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Archaeology and Conservation

Interpreting, presenting, and preserving our heritage for the future.

We’re driven by the challenges of discovering, exploring, presenting and preserving our heritage for the benefit of contemporary and future generations. Our commitment is to making archaeology relevant to today’s great environmental and societal challenges, delivering projects that address heritage preservation, climate change and social inequalities.

Archaeology and Conservation marked its centenary in 2020, and has built an international reputation for excellence in developing and applying archaeological and conservation practice, all centred around co-production with diverse local, national and global communities.

Since the last Research Excellence Framework review in 2014, we’ve amassed a total of 350 publications. These include theoretical texts that challenge the nature of archaeological understanding, methodological statements that improve the preservation of the archaeological record for future generations, and major excavation reports that expand our knowledge of the past.

By embracing challenges and identifying new directions, we look forward to being part of the changing face of our disciplines over the next 100 years.

Themes

Our three major themes are Human and Animal Lifeways, the Material World and Heritage Science and Practice.

Human and Animal Lifeways

We take an integrated approach to understanding the entanglements between people, animals and landscapes in the past. Research is characterised by collaborations between archaeological scientists and archaeologists, and is shaping our understanding of the dietary impact of cultural changes and providing new insights into food, feasting, movement and territoriality.

Our research responds to emerging research agendas, driving interdisciplinary and methodological advancements to break down interpretative barriers in integrated archaeological science.

The Material World

The material world lies at the heart of research that adds to and transforms our understanding of life at different scales and the relationship between humans, artefacts, place and time. From studies of domesticity that reveal the diversity of lived experience in the past and challenge prevailing concepts of identity, colonisation and commercialisation, to fieldwork at the monumental scale.

We’re developing new comparative perspectives on the relationship between monuments and social life and fresh insights into portable material culture such as glass technology in Egypt, ceramics in Greece, and antler and bone working in Atlantic Scotland.

Heritage Science and Practice

The focus on materials science and conservation practice, heritage presentation, management, and engagement allows our research to inform heritage practice directly. Our ever-expanding analytical capabilities include compositional analysis, optical and electron microscopy, climatic simulation and digital imaging.

Working with stakeholders and practitioners, national governments, and heritage bodies, we develop new guidance and approaches for the conservation and display of heritage materials, to refine heritage research and management and to develop new approaches to engagement.

Championing engagement and civic mission

Our research is a catalyst for our civic mission and engagement, with far-reaching impact. Among our standout projects are:

  • The CAER Heritage Project – which is facilitating social and economic change starting with the excavation of a little-understood Iron Age hillfort.
  • Views of an Antique Land – a project which engaged with the public to collate images of Egypt and Palestine from World War One in a virtual resource.
  • The Phoenix Heritage Project – which is, through international collaboration, supporting the creation of a sustainable Historic Environment Record in Namibia.