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Geoff Bailey
Anniversary Professor of Archaeology (Emeritus)



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.

See also project websites:



2020-present, Professor of Archaeology, University of York

2020-present, Professor of Archaeology, Flinders University, Australia (honorary)

2017-2020 Visiting Professor of Archaeology, Flinders University, Australia

2016-present, Anniversary Professor of Archaeology Emeritus, University of York

2004-2016 Anniversary Professor of Archaeology, University of York 

1996-2004 Professor of Archaeology and Head of Department, University of Newcastle upon Tyne

1990-1996 Senior Tutor, Clare Hall, Cambridge

1981-1996 Lecturer, Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge

1976-1981 Assistant Lecturer, Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge

1974-1976 British Academy Research Fellow (Early History of Agriculture Project), University of Cambridge


Elections, Prizes, Fellowships, Named Lectures

2020 European Archaeological Heritage Prize (honorary mention for SPLASHCOS) 

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 a non-Arabic language

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

Departmental roles


Earlier History

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 Western 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, DISPERSESPLASHCOS 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.

Recent Publications (selection)


2020. Bailey G, Galanidou N, Peeters H, Joens H, Mennenga M (eds). The Archaeology of Europe’s Drowned Landscapes. Springer Cham. Open Access

2018. Bailey GN, Alsharekh AM (eds). 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

2017. Bailey GN, Harff J, Sakellariou D (eds). Under the Sea: Archaeology and Palaeolandscapes of the Continental Shelf. Springer, Cham, ix+436 pp

2017. Flemming N, Harff J, Moura D, Burgess A, Bailey GN (eds). Submerged Landscapes of the European Continental Shelf: Quaternary Paleoenvironments. Wiley Blackwell, Chichester, xvi+533 pp

2014. Alsharekh AM, Bailey GN (eds). Coastal Prehistory in Southwest Arabia and the Farasan Islands: 2004–2009 Field Investigations.  Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, Riyadh, v+215 pp

2010. Bailey GN, Spikins P (eds) (1st ed 2008). Mesolithic Europe. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, xi+479 pp


2021. Hardy K, Bailey G. Coastal prehistory and submerged landscapes: molluscan resources, shell-midden formation and underwater investigations. Quaternary International.

2021. Cook Hale J, Benjamin J, Woo K, Astrup PM, McCarthy J, Hale N, Stankiewicz F, Wiseman C, Skriver C, Garrison E, Ulm S, Bailey G. Quaternary Science Reviews. Submerged landscapes, marine transgression and underwater shell middens: comparative analysis of site formation and taphonomy in Europe and North America.

2021. Astrup PM, Benjamin J, Stankiewicz F, Woo K, McCarthy J, Wiseman C, Baggaley P, Jerbić K, Fowler M, Skriver C, Bailey G. A drowned Mesolithic shell-midden complex at Hjarnø Vesterhoved, Denmark and its wider significance. Quaternary Science Reviews. 

2020. Benjamin J, O’Leary M, McDonald J, Wiseman C, McCarthy J, Beckett E, Stankiewicz F, Leach J, Hacker J, Baggaley P, Jerbić K, Fowler M, Morrison P, Jeffries P, Ulm S, Bailey G. Aboriginal artefacts on the continental shelf reveal ancient drowned cultural landscapes in northwest Australia. PLoS ONE 15(7): e0233912

2019. 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

2015. 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 382: 42–57.


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 

  • 2017–2020 The Deep History of Sea Country: Climate, Sea Level and Culture 2017–2020, funded by the Australian Research Council Discovery Projects Program, with Jonathan Benjamin (Flinders University), Sean Ulm (James Cook University), Peter Veth (University of Western Australia), Jorg Hacker (Flinders University), Michael O’Leary (University of Western Australia), Jo McDonald (University of Western Australia) and Mads Holst (Aarhus University). 
  • 2011–2013 Enhancing Cultural Heritage for Mining Operations, with Patricia Fanning (Macquarie University), Simon Holdaway (University of Auckland), and Justin Shiner (Rio Tinto Alcan), funded by the Australian Research Council Linkage Projects Program and Rio Tinto Alcan Proprietary Limited
  • 2011–2013 Climatic Change and Coastal Settlement in Northern Spain, funded by the Royal Society (Newton International Fellowship, with Igor Gutierrez Zugasti)

Research group(s)

