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Professor John Mcnabb

Professor John Mcnabb


Research interests

  • Acheulean – the broad umbrella label under which we find the material culture of the handaxe makers, Homo erectus and Homo heidelbergensis (c. 1.8 – 0.3 mya)
  • Development of Human Origins research as an academic discipline

More research

Connect with John


I began my archaeological career at Lancaster University. Dr Roger Jacobi was an inspirational lecturer and he kindled a passion for human origins research that has never dimmed. After my BA I went to the Institute of Archaeology in London to do an MA under the equally inspiring Dr Mark Newcomer. It was he who set me to look at the excavated material from the Barnfield Pit, Swanscombe, which had not been published at that time. This became the core of my doctoral dissertation on the Clactonian, a stone tool industry that is still very close to my heart.

After completing my Ph.D I worked as a volunteer assistant at the British Museum where I collaborated with colleagues on publishing Swanscombe and working on other British Lower Palaeolithic sites. In 1995 I replaced Professor John Gowlett for a year at Liverpool while he was on sabbatical. I stayed on as an Honorary Research Fellow at Liverpool working on further publications of British Lower Palaeolithic sites and collaborating with colleagues from Liverpool and Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg, on Earlier Stone Age sites in South Africa. My first trip to Africa, to work on the Cave of Hearths, Limpopo province SA, kindled a deep love of Africa and its archaeology.

I joined the Southampton department in 2000. Since then I have worked on a number of projects, completed my African research, and developed new interests in the history of Human Origins research. I have expanded my research interests to include the Lower Palaeolithic of Greece, and most recently I returned to Africa to work on the site of Isimila, Tanzania, with colleagues from Dar-es-Salaam and Brighton. I focus on the archeology of the Acheulean, the culture of Homo erectus and Homo heidelbergensis, although I have many other research interests.