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Professor in the Department of Archaeology, Durham University

I am a specialist in the European Middle and Upper Palaeolithic, with research interests in the origins and nature of Palaeolithic art and mortuary activity, chronometry, the behaviour of the Neanderthals and Pleistocene members of our own species, and the British later Palaeolithic. After reading Ancient History and Archaeology at the University of Birmingham (BA 1991) I took an MA in Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London (1992). Subsequently my doctoral research at Cambridge focussed on lithic technology of Middle Palaeolithic Southwest France and what it revealed about Neanderthal behaviour (PhD 1999). I was Senior Archaeologist at the Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, Oxford University (1995-2001) and Research Fellow and Tutor in Archaeology and Anthropology at Keble College, Oxford (1997-2003); Lecturer (2003-7), Senior Lecturer (2007-10) and Reader (2010-12) in Palaeolithic Archaeology at Sheffield University, until I joined Durham in January 2013 as a Professor of Archaeology.

I have researched various aspects of the European Middle and Upper Palaeolithic. I've worked with numerous lithic assemblages, and on the dating of Neanderthal and early modern human remains. In 2003 I co-discovered Britain's only examples of Palaeolithic cave art at Creswell Crags in the Midlands, and since then I've directed excavations at the Crags. I've also co-directed (with Mark White) excavations in the world famous site of Kent's Cavern, and with Mark I co-wrote The British Palaeolithic (2012). In recent years I've been researching aspects of earlier Upper Palaeolithic hand stencils in the caves of France and Spain, and have collaborated on the dating of Spanish cave art, a project which has identified Europe's oldest securely dated examples of figurative and non-figurative cave art. In my book The Palaeolithic Origins of Human Burial (2011) I proposed a long-term model for the evolution of human mortuary activity, and I'm now developing ways in which to further our understanding of early human mortuary activity and ritual in general, working with primatologists on long-term models of hominoid evolutionary thanatology. I retain an interest in radiocarbon dating within the Palaeolithic, and in the Late Upper Palaeolithic of Britain. Recently, I've begun collaborating with Durham colleagues in Psychology, Charlie Heywood and Bob Kentridge on the perception of Palaeolithic art.

Study the Palaeolithic at Durham

I would warmly welcome applications from students wishing to further their knowledge of the Palaeolithic at masters level, and those interested in researching aspects of Middle and Upper Palaeolithic archaeology for the PhD. I am especially keen to supervise projects in the fields of early human mortuary activity, ritual and art. Durham is an exceptionally fertile place to study and research Palaeolithic and Mesolithic archaeology; with Mark White and Peter Rowley-Conwy we have expertise from the Lower Palaeolithic to Mesolithic, and we enjoy fruitful collaboration with various departmental colleagues working with dating methods, DNA and isotope study.

Research Interests
Archaeology of the European Middle and Upper Palaeolithic
Early evolution of human mortuary activity
Middle and Upper Palaeolithic Britain
Neanderthal extinction and the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic Transition
Palaeolithic art
Palaeolithic chronometry
Indicators of Esteem
2016: Editorial board member, World Archaeology journal:
2014: External Examiner (UG & PGT) University of Exeter:
2011: Contributed to 'Many Hands' exhibition at The Royal Society:
2010: Member of AHRC Peer Review College:
2009: Elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London:
2008: Advisory Editor, Journal of World Prehistory:
2008: Convened English Heritage and Prehistoric Society Working Group on Research and Conservation Framework for the British Palaeolithic:
2002: Advistory Editor, Before Farming:
2000: Council Member, The Prehistoric Society:


  • –present
    Professor in the Department of Archaeology, Durham University