See project websites for further details


See project websites for further details


See project websites for further details


Recent PhD students


External activities



Editorial duties

Membership of Editorial Boards:

Invited talks and conferences

International and Keynote Lectures

  • 2018  Europa Lecture, University of York, UK
  • 2016  Opening speaker, International Conference on the Red Sea, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  • 2016  Hood Fellowship Lecture, University of Auckland, New Zealand
  • 2016. Auckland Museum, New Zealand
  • 2016. University of Sydney, Australia
  • 2016  University of Athens, Greece
  • 2015  Istituto di Scienze Marine, Bologna, Italy
  • 2014  Saudi Geological Survey, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  • 2014  Opening Lecture at the SeArch Project, Bruges, Belgium
  • 2014, Calpe conference.Gibraltar 
  • 2014  National Conference Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
  • 2012  Fu Ssu-nien memorial lectures, Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica, Taiwan
  • 2011  Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Athens
  • 2011  UNESCO Scientific Colloquium on Factors Impacting Underwater Cultural Heritage, Brussels
  • 2011  Centre for Underwater Archaeology, Ahtopol, Bulgaria.
  • 2010  IGCP 521-INQUA 501 Black Sea-Mediterranean Corridor during the Last 30 ky, Rhodes, Greece. Plenary
  • 2009  Association of Australian Archaeologists Annual Conference, Adelaide, Australia. Plenary speaker
  • 2009  European Association of Archaeology Annual Conference, Riva del Garda, Italy. Session keynote 
  • 2008  First International Workshop on Prehistoric Research in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
  • 2007  Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, France. Advanced Seminar.
  • 2004  King AbdulAziz University, Jeddah
  • 2003  Nara Cultural Properties Research Institute, Japan, Universities of Okayama, Sendai and Tokyo
  • 2002  King Saud University, Riyadh

Conference Organisation

  • 2017. Lost and Future Worlds: Marine Palaeolandscapes and the Historic Impact of Long-Term Climate change. Royal Society of London. Theo-Murphy International Scientific Meeting, Chichely Hall, UK, with Vince Gaffney.
  • 2013. Diversity and Dynamics in the Human-Sea Relation. Trondheim, Norway, 2–7 October 2013. Marine Ventures International Symposium, 2013 (Member of Scientific Committee).
  • 2013. Under the Sea: Archaeology and Palaeolandscapes. SPLASHCOS final open conference. University of Szczecin, Poland. (23–27 September, co-organiser with Jan Harff, Andrzej Witkowski and others.
  • 2013. Offshore Industry and Archaeology: a Creative Relationship. SPLASHCOS open meeting. University of Southern Denmark and the Offshore Center, Esbjerg, Denmark (14–16 March, coorganiser with Thijs Maarleveld).  
  • 2012. SPLASHCOS: Progress Meeting and Workshop on Sea-Level Change. University of Rome 'La Sapienza' (26–28 September, coorganiser with Francesco Latino Chiocci)
  • 2012. Geology and Archaeology: Submerged Landscapes of the Continental Shelf. Symposium 3.2 of the 34th International Geological Congress, Brisbane, Australia (5–10 August, coorganiser with Jan Harff and Friedrich Lüth).
  • 2012. SPLASHCOS: Research Funding and Planning, Netherlands Cultural Heritage Agency, Amersfoort, the Netherlands (24-25 April, coorganiser with Henk Weerts)
  • 2011. SPLASHCOS: Progress Meeting. University of Zadar, Croatia (3–4 October 2011, coorganiser with Irena Radic Rossi)
  • 2011. SPLASHCOS: Archaeological and Geoscientific Approaches to Submerged Landscapes. Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Berlin (11–12 April, coorganiser with Friedrich Lüth), 
  • 2010. SPLASHCOS: Review and Research Planning. Hydrobiological Station of Rhodes, Greece (4–5 October, co-organiser with Dimitris Sakellariou)
  • 2010. SPLASHCOS: Introductory Meeting and Overview. York (10–11 March, organiser) 
  • 2009. SPLASHCOS: Kick-off Meeting. Brussels (4 November)
  • 2008. Shell Energy: Prehistoric Coastal Resource Strategies. International workshop, Dakar, Senegal (coorganiser with Karen Hardy and Abdoulaye Camara) 

Media coverage

Auckland March 2016

Contact details

Professor Geoff Bailey
Department of Archaeology
University of York
The King's Manor

Tel: (44) 1904 323917