Dr Stephanie Wynne-Jones
Lecturer in Archaeology



**Stephanie is currently on secondment from the University of York, working on a Pro Futura Scientia fellowship at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study**

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 (2008-2011). Stephanie is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology. In 2015 she was awadred a Pro Futura Scientia fellowship at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, and is currently in residence in Uppsala, where she is affiliated with the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History of Uppsala University.

Departmental roles

Chair of the Teaching Committee (2011 - 2015)

Departmental Library Rep (2013 - 2015)



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. She is a core group member of the Centre for Urban Network Evolutions at Aarhus University, Denmark. Urbnet is funded as a Centre of Excellence by the Danish National Research Foundation, and seeks to explore the nature of urban formations in many parts of the ancient world.

Current projects

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

(with Dr Jeffrey Fleisher, Rice University)

This is a large scale excavation project, funded by the National Science Foundation (US) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK). Stephanie's work at the site looks in particular at domestic space, investigating the ways that stone and mud houses 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.

The spatial dynamics of the Swahili coast: applying GIS to research and education

(with Dr Thomas Biginagwa, University of Dar es Salaam)

This British Academy-funded project seeks to build a new understanding of the East African coastal past through GIS modelling of the coastal region. The project is a collaboration with the University of Dar es Salaam, and the University of Cape Town. We are building a comprehensive database of known sites for the Swahili past, to be housed at a GIS hub at the University of Dar es Salaam and to act as a resource for researchers in the region. In the process, we are exploring what insights can be gained from exploring the Swahili past spatially.


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



Stephanie is currently on secondment from York, having been awarded a Pro Futura Scientia research fellowship. Her teaching is therefore suspended.

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