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.
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.
Southampton Ceramics Research Group
Affiliate research group(s)
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 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.
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.
Professor Joanna Sofaer
Faculty of Humanities, University of Southampton
Avenue Campus, Highfield
Room Number: 65/2231
Telephone: (023) 8059 6867
Facsimile: (023) 8059 3032