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
Navan Fort is Northern Ireland's premier archaeological complex, famed in literature as the capital of the ancient province of Ulster. The Navan Fort and Environs Project undertakes large-scale geophysical surveys at the site itself and in its surroundings, as well as excavations within the core complex, aimed at evaluating the long-term evolution of this landscape from the Bronze Age to the medieval period, in order to illuminate it role as a major centre of ceremony, ritual and power in the first millennium BC and first millennium AD.
The project is being supported by funding from the Leverhulme Trust, Armagh-Banbridge-Craigavon Council, and the Historic Environment Fund of Northern Ireland.
Over the course of the Bronze Age (c. 2500-800 BC), the growing demand for copper shaped new exchange networks and established new communities of practice. While for the earlier part of that period, the role of Ireland in the relevant Atlantic networks is reasonably well understood, the same does not hold true for the Later Bronze Age, when Ireland had ceased to be a net exporter and become a net importer of copper.
This UKRI-funded project aims to address that lacuna in our understanding by establishing the sources of the copper consumed in Ireland after the island lost its role as a supplier of that metal to other regions and by providing a more reliable chronological framework for Irish Later Bronze Age metalwork.
This project focuses on how societies adapt to the changing climate of a hyper-arid Lop Nur region in the Tarim Basin, a key area of central Asia. The region was an international crossroad of Old-World networks and witnessed four phases of civilisation development since the late Pleistocene.
The China Scholarship Council-funded research aims to place these desert-oasis cultures within the context of dynamic landscape changes and alterations in natural resource availability, and will determine the causes of development and abandonment based on forms of mutualism between human societies and the climate environment.
Research Expertise of Archaeology and Palaeocology Staff:
- Later Prehistory
- Artefact Studies
- Medieval Archaeology
- Remote Sensing
- Historic Archaeology
- Archaeological Theory
- Neolithic Archaeology
- Physical Anthropology
- Copper Age to Iron Age in Eurasia
- Archaeology of Cult and Religion
- Early Medieval Settlements
- Landscape Archaeology
- Human Osteoarchaeology
- Radiocarbon Dating
- Stable Isotope Analysis
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 BA (3 yrs)
- Archaeology with French BA (4 yrs)
- Archaeology with Portuguese BA (4 yrs)
- Archaeology with Spanish BA (4 yrs)
- Archaeology and Irish BA (3 yrs)
- Archaeology and History BA (3 yrs)
- Archaeology MSci (4 yrs)
- Archaeology-Palaeoecology BSc (3 yrs)
- Archaeology-Palaeoecology and Geography BSc (3 yrs)
- Archaeology on the MlibArts (4 yrs)
- Archaeology or Palaeoecology MRes (Arts and Humanities) (1 yr)
- Archaeology & Palaeoecology MPhil (2 yrs)
- Archaeology & Palaeoecology PhD (3 yrs)
Module Choices in Archaeology and Palaeoecology
Students enroled on any of the above programmes can choose from a wide range of modules in Archaeology and Palaeoecology. In addition to the core modules listed below, single honours students can normally take one module from another discipline each year, and joint honours students can avail of further module choices from their second subject. Below are some of the core modules on our programmes that 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
* 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)
* GGY2002: Landscapes and Geographical Information Science
* GGY2053: Maps & Mappings: From the Stone Age to the Digital Age
* ARP3053: Society, Death and Disease
* ARP3055: Dating the Past
* ARP3056: Archaeology/Palaeoecology Dissertation
* 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
* GGY3049: Geoforensics
* GGY3060: Advanced Geographical Information Science
* ARP4041: Research Theory and Practice
* ARP4202: Irish Archaeology in a Global Context
* ARP4306: Workplace Internship
* ARP4507: Applied Project
* ARP4508: Geospatial Techniques in Archaeology
* ARP4509: Museums in Heritage and Archaeology
* ARP4510: Community Archaeology
* ARP4511: Current Debates in Prehistoric Archaeology
* ARP4520: Advanced Excavation
* ARP4521: Professional Practice
Archaeology & Palaeoecology houses a number of major research Centres, while its staff also collaborate and utilise cutting-edge facilities across the University. These include:
|STAFF NAME||RESEARCH INTERESTS|
|Dr Maarten Blaauw||Palaeoecology, statistical interpretation of proxy firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Dr Dirk Brandherm||Later Prehistory, artefact email@example.com|
|Dr Patrick Gleeson||Medieval archaeology, remote firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Prof (Emeritus) James Mallory||Archaeology and linguistics, Copper Age to Iron Age in Eurasiaemail@example.com|
|Prof (Emerita) Caroline Malone||Neolithic, archaeology of cult and firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Dr William Megarry||Landscape archaeology, heritage email@example.com|
|Prof Eileen Murphy||Human osteoarchaeology, archaeology of firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Prof (Emeritus) Jonathan Pilcher||Cryptotephra; Palynology; Mid- to Late Holocene environmental change|
|Dr Eóin Parkinson||Human bioarchaeology, megalithism and ritual in email@example.com|
|Dr Gill Plunkett||Palaeoecology, pollen and plant macrofossil analysis, firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Dr Ryan Rabett||Palaeolithic, Southeast Asian email@example.com|
|Prof (Emerita) Paula Reimer||Radiocarbon dating, stable isotope firstname.lastname@example.org|