Tom Fitton

Associate Lecturer in Archaeology


Tom is an Africanist archaeologist, with a particular interest in the early medieval settlements and maritime activity of the East African Swahili Coast.

After graduating with a BA Archaeology at the University of Southampton in 2007, he studied landscape archaeology at Durham University under Professor Tony Wilkinson, completing his MA in 2009. Between 2009-2011 he worked as a self-employed archaeological researcher and GIS specialist with projects at Durham University and The British Museum; as a part-time geophysical surveyor for Archaeological Services Durham University; and on various fieldwork projects in the UK, France, and Kuwait.

Tom came to York in 2011 and spent two years as the Archaeology Department's Computing Officer, before he was awarded an AHRC Doctoral Studentship to start his PhD in January 2014. His thesis, on the nature of the early Swahili harbours of the Zanzibar Archipelago, was entitled Pushing the Boat Out: A study of spatial organisation and harbour spaces in the early Swahili ports of the Zanzibar Archipelago, 550-1100CE and was supervised by Dr Stephanie Wynne-Jones. Tom successfully passed his viva voce in July 2017.

Whilst Tom's research interests lie in the maritime activity and maritime cultural landscapes of East Africa, his research methodology is based on his background in landscape archaeology, remote sensing, and survey and excavation. This follows a thread dating back to his BA dissertation survey of the relict 19th century harbour of Lilstock in Somerset, and an MA dissertation on a comparative GIS survey of Early Islamic ports in the Persian Gulf.


Departmental Roles

  • Undergraduate Admissions Assistant to Dr Penny Bickle
  • Member of the External Relations Committee.


Tom's research focuses on the archaeological investigation of the uses of maritime space in Swahili coastal settlements, and the role of maritime activity in the development of Swahili culture between the late first and mid-second 1st millennia CE.


Tom teaches the Undergraduate module History and Theory of Archaeology, and the Masters module on Issues in Historical Archaeology II: Global Connections as part of the MA in Historical Archaeology. He also covers the lecture component on geophysical survey as part of the first year Field Archaeology course.



First Year

History and Theory of Archaeology

Geophysical Survey


Postgraduate Modules

Issues in Historical Archaeology II: Global Connections


Tom Profile Pic

Contact details

Tom Fitton
Department of Archaeology,
Kings Manor,
Exhibition Square,

Tel: 01904 323273