Head of Department Julian Richards and Vice Chancellor Brian Cantor receiving the Queen's Anniversary Prize from the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

Recognized for  Excellence and Innovation in Research


A world leading centre for Bioarchaeology

The excavation at Gawthorpe Hall

One of the most specialized centres for Medieval and Historical Archaeology in Britain

Diving in Saudi

Searching for underwater evidence of the spread of humans along ancient coastal routeways

Fifteenth century interior digitally rendered

Vanguard of work concerned with Archaeological Information Systems

InterArChive logo

Developing multidisciplinary approaches to European Research Council funded projects

York is one of the leading research departments in the UK, ranked 4th overall in the recent Research Excellence Framework and 2nd for research impact. In 2011 the department  was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in recognition of our research and teaching excellence.

Sicily in Transition AD 600-1200

Sicily Column 320x120

The Departments of Archaeology at York and the University of Rome 2, Tor Vergata, began a joint research project in 2014 investigating Sicily in Transition, from AD600-1200 (Byzantine-Arabic-Norman), with special focus on changes in social structure, agriculture and trade. The SICTRANSIT project has recently received funding from the European Research Council for a 5-year programme of research continuing the exploration of the archaeology of regime change on this pivotal island. The project is directed by Dr Alessandra Molinari (Rome) and Professor Martin Carver (York) with the collaboration of Dr Girolamo Fiorentino (Salento) and the support of Stefano Vassallo of the Soprintendenza per i Beni Culturali e Ambientali di Palermo. The project is grateful to the Mayor, Commune and people of Castronovo for their warm and valued support.

The Viking Great Army at Torksey

Torksey is widely known as a Viking winter camp from an entry in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for AD 872. The aim of the project is to understand the role and significance of the site by plotting the chronological and spatial development of the various centres of activity.  These include a putative Anglo-Saxon riverine ‘beach market’, the Viking winter encampment and wider trading site, the Anglo-Scandinavian burh and the Torksey ware kilns. The project has major implications for wider understanding of the Viking Great Army and its interaction with local populations, the development of Anglo-Saxon burhs, and the evolving nature of trade and industry in the early medieval period. The project is co-directed by Professor Julian Richards (York) and Professor Dawn Hadley (Sheffield).


ARCHSCI2020 is a new European Joint Doctoral Training Site funded by the EC Horizon 2020 Marie SkÅ‚odowska-Curie Actions. A collaborative network between York, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Groningen, ArchSci2020 offers the first European Joint Doctorates in Archaeological Sciences. ArchSci2020 researchers will be exceptionally well supported by world-class facilities and expertise (including a raft of specialist courses) in so-called ‘omics technologies (e.g. genomics, metagenomics, metabolomics, proteomics), across all four ArchSci2020 partners. The combined strength of ‘omic technologies across ArchSci2020 is unrivalled, and represents a critical mass of technology and training of truly global standing. The project is directed by Professor Matthew Collins.


ARIADNE (Advanced Research Infrastructure for Archaeological Dataset Networking) brings together and integrates existing research data infrastructures so that researchers can use the various distributed datasets and new and powerful technologies as an integral component of the archaeological research methodology. Ariadne will enable trans-national access of researchers to data centres, tools and guidance, and the creation of new Web-based services based on common interfaces to data repositories, availability of reference datasets and usage of innovative technologies. It will stimulate new research avenues, relying on the comparison, re-use and integration into current research of the outcomes of past and on-going field and laboratory activity.


‌Modern-day southwestern Saudi Arabia stands at the crossroads of prehistory. Over the last 2 million years, multiple generations of our ancestors have occupied this now-desert region, expanding across its landscape to eventually spread across the entire globe. SURFACE is a new project funded under the EC Horizon 2020 Marie-Sklodowska Curie Action investigating the surface archaeological record of this region. Combining archaeology, geomorphology and remote sensing, the project seeks to develop new approaches to the analysis of the distribution of surface artefacts in arid landscapes and to use these approaches to explore models of human-landscape interactions in Palaeolithic Arabia and their implications for global dispersal of hominin populations.


What can the archaeological and ethnohistorical records tell us about the way people adapt their health beliefs and attitudes to illness in the face of war, dislocation and persecution? ‘MEDICINE’ is a new project funded under the EC Horizon 2020 Marie-Sklodowska Curie Action. In collaboration with the Universidad San Francisco de Quito, the project focuses on the Andean region where indigenous communities reflect descendants of pre-Columbian Amerindian peoples who experienced the cultural trauma of the conquest by Spain in the 16th century, and of a series of subsequent major impacts of disease, miscegenation, and religious persecution. The project willgenerate new approaches to model how people survive and adapt their traditional belief systems in a context of alien cultural impacts.

The ancestry of human emotions


All too often violence, conflict and aggression in our distant past receive by far the greatest academic and media attention and the question of when, where and how our emotional strengths emerged has thus been largely disregarded. The evidence for sharing, caring for the vulnerable, courage and self-control however is in fact far more extensive in the archaeological record than that for violence. Our distant ancestors were courageous on behalf on others, showed self-control, kindness and compassion, and protected themselves from the risks in their environments through using tolerance and gratitude to forge links with people they differed from and rarely met. This new project, funded by the John Templeton Foundation, aims to redress the balance of research and explore the question of the emergence of positive human emotions, at a time when such evidence seems to be much needed in modern society.  


The research team has won a €1.5 million grant from the European Research Council to develop a high-resolution approach to understanding how hunter-gatherers adapted to climatic and environmental change between 10,000 and 8,000 BC at Star Carr in North Yorkshire. In 2012 the team discovered Britain's earliest surviving house. The house dates to at least 9,000 BC, when Britain was part of continental Europe. The team also excavated a well preserved 11,000 year-old tree trunk with its bark still intact and the earliest evidence of carpentry in Europe.

Human-Chicken interactions

Human Chicken interactions brings together researchers from a wide range of countries and disciplines to examine the social, cultural and environmental impact of this important but under-researched species. Chickens (also known as 'domestic fowl') are native to South East Asia but, today, they have a worldwide distribution. Their diffusion is almost entirely due to human-assisted transportation and, as such, their natural history is a reflection of human history. Considerable attention has been given to charting the chicken’s eastward spread from Asia, through the Pacific islands to the Americas; however, the species’ diffusion to the west, through India, the Near East, Mediterranean and northern Europe, has been almost completely neglected.


 'Can archaeological enquires contribute to assessments of long-term sustainability and thereby inform policies applied to agricultural systems today?’ 

AAREA (Archaeology of Agricultural Resilience in Eastern Africa) is a multidisciplinary ERC-funded project focused on two historical agriculture settlements, Engaruka in Tanzania, and Konso in Ethiopia, which have both utilised similar, highly visible terracing and irrigation systems, dating to between at least the 14th and 18th centuries AD at Engaruka, and in use for perhaps four hundred years at Konso. By bringing together the disciplines of geoarchaeology, archaeobotany and agent-based modelling this project it looking to answer overarching questions around sustainability and how archaeological data can inform policy. 



All of our research is subject to ethics approval, please see our ethics, code of practice page for more details.

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