Dr Steve Mills
Senior Lecturer in IT Applications
While at Cardiff I have continued to develop my research into the significance of sound in the past with case studies in Romania, Turkey and the UK. This research has resulted in the book Auditory archaeology: understanding sound and hearing in the past (Mills 2014). I also participate in research on the Neolithic of south-east Europe and provide contributions to a number of projects through surveying and the application of Geographical Information Systems (GIS). I have been able to integrate my research into my teaching and supervision of archaeology and history students with a particular focus on the application of IT, spatial technologies and GIS.
An approach that studies the important influence and significance of the sound environment in past daily life. Auditory archaeology was developed as a set of techniques and principles during AHRB-funded doctoral research in the Teleorman River Valley Neolithic landscape, Romania. The approach has been applied at Çatalhöyük, Turkey, a Neolithic settlement tell in a different landscape setting to the Romanian case study and which benefits from the presence of excavated and reconstructed prehistoric buildings. Research within a post-medieval (1750 - 1900 AD) mining landscape in Cornwall applies the techniques developed in auditory archaeology in the existing framework and context of Historic Landscape Characterisation developed by English Heritage.
My book Auditory archaeology: understanding sound and hearing in the past (2014 Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press) develops these themes and provides a flexible and widely applicable set of elements that can be adapted for use in a broad range of archaeological and heritage contexts. The outputs of this research form the case studies of the Teleorman River Valley, Çatalhöyük, and West Penwith. This volume will help archaeologists and others studying human sensory experiences in the past and present.
Neolithic of south-east Europe
Southern Romania Archaeological Project (SRAP 1998-2011). A multi-disciplinary, international collaboration to examine trends in Neolithic and Eneolithic (6000-3600 BC) land-use, settlement patterns and river dynamics centred on Măgura village in the Teleorman River Valley, 85 km southwest of Bucureşti, Romania.
Drawing on SRAP research, the EU funded Măgura Past & Present project used artistic and scientific interventions, exhibitions, workshops, conferences, publications and a website to integrate the local community, artists and scientists in the research, presentation and promotion of Măgura's heritage.
A new phase of research (2016-present, with Dr Mirea, Teleorman County Museum and Professor Macklin, University of Lincoln) within the Lower Danube valley, Romania, examines the environmental contexts of human-river interactions during the period of transformation from hunter-gatherer (Mesolithic) to farming communities (Neolithic) at around 6100 BC. Preliminary fieldwork has identified surface scatters of worked flint of probable Mesolithic date and early Neolithic material culture (flint and pottery) in close proximity that may provide evidence for local continuity during the Mesolithic-Neolithic transformation.
Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
The application of GIS to surveyed and excavated archaeological features that integrates field, laboratory and post-excavation data. This provides an integrated computer environment that can be used to analyse, interpret and disseminate the spatial relationships prevalent in the varied data-sets generated during archaeological field projects.
- Art Landscape Transformations
- Early to mid-Holocene human-river interactions in the Lower Danube
- Lyonesse Project
- Southern Romania Archaeological Project (SRAP)
- The Catacombs of Anubis
- Views of an Antique Land: Imaging Egypt and Palestine in the First World War
Impact and engagement
Principal Investigator, with Professor Douglass Bailey, of the EU funded Măgura Past & Present project 2008-2011. The project produced new museum exhibitions and works of art to promote and present the heritage of Măgura village, southern Romania, for the benefit of local, national and international audiences. Invited artists used new research data on Early Neolithic farmers discovered around Măgura as inspiration to produce original pieces for exhibition in the regional museum and to run workshops in the village school. These activities transformed local community and artists' perceptions of the significance and value of Măgura's heritage.
The current HLF-funded Views of an Antique Land project focusses on collecting and making accessible images of Egypt and Palestine as they would have been seen by people during the First World War. We are collecting and digitising photographs taken by service personnel, postcards, lantern slides and stereo-views and making them available via an interactive website. This will provide a resource for anyone interested in seeing what their ancestors saw, or who is interested in how the ancient monuments, cities, towns and villages looked during the First World War. We are also contributing content to workshops at a number of schools in south Wales to help further understanding of the experiences of people during the First World War.
