer series Bridging Bioarchaeology and Social Theory. I am a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.





Research interests

I have several specific research concerns. These are linked by an underlying interest in the relationship between the body, identity, and material culture, as well as the wider development of archaeological theory and practice.

The European Copper and Bronze Ages

The Bronze Age was a period that saw the development of crafts that we take for granted today, as well as elaborately decorated objects with developments such as colour, pattern and texture in a range of materials using new and established technologies. I am particularly interested in the archaeology of creativity and craft and lead the HERA-funded international project Creativity and Craft Production in Middle and Late Bronze Age Europe (CinBA). I look at attitudes to technology and innovation, and study the connection between shifts in social structure, social identities, the introduction of new technologies and changes in artefact form through research into ceramics, as well as other materials and objects. I also explore relationships between different crafts. My work concentrates primarily on material from Central Europe and the Balkans although I have also worked on material from Britain and Atlantic Europe. I collaborate widely with colleagues in a number of European universities, museums, institutes and academies of science. Current collaborations include colleagues in Austria, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Serbia, and Romania, as well as in the UK.

I co-direct the major international excavation project at the Bronze Age tell settlement at Százhalombatta, Hungary. I have worked at the site since 2000 and co-ordinate the study of the rich and complex ceramic assemblage. Every year I lead a team of students from the University of Southampton to excavate at the site.

Human Bioarchaeology

I am interested in exploring the relationship between society, culture, and biology through the human body. My work combines archaeological theory with bioarchaeological investigation, including the study of social identities such as age and gender. I am also interested in the philosophy and practice of bioarchaeology. My research in this area considers the ways that bioarchaeologists practice their discipline, in particular the ways that they relate to skeletal bodies and the role of the skeleton in contemporary society. I draw upon other disciplines interacting with bodies, including performance art, to reflect back upon osteological practice. I have studied collections in the UK and Europe. Current research includes collaborations with colleagues at the University of Leiden (Netherlands), The Francisc Ranier Institute of Anthropology, Bucharest (Romania), English Heritage (UK), and Department of Anatomy, University of Southampton.

Archaeology and Contemporary Craft / Arts Practice

I am exploring the ways that Bronze Age craft can act as inspiration for contemporary crafts practice. In the Maker Engagement Project. I work with the Crafts Council and contemporary designers / makers to research the link between ancient and modern creativity through engagements with Bronze Age objects. In 2011-2012 I worked with students and staff from 5 Higher Education institutions in England running contemporary craft courses. This resulted in the CinBA Live Project Exhibition.

Recent work has also seen me investigate the relationship between Bioarchaeology and Performance Art as means of understanding the human body. Osteoarchaeology and arts practice are two disciplines that work with the human skeleton. In both cases, this engagement arises from curiosity regarding the materiality of the body.

Research group(s)

Southampton Ceramics Research Group

Affiliate research group(s)


Research project(s)

Creativity and craft production in Middle and Late Bronze Age Europe

Creativity and craft production in Middle and Late Bronze Age Europe (CinBA) brings together partners from the Universities of Southampton, Cambridge and Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the National Museum of Denmark, the Natural History Museum of Vienna, Zagreb Archaeological Museum, Lejre Archaeological Park (Sagnlandet) and the Crafts Council.

Parnassus Project

PARNASSUS is an interdisciplinary collaboration between the University of Southampton, UCL and the University of Bristol that is investigating the adverse environmental effects and adaptation measures needed for the protection of cultural heritage from climate change impact.

Százhalombatta Excavation Project

The Százhalombatta Archaeological Excavation (SAX) project is an international co-operation led by Dr Magdolna Vicze, (Director of the Matrica Museum, Százhalombatta), together with Dr Marie Louise Stig Sørensen (University of Cambridge) and Dr Joanna Sofaer (University of Southampton). Excavation is focusing on domestic contexts, revealing a detailed picture of life at the site.



Book Section(s)


  • Changes in hip geometry from medieval to modern times - Chumley, A., Petley, G., Edwards, C.J., Taylor, P., Mays, S., Sofaer Derevenski, J., Mahon, P., Cooper, C. and Arden, N.K.
    26th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, Seattle, USA
    1 - 5 Oct 2004


I teach courses at all levels of the curriculum and am keen to develop new and innovative ways of teaching.

Year 1

Arch1009: Introduction to Archaeological Materials

Year 2

Arch2004: Introduction to European Prehistory
UOSM2030: Body and Society (a curriculum innovation module open to students across the University)

Year 3

Arch3005: Critical Approaches to the European Bronze Age

Year 4

Arch6112: Materials, Technology and Social Life
Arch6106: Osteoarchaeology and Palaeopathology in Context

I supervise Undergraduate and MA dissertations. I train students in fieldwork and post-excavation techniques at the Bronze Age tell at Százhalombatta, Hungary.

PhD Supervision

I am keen to supervise postgraduate students in the following areas: European Copper and Bronze Age, creativity and craft in prehistory, archaeologies of the body (including theoretically informed human osteoarchaeology), and social identity (including age and gender) in prehistory.

I currently supervise the following PhD students:

  • Sarah Coxon: Belegiš Ceramics: An Exploration of Bronze Age Creative Process and Material Consequence
  • Carolyn Felton: Sexual Dimorphism and Markers of Occupational Stress in the Spine: a Novel Approach
  • Julieta Fores-Munoz: People on the Move: Exploring Singularity in Central Veracruz, Mexico
  • Robert Lee: Influences of Woodcrafting on Metal Tool Development during the Late Bronze Age in Southern England
  • Sarah Stark: Juvenile Growth: A Geometric Morphometric Approach
  • Ferenc Toth: A Bioarchaeological Approach to Masculinity
  • Eleanor Williams: From Fresh Cadaver to Skeletal Matter. An Archaeothanatological and Anthropological Approach to the Study of Cluniac Funerary Practices

Past students include:

  • Sandy Budden: Renewal and Reinvention: The Role of Learning Strategies in the Early to Late Middle Bronze Age of the Carpathian Basin
  • Sarah Inskip: Islam in Iberia or Iberian Islam? Bioarchaeology and the Analysis of Religious Change
  • Christina Karlsson: Food Culture at the Bronze Age Tell at Százhalombatta, Hungary
  • Attila Kreiter: Technological Choices and Material Meanings: Analyses of Early and Middle Bronze Age Ceramics from Hungary
  • Argyroula Nafplioti: Population Bio-cultural History in the South Aegean During the Bronze Age
  • Kristin Oma: Human-Animal Relationships: Mutual Becomings in the Household of Scandinavia and Sicily 900-500 BC
Body and Society
Professor Joanna Sofaer
Faculty of Humanities, University of Southampton
Avenue Campus, Highfield
SO17 1BF
United Kingdom

Room Number: 65/2231

Telephone: (023) 8059 6867
Facsimile: (023) 8059 3032

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