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Prehistoric Worlds: Research and Impact Group

Convenor: Professor Paul Pettitt

Prehistoric stone monument

The ‘Prehistoric Worlds’ Research and Impact Group brings together researchers studying a wide range of issues, sites, and artefacts from across the whole of the prehistoric time spectrum. This vibrant body of researchers and post-graduate students covers topics ranging in time from the Lower Palaeolithic to the end of the Iron Age, and in space from Torquay to Damascus. The group combines competing theoretical and empirical backgrounds to create new synergies in cross-period and cross-area discourse.

We are highly international both in our research subjects and in team membership; some of our projects focus largely on Britain, but most of them involve working overseas or with overseas colleagues, or on themes that transcend national boundaries. The aim is to provide a forum in which broad-ranging and widely informed interpretation is the norm.

A number of these projects directly engage with the public, while others impact on policy making, for example in the management and preservation of archaeological sites.

Associated research projects

Among the key research projects led by members of this group are several that focus on Palaeolithic artefacts, landscape, and visual imagery. These include work on river gravels and cave art. Other projects address the history of research on this period, and the application of acoustic analysis to the analysis of Palaeolithic caves:

Moving onwards in time, a second focus of research is the later prehistory of the Mediterranean and western Europe, from the transition to the Neolithic in the 6th millennium BC to the Bronze Age societies of the 2nd millennium BC:

 The development of monumentality from the Neolithic to the Iron Age is addressed by several projects that cover funerary monuments, landscape, and visual culture:

Other projects on the archaeology of the Iron Age in northwest Europe study the rise of the oppida and their social, economic and political role, in France and Britain (Bagendon and Bibracte). The REFIT project engages landowners and other stakeholders to highlight the value of these sites and develop sustainable management strategies of the cultural landscapes associated with these major sites.


The ‘Prehistoric Worlds’ Research and Impact Group holds lunchtime seminars with invited external speakers and presentations from academic staff and students of the department. A list of lunchtime seminars for 2021-22 will be announced later this summer. Our plans for 2021-22 include a series of workshops and discussion groups around key themes such as visualisation and monumentality, the application of digital imagery, and the impact of ancient DNA analysis on interpretation of Eurasian prehistory.

Prehistoric cave art