Excavation at the Roche des Poignards Rock Art site

Prehistory & Human Evolution


Research in Prehistory & Human Evolution at York takes us from our primate ancestors to the emergence of the first states. Our work around the world drives debate about early hominid evolution, colonization and cognition, about landscape and the environment, and about material culture and identity.

At York, we place a particular emphasis upon the development and application of innovative analytical technologies to major archaeological questions; from Palaeolithic art and the perception of landscape to domestication and the prehistory of cuisine. 

York also specialises in Coastal Prehistory and in 2002 Geoff Bailey and colleagues began three projects to develop new methods and acquire new information about the nature of early coastlines and human use of coastal and marine resources. These early projects have since led to further world-leading research investigating prehistoric coastlines and coastal settlement though excavation of coastal archaeological sites, investment in new methods of palaeodietary analysis, and with increasing emphasis, the exploration of the now submerged landscapes that were drowned by sea level rise at the end of the last glacial period.


  • Geoff Bailey
  • Penny Bickle's main focus of research is Neolithic Europe. Working at the intersection of science and theoretical archaeology, she applies bioarchaeological methods to various sites and time periods to inform on issues of identity and social diversity among the early farming groups.
  • Sam Cobb
  • Matthew Collins
  • Phil Cox
  • Oliver Craig
  • Mark Edmonds
  • Laura Fitton
  • Dr Don Henson is interested in public engagement with the past, the relevance of the past for present-day issues and in British/European prehistory. He also has a background in heritage education and community engagement
    with heritage. His most recent research has been into the communication of the Mesolithic period in Britain to non-academic audiences across a range of print and digital media, and in museums.
  • Nicky Milner
  • Terry O'Connor
  • Paul O'Higgins’ principal interests concern the links between skeletal variation, function, evolution and development. Ongoing projects are examining how dietary changes in the past have affected our jaws and how skeletal form is adapted to the lifestyles of past and present populations.
  • Kirsty Penkman
  • Penny Spikins
  • Kevin Walsh

Research Projects


Coastal Prehistory

Key Contacts

Alumni: Stay in touch