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Dr Christopher Davis

Research Associate

Research Associate in the Department of Archaeology


Chris undertook both his BA and MA in Archaeology at Durham University and continued his studies in the Department of Archaeology with an AHRC funded PhD. His thesis, ‘Early Buddhist Monasteries in Sri Lanka: a landscape approach’, was linked to an AHRC-funded investigation of the hinterland of Anuradhapura, in the Northern Dry Zone of Sri Lanka. This study integrated archaeological evidence from excavations and landscape survey with epigraphic, textual and ethnographic sources to investigate the social, administrative and economic functions of Buddhist monasteries, including the role of monastic enterprise in the colonisation of marginal land, around the city of Anuradhapura between c. 340 BCE to 1200 CE.

Working within the UNESCO Chair in Archaeological Ethics and Practice in Cultural Heritage, Chris’ research relates to the archaeology of South Asia, with a continued focus towards the development of religious institutions. Located at the interface between archaeology, epigraphy, ethnography and heritage management, these elements are combined through site and landscape based approaches to provide understandings on the development of societies in the past as well as the ramifications for heritage in the present.

Chris is a member of UNESCO-sponsored archaeological investigations in the natal landscape of the Buddha, refining and characterising archaeological sequences at the sites of Lumbini and Tilaurakot (Nepal). He is part of a team that is now developing these methodologies across the Kathmandu Valley UNESCO World Heritage Property (Nepal) in multi-disciplinary post-earthquake archaeological responses to heritage damaged and destroyed in the 2015 Nepal earthquakes. These investigations are identifying and characterising archaeological sequences and assessing foundations of collapsed monuments to guide future development and reconstruction, whilst protecting cultural heritage. This methodology has now been developed through British Academy sponsored fieldwork at Jaffna Fort, in Northern Sri Lanka, where damaged heritage is assessed and the earliest sequences of the site are being uncovered and linked to Indian Ocean trade networks. 

In addition to fieldwork in Sri Lanka (Anuradhapura, Polonnaruva, Jaffna) and Nepal (Lumbini, Tilaurakot and Kathmandu Valley), Chris has been part of archaeological projects in Bangladesh (Bagerhat, Mahasthangarh and Paharpur), India (Champaner-Pavagadh and Sarnath), Iran (Sialk) and Cambodia (Siem Reap – Angkor).


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