Archaeology and Palaeoecology
A unique combination of cutting-edge archaeological approaches underpinned by state-of-the-art palaeoecological and chronological research.
Archaeology was established as a department at Queen’s University Belfast in 1948. In 1968, pioneering work in Palaeoecology began at the Nuffield Research Unit, which in 1985 became the Palaeoecology Centre. Today Queen’s Archaeology & Palaeoecology is recognised as an international leader in these fields.
Our discipline encompasses both the Sciences and Humanities. We undertake cutting-edge research on societal and environmental change in the past and explore their impacts on life today. Our expertise in heritage management, scientific, community and digital archaeology is complemented by ground-breaking palaeoenvironmental and chronological research, and supported by the Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork, the Centre for Community Archaeology and the 14CHRONO Centre.
A scientifically informed understanding of the past significantly informs the present and guides us towards a more sustainable future. Archaeology & Palaeoecology is where you will find a future in the past!
ARCHAEOLOGY and PALAEOECOLOGY RESEARCH
Archaeology studies the development of humanity by examining surviving material remains (e.g. tombs, temples, settlements, skeletons, artefacts and the landscape context from which they were recovered). Through the information gained it is possible to trace our economic, cultural, social and spiritual developments through time. At Queen’s, Palaeoecology complements Archaeology by studying the nature and timing of environmental changes in the past, including climate change. This brings a highly integrated approach to assessing how human activities have been shaped by and, in turn, have impacted upon the natural environment and a means to disentangle human impact from natural variability.
Although, by their very nature, Archaeology and Palaeoecology are concerned with the past, both disciplines have a role in the present, as well as the future. The threats to our environment and landscape through urban, industrial and agricultural development have never been greater. Globally, archaeological and environmental heritage is at threat from conflict and climate change. Archaeologists and palaeoecologists are at the forefront of the preservation and management of cultural evidence from the past – monuments, artefacts and landscapes, while increasingly work in this field also incorporates attention to ecological conservation. The past is also relevant to how people construct identities in the present and many of the careers available for archaeologists and palaeoecologists stem from the need to evaluate and manage the different dimensions of this heritage.
While Archaeology & Palaeoecology has a long tradition of researching Irish archaeology, our staff are also involved in projects across the globe, in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe. Our work stretches from the time of early hominins, hundreds of thousands of years ago, right up to the twenty-first century. Staff have a diverse range of research interests, including prehistoric stone technology and metalworking; medieval buildings; human and animal bones; tree-ring dating; pollen analysis; tephrochronology; childhood in the past; trading networks and migration, heritage management, and computational approaches to Archaeology and Palaeoecology including survey, mapping and remote sensing. Our graduates are equipped with a diverse subject-specific and generic skill-set that will enable them to successfully pursue careers in Archaeology & Palaeoecology in addition to many other fields, such as teaching, forensics or environmental work.
KEY RESEARCH PROJECTS
Fragility and Sustainability in Restricted Island Environments
An ERC-funded Advanced FP7 project that studies fragility and sustainability in island environments. The FRAGSUS project explores the life of the Neolithic Temple population, who settled in Malta between 5500BC and 2400BC, and focuses on how the prehistoric people responded to and exploited the limited resources of a remote island environment.
SUNDASIA / PALAEOKARST
Human Adaptation; Prehistoric Tropical Communities; Biodiversity; Climate Change
SUNDASIA is exploring how prehistoric tropical communities adapted to cycles of coastal inundation in northern Vietnam, and how these data can help inform models and responses to modern climate-induced rising seas in Southeast Asia. This multi-disciplinary research is funded by the GCRF (AHRC) and Xuan Truong Enterprise. A follow-on project (PALAEOKARST) is examining and modelling the effects of long-term human impact on tropical limestone karst forest.
Ranelagh Osteoarchaeology Project
Funerary practice in prehistoric southern Iberia
This British Academy-funded project aims to establish a science-based chronological framework for the funerary record of the Late Bronze Age / Early Iron Age transition in southern Iberia. The research will also improve our understanding of how the cremation process affects human bone material and its potential to provide accurate radiocarbon dates.
Areas of research undertaken in Archaeology & Palaeoecology and key researchers are listed below but the research of most staff crosses over many of these fields and into other disciplines:
|Contributor||Area of Research Expertise|
Radiocarbon Dating and Chronology
Digital Archaeology and Remore Sensing
Heritage Management including world heritage studies
Archaeology of Childhood
UNDERGRADUATE AND POSTGRADUATE PATHWAYS
If you are intrigued by past societies and past environments, then our degree programmes are for you. From the 2020/21 academic year we will be offering a CIfA/UAUK-accredited module pathway through all of our undergraduate programmes.
- Archaeology and French BA (4 yrs)
- Archaeology and Portuguese BA (4 yrs)
- Archaeology and Spanish BA (4 yrs)
- Archaeology MSci (4 yrs)
- Archaeology-Palaeoecology BSc (3 yrs)
- Archaeology-Palaeoecology-Geography BSc (3 yrs)
- Archaeology on the MlibArts (4 yrs)
- Archaeology & Palaeoecology MPhil (1 yr)
- Archaeology or Palaeoecology MRes (Arts and Humanities) (1 yr)
- Archaeology & Palaeoecology PhD (3 yrs)
Archaeological and Palaeoecological modules
Listed below are some of the modules our students have been able to choose from in recent years:
- ARP1006: Ancient Humans and Landscapes
- ARP1008: Europe in Prehistory
- ARP1007: Environmental Change: Past, Present and Future
- ARP1010: Themes in Historical Archaeology
- ARP1013: Introduction to World Archaeology
- ARP1014: Archaeological Excavation
- ARP2002: Landscapes and Geographical Information Systems
- ARP2041: Ireland in Prehistory
- ARP2043: Thinking Through Things: Theorising Global Archaeology
- ARP2045: From St Patrick to the Plantations: The Archaeology of Historic Ireland
- ARP2051: Palaeoenvironmental Techniques
- ARP2057: Archaeology in Practice
- ARP2058: Archaeology of Islands (Residential Fieldtrip Module)
- ARP3053: Society, Death and Disease
- ARP3056: Archaeology/Palaeoecology Dissertation
- ARP3060: Advanced GIS
- ARP3069: Archaeology/Palaeoecology Independent Project
- ARP3085: Early Medieval Europe: Archaeologies of Kinship, Religion and Society
- ARP3086: Human Environment Eco-Dynamics in the Holocene
- ARP3087: Human Evolution and Innovations through Prehistory
- ARP3088: Domestic, Symbolic and Funerary Monuments in Prehistoric Europe
- ARP3089: Critical Thinking in Archaeology and Palaeoecology
- ARP4041: Research Theory and Practice
- ARP4202: Irish Archaeology in a Global Perspective
- ARP4306: Professional Practice
- ARP4507: Applied Project
- ARP4511: Current Debates in Prehistoric Archaeology
- ARP4520: Advanced Excavation
- ARP4521: Workplace Internship
Campus-Wide Facilities and Research Centres
Archaeology & Palaeoecology houses a number of major research Centres, while its staff also collaborate and utilise cutting-edge facilities across the University. These include:
14CHRONO Centre – http://www.chrono.qub.ac.uk/
Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork – https://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/CentreforArchaeologicalFieldworkCAF/
Centre for Community Archaeology – http://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/communityarchaeology/
Stable Isotope Facility – https://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/NBE/Research/ResearchInfrastructure/StableIsotopeFacility/
Genomics Core Technology Unit – https://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/core-technology-units/Genomics/
Mass Spectrometry Core Technology Unit – https://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/core-technology-units/MassSpectrometry/