Education and qualifications
- 2002: PhD Archaeology Cardiff University - (thesis entitled – The significance of sound in 5th millennium BC southern Romania)
- 1998: MA Archaeology Cardiff University (distinction)
- 1997: BA Archaeology Cardiff University (first class honours)
- 2003-present Member of staff in the Cardiff School of History, Archaeology and Religion (Junior Research Fellow until October 2006; Lecturer to July 2016; Senior Lecturer from August 2016)
- 2001-2003 GIS mapper Historic Environment Section, Cornwall County Council working as a team member on two projects: The Cornish Mining World Heritage Site Bid (now inscribed) and the Cornwall and Scilly Urban Survey
Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London
- 2017: Views of an Antique Land: imaging Egypt and Palestine in the First World War. Friends of the Egypt Centre Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. Fulton House, Swansea University
- 2017: Views of an Antique Land: imaging Egypt and Palestine in the First World War. Friends of Cathays Cemetery, Cardiff University
- 2017: Early to mid-Holocene human-river interactions in the Lower Danube. Conference in honour of Dragomir Popovici, Ialomiţa County Museum, Slobozia, Romania
- 2016: Views of an Antique Land: imaging Egypt and Palestine in the First World War. Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities conference, The Lowry, Salford, UK
- 2016: Views of an Antique Land: imaging Egypt and Palestine in the First World War. T.E. Lawrence Symposium, Oxford University, UK
- 2015: Walking to (a)muse: exploring senses of place with Ruth. Society for American Archaeologists conference, San Francisco, USA
- 2013: Auditory Archaeology at Çatalhöyük. Cardiff Archaeological Society, Cardiff, UK
Committees and reviewing
- 2012 - 2017: Postgraduate Tutor for Archaeology (PGT & PGR)
- 2012 - 2017: Member of Postgraduate Taught Board of Studies and Board of Examiners
- 2012 - 2017: Member of the Postgraduate Research Committee
- 2012 - 2017: Member of the Postgraduate Staff-Student Panel
- 2011 - 2017: Chair of Information Resources Working Group
- 2011 - 2015: School representative on the University Web Transformation Project
- 2011 - 2013: Member of the External Affairs Committee
- 2009 - present: School representative on the University Digital Preservation Task/Steering Group
- 2008 - present: School representative on the University Web User Group now the Web Producer’s Network
- 2008 - present: Member of the School Web Advisory Group
- 2007 - 2011: Director of Information Resources Committee
- 2007 - 2011: Member of the School Board
- 2004 - present: Web producer for School
- 2004 - present: Web author for Archaeology & Conservation
- 2003 - present: Member of the Archaeology undergraduate Board of Studies and Board of Examiners
- 2003 - present: Member of the History & Ancient History undergraduate Board of Studies and Board of Examiners
I contribute to the following Part One module:
- Discovering Archaeology - 20 credits (HS2126)
I am wholly responsible for four Part Two 10 credit modules for Ancient History and Archaeology:
- Introduction to Computing for Archaeologists and Ancient Historians - 10 credits (HS2416)
- Computer Projects for Archaeologists and Ancient Historians - 10 credits (HS2417)
- Introduction to Spatial Techniques and Technologies - 10 credits (HS2418)
- Geographic Information Systems for Archaeologists and Ancient Historians - 10 credits (HS2419)
and a 30 credit module for History (with Dr Keir Waddington):
- History & ICT: A Guided Study - 30 credits (HS1705)
I also supervise Independent Studies and Dissertations when appropriate particularly on topics that cover digital archaeology, GIS, GPS, sensory scholarship and Neolithic southeast Europe.
I am responsible for a 20 credit module for Archaeology & Conservation:
- Postgraduate skills in Archaeology & Conservation 20 credits (HST500)
I also supervise Dissertations when appropriate particularly on topics that cover digital archaeology, GIS, GPS, sensory scholarship and Neolithic southeast Europe.
- Co-Supervisor (50%) for Scott Williams - Visualising a complex visual landscape: evaluating digital technologies in the reinterpretation of late period north Saqqara (submission after 2017) SHARE scholarship
- Co-Supervisor (50%) for Rhiannon Philp - Changing tides: understanding the context of prehistoric sea level changes in south Wales (submission after 2017)
- Co-Supervisor (50%) for Neil Gunther - A GIS study of settlement patterns for the later prehistoric period, southeast Wales and the tribal area of the Silures (submission after 2018)
- Co-Supervisor (50%) for Adele Burnett - Roman forts and their landscapes (submission after 2018)
- Co-Supervisor (50%) for Sian Thomas - The South West Peninsula and the Roman World: a new interpretation of the social identity during the 1st to 4th centuries AD (submission after 2016) AHRC funded
- Co-Supervisor (50%) for Caroline Pudney – Environments of change: social identity and material culture in the Severn Estuary from the first century B.C to the second century A.D (awarded 2012)
- Co-Supervisor (20%) for Christopher Timmins – A phenomenology and GIS-based investigation into motives and priorities in siting Iron Age enclosures in Wales (awarded 2012)
- Co-Supervisor (33%) for Catherine Preston – Geology, visualization and the 1893 Hauliers' Strike: an interdisciplinary exploration (awarded 2011) Richard Whipp Scholarship
Views of an Antique Land: Imaging Egypt and Palestine in the First World War
This project is collecting and making accessible images of Egypt and Palestine as they would have been seen by people during the First World War. To mark the Centenary of the First World War, a series of roadshows in England and Wales along with the development of an interactive website are enabling a team of volunteers to acquire and interpret copies of photographs taken in Egypt and Palestine by service personnel or bought by them as postcards and which can be dated to the First World War. The volunteers are receiving training and developing skills in digital media and heritage presentation leading to a fuller interpretation of the First World War as a truly global conflict.
