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I took my undergraduate and postgraduate training in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge, specialising in prehistory and bioarchaeology (BA 1970, MA 1974, PhD 1976).
In Cambridge, I stayed on after my PhD as Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University Lecturer and Senior Tutor of my College (Clare Hall) until 1996, when I moved to be Chair and Head of Department of Archaeology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.
In 2004 I moved to take up my present position at the University of York as the holder of a new Anniversary Chair created to mark the University's 40th anniversary.
I am primarily a field archaeologist, with experience in many parts of the world, across Africa, the Americas, Australia, Europe, the Far East and SW Asia, and have led major projects in Australia, Greece, Saudi Arabia and the UK, with particular interests in coastal prehistory and the evolution of terrestrial landscapes.
In the past decade I have combined these interests in the exploration of the submerged landscapes of the continental shelf, which made available as much as 20 million square kilometres of new territory during the periods of low sea-level that have persisted for most of human history on this planet, research which is now emerging as a new and pioneer field of archaeological investigation.
I have run field projects on these themes in many parts of the world and have currently active fieldwork interests and engagement in the Arabian Peninsula, Australia, East Africa, and various parts of Europe.
These projects have led me to work across the boundaries between Archaeology and the Life, Earth and Marine Sciences, and to engage in collaborative projects with many specialists across a wide intellectual spectrum both in the field, in the laboratory, and in the development of interpretive models.
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2017 Visiting Professor of Archaeology, Flinders University, Australia
2004 Anniversary Professor of Archaeology, University of York (Emeritus 2016)
1996 Professor of Archaeology and Head of Department, University of Newcastle upon Tyne
1990 Senior Tutor, Clare Hall, Cambridge
1981 Lecturer, Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge
1976 Assistant Lecturer, Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge
1974 British Academy Research Fellow (Early History of Agriculture Project), University of Cambridge
Elections, Prizes, Fellowships, Named Lectures
2018 Europa Prize and Lecture, Prehistoric Society, UK
2017 Elected Corresponding Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities (FAHA)
2017 King AbdulAziz Prize for a book on Saudi Arabia in non-Arabic languages
2017 Norman Tindale Memorial Lecture, South Australian Museum
2016 Visiting Fellowship, Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich, Germany
2016 Sir John Hood Fellowship, University of Auckland, New Zealand
2014 Elected Member of the Academia Europaea (MAE)
2012 Fu Ssu-nien Memorial Lectures, Academic Sinica, Republic of China
2010 Elected Corresponding Member of the German Archaeological Institute (Römisch-Germanische Kommission, DAI)
2007 Antiquity Prize for best paper published in Antiquity Journal
2006 British Archaeology Awards in the Channel 4 IT category
2001 Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellow, University of Newcastle upon Tyne
1997 Elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne
1992 Sir Robert Menzies Trust Australian Bicentennial Fellow, Australian National University
1989 Elected Fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge (Life Fellow 1996)
1987 Elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (FSA)
1986 Elected Member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (MCIfA)
1986 Leverhulme Trust Research Fellow, University of Cambridge
1971 Royal Society Leverhulme Trust Award for Overseas Research, University of Sydney. Australia
1970 Major State Studentship for Postgraduate Research, University of Cambridge
1967 Open Scholarship in Classics, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
I was born and brought up in London, in the featureless suburb of Ilford, which lies on the eastern borderland between the great metropolis and rural Essex, where one was constantly beckoned towards a more exciting world beyond the immediate horizon. It was later renamed Redbridge, a fact that I am reminded of whenever I use the London Underground and look at the map of the Central Line heading East.
When I was 10, my family moved to Bristol, and I spent my teenage years at Bristol Grammar School and came to know a very different part of England, with some of the finest and most varied landscapes in the country on all sides of a great city with a colourful maritime history, and a very fine combination of Georgian architecture and the Downs and its green spaces overlooking the Avon Gorge and Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Clifton Suspension Bridge.
