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ArchaeologyPart of Humanities

Who we are

Southampton is one of the leading centres in Europe for the study of archaeology.

With world-class research, field projects across the globe and programmes ranging from human origins to the modern world, we have an international reputation for the highest quality in teaching and research.

Our reputation

Our research is global in scope, of exceptional quality; in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, 100% of our research environment and 73% of our research was ranked world leading and internationally excellent. Southampton Archaeology was ranked third in the UK for research impact, recognising the role that our research plays in enhancing the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life of people in the UK and internationally.


History of Archaeology at Southampton

Archaeology at Southampton was founded in 1966. It has played a leading role in the development of archaeology in Britain and around the world. The first Professor, now Sir Barry Cunliffe, was a leading field archaeologist, and one of the pioneers of modern British archaeology. His successor, Colin Renfrew, now Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorne, was one of the leaders of the New Archaeology of the 1960s and 1970s, and possibly the most important and influential British archaeological thinker of his generation. While at Southampton, he established the Theoretical Archaeology Group conference, still the most important annual meeting for the discussion of new ideas.

In 1986, under the guidance of the late Peter Ucko, Colin Renfrew’s successor, Southampton hosted the first meeting of the World Archaeological Congress. This was a landmark event in the development of a genuinely open and diverse 'world archaeology'.

In the 1990s, Southampton Archaeology expanded into a discipline with over 20 academic staff, with interests from human origins to modern material culture and with projects spanning the globe. New developments include the formation of research groups as academic foci: the Centre for the Archaeology of Human Origins (led by Professor Clive Gamble and Dr John McNabb), the Centre for Maritime Archaeology (led by Professor Jon Adams and Dr Lucy Blue) and the Archaeological Computing Research Group (led by Dr Graeme Earl and Dr David Wheatley). Southampton has also further developed its interests in archaeological science, with world-leading work in human and animal bones, ceramics, lithics and archaeological dating.

Fieldwork has always been one of Southampton’s strengths, and is currently spear-headed by recent and on-going projects in Italy (Portus), Hungary (Szazhalombatta), the Channel Islands (La Cotte de St Brelade on Jersey) Wiltshire (Avebury and Cranborne Chase), amongst other places.

The contribution of Professor David Peacock to archaeological science was marked in 2012 by the award of both the Archaeological Institute of America’s Pomerance Award and of the British Academy’s Kenyon medal. Professor Stephanie Moser won the Association of American Book Publishers’ prose Book Award in 2007 for Wondrous Curiosities (Yale University Press). Professor Clive Gamble is President of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Professor David Hinton of the Royal Archaeological Institute, while Dr Josh Pollard is Secretary of the Prehistoric Society, of which Professor Tim Champion is a past President. Professor Simon Keay is Director of Archaeology at the British School at Rome, and a Corresponding Member of the Institut d'Estudis Catalans (Barcelona).

Southampton graduates have gone on to shape the discipline around the globe, from universities to units and museums. Distinguished alumni include Professors David Austin, Tim Darvill, Michael Fulford, Richard Hodges, Michael Parker Pearson and Christopher Woolgar. In 2007 Emad Khalil from Egypt and Fahad al-Hawas from Saudi Arabia, both Southampton PhD graduates, were awarded a prestigious achievement award by the International Conference of Arab Archaeologists.

Outstanding academics

Our academics are leaders in their discipline and span a range of research interests.  

Key facts



In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) 100% of our research environment and research impact has been ranked world leading and internationally excellent.



100% of Archaeology students were satisfied or very satisfied with the quality of their course NSS, 2017



From Human Origins to Maritime Archaeology, we offer exciting opportunities for postgraduate taught study and doctoral research with access to world class facilities.

Dr John McNabb

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