Exhibitions, school workshops and a conference will provide opportunities for direct public participation in their heritage. The website will be a perpetual online learning resource offering new views of archaeological sites, military installations and cities as they appeared during the war.
Funded by: Heritage Lottery Fund Our Heritage programme to the value of £50,900
Duration: 2014 - present.
Early to mid-Holocene human river interactions in the Lower Danube
A new research project within the Lower Danube valley, Romania, aims to examine the environmental contexts of human-river interactions during the period of transformation from hunter-gatherer (Mesolithic) to farming communities (Neolithic) at around 6100 BC (see Mills et al 2017). During preliminary fieldwork around the village of Poiana located within an alluvial basin of the Danube River in Teleorman County, we have identified surface scatters of worked flint of probable Mesolithic date and early Neolithic material culture (flint and pottery) in close proximity that may provide evidence for local continuity during the Mesolithic-Neolithic transformation. This may be the first evidence of Mesolithic activity to be identified along the Lower Danube valley east of the Danube Gorges and might therefore provide important new data with the potential to further our understanding of transformations in human lifeways during this key period in prehistory. In 2018 further fieldwork, including test excavations, geomorphological mapping and palaeoenvironmental sampling, is planned to build on these provisional finds with the aim of establishing the foundation for a larger research project. This project is coordinated by Dr S. Mills, Cardiff University, and Dr P. Mirea, Teleorman County Museum, with Prof M. Macklin, University of Lincoln.
Joseph Anderson 150 Community Archaeology Project
The Anderson 150 project is a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the commencement of archaeological investigations in the Yarrows landscape, Caithness, Scotland, by the eminent antiquarian Joseph Anderson. The project involves small-scale community excavation, workshops with children from local primary schools and an annual prehistoric festival, and aims to raise local and national awareness of the heritage of the Yarrows area and train both children and adults in new heritage skills. The project is a collaboration between the University of Glasgow, Cardiff University, Northlight Heritage, the Yarrows Heritage Trust, Venture North and Northshore Pottery.
Funded by: the E.ON Camster Community Fund supported by Foundation Scotland, Eneco, Scottish Book Foundation and Venture North to the value of £32,800
Duration: 2015 - 2016
Art Landscape Transformations
A pan-European project on landscape, art and heritage consisting of ten partners and funded by the European Commission. The Cardiff partner project is centred around the Romanian village of Magura and, through the process of scientific and artistic interventions, will gain new insight into the relationships that different groups of people (past/present; local/foreign; academic/lay) have with their physical environment and associated archaeology.
Funded by: European Union’s Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency Culture Programme (2007-13) to the value of £108,000
Duration: 2008 - 2011
Southern Romania Archaeological Project (SRAP)
This project studied the emergence and environmental context of sedentism in Southern Romania c. 6500-4000BC to refine and broaden our understanding of long-term patterns of land use and settlement in southeastern Europe.
Funded by: the British Academy, the Society of Antiquaries of London and Teleorman County Council, and its value is £50,000
Duration: 1998 - 2011
The Catacombs of Anubis
The Catacombs of the canine god Anubis are located to the north-east of the Step Pyramid at Saqqara, Egypt. This project directed by Dr. Paul Nicholson with survey coordinated by Dr Steve Mills in association with the Egypt Exploration Society is making a new, large scale, plan of the monument, examining the geology of the catacomb and investigating the mummies.
Funded by: National Geographic, Cardiff University and the Thames Valley Ancient Egypt Society
Duration: 2009 - present
Lyonesse Project: evolution of coastal and marine environments in Scilly
The Isles of Scilly contain wide expanses of shallow sub-tidal and intertidal environments flooded by rising relative sea levels during the late Holocene. It has long been known that the islands in their current form are a result of past marine transgressions that flooded early sites. The archipelago is therefore a valuable laboratory for studying continual sea level rises within an historical context. The Lyonesse Project aims to reconstruct the evolution of the physical environment of Scilly during the Holocene, the progressive occupation of this changing coastal landscape by early peoples and their response to marine inundation and changing marine resource availability. Of particular importance will be the collection and analysis of data that will increase knowledge of sea level change during the past 8,000 years and provide baseline data for estimating future sea level rise in Scilly which can feed into regional and national climate change forums and reviews. Methods include survey and sampling of inter-tidial and submerged peat deposits. Analysis of palynological, diatom and foramifica in association with radio-carbon and OSL dating.
Funded by: English Heritage to the value of £120,000.
Duration: 2009 - 2016