PhD Success for Helen, Chris and Wei!

Congratulations to:  Helen McGauran, Chris Beckman and Wei Chu  on the recent successful defence of their PhD theses!

Helen McGauran

Thesis title:  ‘Contextual analysis of economic and social networks: the circulation of Bronze Age soft-stone artefacts in Bahrain and Cyprus’.

Supervisors:   Wendy Matthews, Stuart Black and Bob Chapman.

Christopher Beckman

Thesis title: ‘The Bearded man and the Pig-tailed women:  Hierarchy-enacting practices in Late Chalcolithic Mesopotamia.

Supervisors:  Roger Matthews and Bob Chapman. 

Wei Chu

Thesis title:  ‘No stone left unturned: fluvial processes in the Pleistocene of northern Europe’.

Supervisors:  Rob Hosfield and Martin Bell.

We celebrate the important contributions they have made to the School’s research output and wish them every success for the future.

A rare Anglo-Saxon gaming piece makes the national news for the Lyminge Archaeological Project!

Yes, our department is in the news again…Read all about it on the main University of Reading website: Backgammon in the 7th century? Anglo-Saxon royal entertainment uncovered in Kent

and some other takes on the story:

The Lyminge Archaeological Project is run by Dr Gabor Thomas and is also featured in the November edition of Current Archaeology Magazine.



Dr Jim Leary vs Dr Who


If you’re not watching Dr Who this Saturday 23rd November, tune in to Channel 4 at 8pm, as our very own time travelling Dr, Jim Leary will be Walking Through History with Tony Robinson!

Rosie, Alexandra and Emma talk about their research at Royal Archaeological Institute at the Society of Antiquaries

RAI_2On Wednesday 13th November three of our PhD and post-doctoral students presented papers at the invitation of the Royal Archaeological Institute at the Society of Antiquaries, Piccadilly in London. Dr Emma Durham, Dr Alexandra Knox and Rosie Weetch spoke about research they had undertaken at the University of Reading as students and early career researchers. It was another important opportunity to bring the department’s distinctive work to a wider audience. Under the session title of ‘Rethinking Material Culture’, the three contributions gave us new insights into what objects meant, and what importance they had for those in past societies. These insights gave us a deeper archaeological understanding of how individuals and communities interacted – in this case during the Roman and medieval periods.

Dr Emma Durham offered an important reinterpretation of the Silchester Roman Eagle that was unearthed during the nineteenth-century excavations at the Roman city (and currently the site of our Departmental Field School), putting it in context of the representation of eagles in Roman Britain and Europe.

Dr Alexandra Knox showed the importance of reinterpreting even the most ordinary of finds from excavated sites in light of how Anglo-Saxon villagers viewed and experienced their local and regional worlds in the seventh to ninth centuries AD.

Rosie Weetch is researching the brooches that people wore during the eight to eleventh centuries and she showed how this plentiful evidence could tell us much about the attitudes and beliefs of those living in medieval East Anglia, with particular reference to gender and identity.

The session was well attended and there were many questions and in their answers the speakers made it very clear how their work was changing the Roman and medieval worlds. Thanks to Emma, Alex and Rosie for spreading the message that Reading has an important and leading place on the archaeological map!

New publications from the Lyminge Archaeological Project

The Lyminge project team are happy to announce the arrival of two key publications – one academic and the other aimed at a public audience – off the back of another highly successful excavation season in summer 2013. The first, by Project Director, Dr Gabor Thomas, published in the current volume of the Antiquaries Journal, provides a detailed synthesis of excavations between 2008 to 2012. The paper assesses and contextualises the results in a chronological framework emphasising Lyminge’s capacity to provide new insights into how the founding of monasteries in Anglo-Saxon England redefined a pre-existing stratum of central places embedded in the power structures of the pagan past.


The second article, by Project Post-Doctoral Research Assistant, Dr Alexandra Knox, has just appeared in the latest edition of Current Archaeology magazine. While revealing more details concerning the remarkable Anglo-Saxon feasting hall discovered in 2012, the article also takes the opportunity to highlight the community dimension of the Lyminge project and key discoveries dating from the prehistoric and medieval periods.

Announcing a NEW postgraduate course…MA Archaeology of the Middle East!!!

Professor Roger Matthews is very pleased to announce that we will be running a new course to begin in 2014…

How best do we understand the modern Middle East, a complex and diverse region that features so much in the global news today? Study of the region’s past is the only way to gain real understanding of its present situation and of possible future directions. This programme is a brand new MA designed for those who wish to develop their knowledge of the Middle East through the advanced study of its archaeology.

Here’s a link to the webpage

The University of Reading has a high concentration of archaeologists working on the archaeology and history of the Middle East. In this MA you will take part in active learning through guided study of themes and issues in the archaeology of the Middle East. You will be able to explore major episodes in the human past through case studies from all regions of the Middle East, including Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Arabia, the Levant and Egypt. The degree will focus on inter-disciplinary approaches to important, real-world issues, including the transition from hunter-forager to farmer-herder, the development of urban, literate civilisations, and the rise and fall of some of the world’s greatest empires.





The department celebrated the 65th birthday of one of the department’s founding members, (and Silchester’s Project Director), Prof. Mike Fulford with cake, bubbly and an edited volume on Roman archaeology. The book (a festschrift) celebrates his academic career and contains papers on the Roman countryside, Roman towns and Roman artefacts. Copies at a reduced price (£45) for friends and colleagues of Mike Fulford can still be obtained from Hella Eckardt.

Reading student runner up in the Prehistoric Society Undergraduate Dissertation

We are delighted to announce that Hazel Thornthwaite, who graduated this summer, was awarded a prize last night by the Prehistoric Society. She was a runner up in the Prehistoric Society Undergraduate Dissertation Prize competition for the dissertation that has made the greatest contribution to the study of prehistory in any part of the world.

This is excellent acknowledgement for the quality of Hazel’s dissertation “Ethnoarchaeology of horse husbandry in the New Forest and its archaeological implications” and all the hard work she put in.


Professor Roberta Gilchrist to deliver lecture on Glastonbury Abbey

Interested in Anglo-Saxon Glastonbury? Then get yourself to the Institute of Archaeology in London for The David Wilson lecture in Medieval Studies, at 5.30pm on Wednesday 16th October, lecture Theatre G6. Roberta will be speaking on the subject of: Glastonbury Abbey: Reinterpreting the Anglo-Saxon Archaeology. This will be followed by a launch party for the seminar series in the staff common room there.

Wilson lecture 2013

Professor Roberta Gilchrist to appear on TV!

A new television series on BBC4 entitled ‘Medieval Lives: Birth, Marriage and Death’ starts tonight (Wednesday 9th October) at 9pm. The first programme looks at birth, the second (16/10/13) marriage and the last (23/10/13) death. Our very own Professor Roberta Gilchrist (who is also Head of the School of Archaeology Geography and Environmental Science) is to appear in episodes 1 and 3. Not to be missed!