Accessibility statement

Richard Lee

Research project

Landscape Archaeology in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia

Supervisor: Daryl Stump



This PhD will investigate the archaeology of the Kerseber valley in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia. The significance of this area is that it is a key part of the pre-Aksumite kingdom ca.900 BC and as such plays a central role in the growth of state formation there. Ideally, I would undertake an archaeological survey of the valley and apply theories of Landscape Archaeology, including phenomenological perspectives, to this previously uninvestigated area.  

The Kerseber-Debre Damo valley is the ideal location to test this innovative combination of techniques: it is topographically well defined, is proximal to the early states of Yeha (c 900-400 BC) and Aksum (400 BC – AD 500), and includes unstable landforms subject to historic and ongoing change as well as apparently highly stable landforms associated with historic churches and settlements, including the important 5th-century AD monastery of Debre Damo. The valley has not been the subject of previous surveys, but close collaboration with existing projects provides crucial context, allowing the proposed research to rapidly characterise this historic environment.


I completed my MRES Research Methods for the Humanities, at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London in 1998, following on from my BA(Hons) Egyptian Archaeology also at UCL (1997). 

Since 1995 I have worked extensively on archaeological projects in Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Ethiopia, Benin, UAE and Qatar. I also spent ten years in UK commercial archaeology in London, Birmingham and Lancaster and have worked in most English counties. I was a Project Officer at the Council for British Archaeology as part of their Engaging with the Historic Environment project (2008-10).

DJ with the York Tropica collective.

Publications, Papers and Awards

  • Lee, R. 2018.  Birnin Lafiya (S8), Birnin Lafiya (S11), In Anne Haour (ed) ‘Two Thousand Years in Dendi, Northern Benin: Archaeology, History and Memory’, p.460- 466, 498-518. Brill.
  • Lee, R. 2010. Where in the world? Qatar, Young Archaeologists magazine, British Archaeology 
  • 2009, Heldal, T., Storemyr, P., Bloxam, E., Shaw I., Lee, R. and Salem A. 2009. ‘GPS and GIS Methodology in the Mapping of Chephren’s Quarry, Upper Egypt: A Significant Tool for Documentation and Interpretation of the Site’ Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference of the Association for the Study of Marble and Other Stones in Antiquity, Thasos, Greece, September 15-20, 2003, ed. Y. Maniatis. Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique, Athens, Supplément 51 (Athens, 2009), pp.227-41.
  • Lee, R. 2009. Continuing Education: Discontinued? British Archaeology 108, Sept 2009 
  • Lee R, Longcroft A. 2009. Time out of Mind, Adults Learning, Vol 21/1, Sept 2009. 
  • Shaw I, Bloxam E, Bunbury J, Lee R, Graham A, Darnell D. 2001. Survey and excavation at the Gebel el-Asr gneiss and quartz quarries in Lower Nubia (1997-2000), Antiquity 75 33-34 
  • Shaw I, Bloxham E, Lee R. 2001. Rescuing the Chephren quarries in Wadi Tushka, Egypt, Egyptian Archaeology 23, EES
  • 2001- 2008 numerous grey literature reports of excavation and survey across England. Too many to mention !


Teaching and Impact

  • University of York, Dept of Archaeology: Graduate Teaching Advisor Sept 2020 – Field Archaeology 
  • Centre for Lifelong Learning, University of York: 2009- 2011, 2003 – 2004. Designing and teaching curriculum for part-time Egyptian & Middle Eastern Archaeology course; creating curriculum & audio/visual components of VLE distance learning course Online Archaeology using Blackboard; Board of Studies non-accredited tutor representative (2008-10). 
  • University of Leeds, Centre for Lifelong Learning: Designing curriculum and teaching accredited Egyptian Archaeology course (2004/5).

Profile Picture PGR student Lee

Contact details

Richard Lee
Department of Archaeology (Office K/G65)
University of York
The King's Manor

Tel: (44) 1904 433931