Dr Stephanie Wynne-Jones
Lecturer in Archaeology



Stephanie is a Swahili archaeologist, specialising in East African coastal urbanism, material culture, and social practice. She completed a BA in Archaeology at the University of Bristol in 1998, followed by an M.Phil (2000) and PhD (2005) from the University of Cambridge.  Stephanie’s PhD research was based on the Swahili coast of Tanzania, where she conducted a survey of the region around Kilwa Kisiwani, a major Swahili town of c. AD800 – 1500. Stephanie continues to work in east Africa, with a series of projects that focus on Swahili towns, trade, material culture, and identity.



After completing her PhD, Stephanie moved to Nairobi to become the Assistant Director of the British Institute in Eastern Africa from 2005 to 2008. She came to York from a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellowship held at the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology in Bristol.

Departmental roles

Chair of the Teaching Committee (2011 - present)

Departmental Library Rep (2013 - present)



Stephanie has conducted fieldwork in several regions of the East African coast, including her PhD research at Kilwa Kisiwani, Tanzania, survey on Mafia Island (with Dr Paul Lane and Dr Bertram Mapunda), excavations at Vumba Kuu, Kenya (with the National Museums of Kenya) and along caravan routes through Tanzania, with work near Lake Tanganyika. Currently, she is working on a project back in the Kilwa archipelago, at Songo Mnara (with Dr Jeffrey Fleisher). Excavations at this 14th – 16th century stonetown are aimed towards providing a richer understanding of the uses of urban space among the Swahili, and the ways that objects were bound up in spatial practices inside and outside the structures.

This work at Songo Mnara builds on a broader interest in material culture and spatial practice as a route through which to approach issues of society, identity and interaction. In addition, Stephanie has research interests in urbanism, and in the precolonial African past more generally.

Current projects

Open Spaces and Private Places: Archaeology at Songo Mnara, Tanzania

(with Dr Jeffrey Fleisher, Rice University)

As part of these large-scale excavations at a prominent Swahili stonetown, the domestic spaces are a particular focus, investigating the ways that these were lived in and structured through practice. This is part of a comprehensive approach to the site, exploring both the areas outside houses and the larger, public spaces and areas of memorialisation and ritual.

Entrepot: Maritime Network urbanism in Global Medieval Archaeology

(with Dr Søren Sindbaek, Aarhus University and University of York)

Entrepot is a collaborative project exploring the transformations that characterised the early medieval period in maritime societies across the globe. The project is organised between Aarhus University (Denmark) and the University of York. I am sparheading investigations of the Indian Ocean during this time, working in particular with Dr Jason Hawkes. We will be exploring evidence for shared practices in East African and Indian sites, as well as conducting limited survey to understand the nature of urbanism in these different regions during the late first millennium AD.

Ceramics and Society on the Swahili Coast

(with Dr Jeffrey Fleisher, Rice University)

British Academy-funded research has involved revisiting excavated collections on the East African coast, in order to explore diversity among the ceramics that characterise the early layers of Swahili sites. Collections relating to Manda, Ungwana, Unguja Ukuu, Dakawa, Tumbe, Bandarikuu, and Chibuene have already been added to a database. It is hoped that this will allow us to explore regional variation and aspects of local production and use. The full database is also available online, hosted by ADS.


Hayley McParland - Exploring Urban Space through Phytolith Studies

Tom Fitton - Pushing the Boat Out; a study of spatial organisation and redevelopment in the early Swahili ports of East Africa



First Year
  • History and Theory - Joint module leader
Second Year
  • Research Skills for Historical Archaeologists - Facilitator
  • Skills module, Ceramics - Module leader
  • Team Project, Ceramics - Module leader
Third Year
  • Special Topic - Archaeologies of Style


  • Archaeologies of Household

External activities


Editorial duties

  • Editorial board, Azania
  • Editor, Cambridge Monographs in African Archaeology, British Archaeological Reports  
  • General Editor, BIEA Memoir Series


Contact details

Dr Stephanie Wynne-Jones
Department of Archaeology
University of York
King's Manor

Tel: (44) 1904 323946