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About the Department of Archaeology

People, both past and present, are at the heart of our activities. We combine archaeological and anthropological approaches to develop an understanding of humanity and its relationship with the material world. Our internationally leading projects, across the UK and in diverse regions of the world, explore the human condition. We collaborate with our research partners in local communities and in globally important institutions

We have custom-built facilities. We also benefit from in-house and wider University laboratories, equipment and collections. These support our teaching and research in areas including:

  • maritime archaeology
  • bioarchaeology
  • human origins
  • cultural heritage management
  • cultural anthropology
  • archaeological geophysics
  • artefact studies

Our research engages with diverse and important global challenges that matter to our staff and students. Archaeology and anthropology offer key insights into:

  • climate change and sustainability
  • emerging technologies such as AI
  • wellbeing
  • equality and diversity
  • mobility
Aerial view of a crannog
Crannog above water. Credit: B Mackintosh

Research expertise

We have a sustained international reputation for theoretical, methodological and interpretive research within archaeology. Our staff have undertaken research on 6 continents, drawing on evidence from the Lower Palaeolithic to the recent past. Our research integrates scientific and cultural fields to produce sophisticated knowledge about the human past.

We have specialist expertise in the following clusters:

  • social anthropology and ethnography
  • human origins or palaeoanthropology
  • later prehistory, including Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age
  • historical archaeology, including Classical and Medieval
  • reception studies and heritage
  • maritime archaeology
  • molecular archaeology
  • biological anthropology
  • bioarchaeology and osteoarchaeology

We frequently collaborate with other disciplines to develop innovative approaches to the past. Many of our staff are active in the field in the UK and internationally. Current research considers:

  • human origins in southern Africa
  • human global colonisation
  • Neanderthals and early modern humans in western Eurasia
  • submerged landscapes
  • deep-water shipwrecks
  • coastal and island archaeology
  • prehistoric monumentality
  • urban centres and imperial networks
  • human health
  • disabilities and life-ways
  • isotopic and biomechanical analyses of past mobility
  • indigenous heritage voices
  • the representation of the past
  • the importance of heritage for wellbeing

Departmental culture

Within an ethical and supportive environment, we work hard to ensure the development of future research leaders within archaeology and anthropology. Staff and students in our department work together to generate new knowledge. We do this through original research and through fieldwork and projects. We collaborate within our research centres and clusters.

Our students develop through direct engagement with research-led teaching. Specialist laboratories, experimental facilities and new field-leading digital imaging and geophysical equipment are available to both staff and students. The department  contains key international bioarchaeological, lithic and ceramic collections. We have also pioneered digital recording and analytical techniques in the study of past material culture.

Our staff are committed to knowledge exchange and public engagement. We incorporate both into our teaching and fieldwork training.

We also have links with national and international institutions, including:

  • the National Trust
  • Historic England
  • the NHS
  • local government

Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)

Our department is committed to the creation of a sustainable work environment for staff and students that is positive, supportive and equitable. This atmosphere is at the heart of what we do.

We maintain our staff-student relationships by:

  • regular Student Staff Liaison Committees
  • Faculty EDI networks
  • our commitment to the University Equality and Diversity policy
  • UK Athena SWAN principles

As an inherently practical subject we take accessibility seriously. In addition to our own Code of Conduct for Fieldwork, we work with the University to make life in and outside the department fair and enjoyable for all.

The often difficult and contested pasts of archaeology and anthropology as disciplines are something we’re keen to engage critically with through our teaching as well as our research. We encourage our students to play an active part in this through:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • assignments
  • wider discussions and engagement

These conversations are strongest when they include and represent diverse groups of people. We continue to work towards this both as a department and more widely as a discipline.

Our courses

Research and enterprise

Learn more about archaeological research and how we bring our expertise to businesses and organisatons.

Our research community

Research centres and groups bring together specialists to share knowledge and solve problems. Archaeology staff also lead within University research institutes. Explore our projects and publications in more depth.


Archaeology is an amazing doorway through which we can use our understanding of the past to imagine and strive for better human futures.
Head of Department
Archaeology blows apart our contemporary expectations, viewpoints and prejudices – the world of the past is never as straightforward as grand narratives would have us believe.
Associate Professor
Anthropology, with its emphasis on long-term ethnographic fieldwork, allows us to delve into the fullest complexity of human societies and beyond, enabling a holistic understanding and exploration of the diverse ways in which people live.
Lecturer in Anthropology

Work with us

Contact us

Get in touch, we’re happy to help

You can contact us by:
Avenue Campus, Highfield Road, Southampton, Hampshire SO17 1BF
We’re open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm UK time

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