As I prepared to go to University, my family returned to the London area, and I went on a year of travels before going up to Cambridge, where I had been offered a College Scholarship largely on the strength of my ability to translate the second leader of the Times editorial into Latin prose and to compose Greek verse.
My archaeological interests have a mixed genealogy, an early enthusiasm for solving jigsaw puzzles and making clay models of dinosaurs almost before I could read and write, regular cycling trips during my Bristol years into the surrounding countryside in search of geological and archaeological sites – most memorably the Triassic fossils at Aust Cliff on the River Severn, the caves of Cheddar Gorge and the Iron Age hillforts of Somerset – a sixth-form specialisation in Ancient History and Classical languages, which offered an entry into a different universe beyond the seemingly rather claustrophobic confines of the modern world, and a youthful interest in human evolution and the writings of Charles Darwin.
In 1967, before going up to University, I invited myself onto a Palaeolithic cave excavation in northern Greece with Eric Higgs, after seeing a BBC television programme 'The Springs of St. George' about his work. This, I thought, would be a good way of hitching a ride to see some of the places I had learned about in my classical education, and also of discovering if archaeology involved anything more than the study of rather dull and dusty objects and holes in the ground – social anthropology was then my first choice of University subject. That experience opened up a new vista of different ideas, peoples, times and places, which has informed my world view, interests and career ever since.
In Cambridge, I stayed for 29 years, as Undergraduate, Research Student, Research Fellow, University Lecturer, College Fellow, and College Senior Tutor, except for spells of overseas fieldwork including a year in Australia during my PhD research, until I decided it was time to take up a new challenge, moving to the Chair of Archaeology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1996.
Newcastle is a distinctive northern city with its own proud traditions and identity, reminding me of my Bristol days with its unique city-scape and Town Moor, its Tyne bridges marking a famous history of engineering invention associated with the names of Stephenson and Armstrong, and its magnificent countryside on every hand including the hidden gem of the Northumberland coast. In 2004 I moved to take up my present position at the University of York but Newcastle continues to be my home base.
I have world-wide interests in the evolution of terrestrial landscapes and the ways in which geological instabilities resulting from sea-level change and active tectonics at plate margins and in rifts have shaped human lives, livelihoods and long-term social and evolutionary trajectories.
I have particular interests in coastal prehistory, in mounded shell middens, which occur in their hundreds of thousands around the coastlines of the world as the most visible archaeological expression of past coastal settlement, in the biomolecular analysis of marine mollusc shells for information on palaeodiet and palaeoclimate, in the relationship between coastal archaeology and changes in sea-level and coastal geomorphology, and in the contribution of coastal environments and marine resources to developments in world prehistory.
These interests have led me on an intellectual and fieldwork Odyssey from the Mesolithic shell mounds of NW Europe to those of tropical Australia, to excavation of Palaeolithic caves in the mountains of NW Greece, to an interest in the role of active tectonics in shaping human landscapes in the Mediterranean, the Near East and Africa, to explorations of Palaeolithic archaeology, shell mounds and submerged landscapes in SW Arabia and the Farasan Islands of the southern Red Sea, and most recently to underwater research in Westsern Australia and Denmark.
I have co-ordinated or co-directed major field projects on these themes, notably the Klithi Project, the Africa-Arabia Connections and Southern Red Sea Projects, the Howick and Northumberland Rock Art Projects, Coastal Shell Middens and Agricultural Origins in NW Europe, the EU-funded SPLASHCOS and DISPERSE projects, and the Weipa shell mounds and DHSC projects in Australia
These projects have given me considerable experience of and insight into the problems of integrating long-term archaeological, geological, palaeoenvironmental and palaeoclimatic records within a spatial and geographical framework, and the challenges of mounting large-scale research programmes that facilitate international and interdisciplinary collaboration, especially across the science-humanities boundary.
This in turn has led me into a deeper interest in archaeological theories of time and the influence of time scale, time resolution and time perspective on archaeological data, observations and interpretation, the nature of the relationship between what we call the 'present' and the 'past', and the relationship between archaeology and other historical and scientific disciplines.
My most recent projects, DISPERSE, SPLASHCOS and DHSC, have focussed on the archaeology of submerged landscapes. As Chairman of EU COST Action TD0902 SPLASHCOS, I oversaw a pan-European network which has brought together archaeologists, marine geoscientists, heritage managers and industrial interests from across Europe to promote research and training on the submerged landscapes of the continental shelf, their importance in the larger picture of world prehistory, their potential for providing new information about sea-level change and its past and future human impact, and the need to better manage the underwater cultural heritage in the face of rapidly expanding natural and man-made threats to its survival.
Bailey G, Galanidou N, Peeters H, Joens H, Mennenga M (eds) 2020. The Archaeology of Europe’s Drowned Landscapes. Springer Cham. Open Access
Bailey GN, Alsharekh AM (eds) 2018. Palaeolithic Archaeology, Coastal Prehistory and Submerged Landscapes in Southwest Saudi Arabia and the Farasan Islands: DISPERSE Field Reports, 2012–2015. Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, Riyadh. 320 pp
Bailey GN, Harff J, Sakellariou D (eds) 2017. Under the Sea: Archaeology and Palaeolandscapes of the Continental Shelf. Springer, Cham, ix+436 pp
Flemming N, Harff J, Moura D, Burgess A, Bailey GN (eds) 2017. Submerged Landscapes of the European Continental Shelf: Quaternary Paleoenvironments. Wiley Blackwell, Chichester, xvi+533 pp
Alsharekh AM, Bailey GN (eds). 2014. Coastal Prehistory in Southwest Arabia and the Farasan Islands: 2004–2009 Field Investigations. Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, Riyadh, v+215 pp
Bailey GN, Spikins P (eds). 2008 (2nd ed 2010). Mesolithic Europe. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, xi+479 pp.
Bailey GN (ed) 1997. Klithi: Palaeolithic Settlement and Quaternary Landscapes in Northwest Greece: 2 vols. McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge, xxxii+682 pp
Bailey GN, Parkington JE (eds). 1988 (Re-printed 2009). The Archaeology of Prehistoric Coastlines. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, vi +148 pp
Astrup, P.M., Skriver C, Benjamin, J., Ward, I., Stankewicz, F., Ross, P., McCarthy, J., Baggaley, P., Ulm, S., Bailey, G. Underwater shell middens: Excavation and remote sensing of a submerged Mesolithic site at Hjarnø, Denmark. Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology. DOI: 10.1080/15564894.2019.1584135
Bailey GN, Devès MH, Inglis RH, et al. 2015. Blue Arabia: Palaeolithic and underwater survey in SW Saudi Arabia and the role of coasts in Pleistocene dispersal. Quaternary International 282:42–57
Bailey GN, Reynolds SC, King GCP. 2011. Landscapes of human evolution: models and methods of tectonic geomorphology and the reconstruction of hominin landscapes. Journal of Human Evolution 60 (3):257–80
Bailey GN, Galanidou N. 2009. Caves, palimpsests and dwelling spaces: examples from the Upper Palaeolithic of south-east Europe. World Archaeology 41 (2):215–24
Bailey GN, Flemming N. 2008. Archaeology of the continental shelf: marine resources, submerged landscapes and underwater archaeology. Quaternary Science Reviews 27:2153–65
Bailey GN 2007. Time perspectives, palimpsests and the archaeology of time. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 26:198–223
King GCP, Bailey GN 2006. Tectonics and human evolution. Antiquity 80:265–86. (Winner of the Antiquity prize for best paper).
Milner N, Craig OE, Bailey GN, et al. 2004. Something fishy in the Neolithic? A re-evaluation of stable isotope analysis of Mesolithic and Neolithic coastal populations. Antiquity 78:9–22
Recent projects are listed below. For additional details of my research activities, click on 'View my profile in the York Research Database' at the top of this page
See project websites for further details
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