Department of Archaeology

Origins and Exchange

Hannah O'Regan and Dr Christine Steininger examining deposits at Kromdraai

From the earliest humans to modern globalisation, a defining characteristic of ‘being human’ is our capacity to travel



People are the most widely distributed species on the planet and we have transformed every part of it by translocating plants, animals, material cultures and technologies. These bio-culturalvestiges of past societies are a direct record of human migration, trade, behaviour and ideology. Our department specialises in researching these issues to understand and highlight the manyroutes and influences by which cultures are created, blended and mutually reshaped.

We are exploring the geographical origins and physical mechanismsby which people moved; be it in terms of how early hominin species initially evolved and spread from Africa, the impact of maritime contacts and seafaring or how the medieval Silk Roads enabled the overland exchange of goods and ideas across Eurasia. Our research also focuses on the dynamics of innovation: notably the spread and circulation of metallurgy in prehistoric Europe and the Mediterranean; the origins, development and exchange of glass from the Middle East; the transition to agriculture; and the origins and spread of horticulture and arboriculture in northwestern Europe. We also research origins and exchange in terms of beliefs and behaviour, such as the development of funerary traditions in Late Bronze Age Greece and in the origins and spread of Easter.

Our work within this theme not only provides high-quality information about past cultures but also has implications for modern policy, for instance, supplying evidence to support policy for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Image of Petra from the Silk Road Project
Image of Petra, a stop on the Silk Road. Taken by Julian Henderson whilst researching for the Silk Road Project




  • Project/research area
  • Trade and Atlantic seaboards
  • Trade, organics and inorganic materials
  • Archaeologies of the Norman Conquest
  • Trade/connections in the late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age Mediterranean
  • Origins of metallurgy
  • Hard cheese: upland pastoralism in the Italian Bronze and Iron Ages
  • Norwich Houses
  • Dovedale/Peak/wild bears
  • Doghole Cave
  • Migration narratives: an archaeological perspective
  • The origins of ancient glass
  • Mapping medieval Silk Road interactions using  glass and ceramics
  • Islamic glass production and provenance
  • Trade and exchange along the Silk Road between the Middle East and China
  • The origins of agriculture
  • The development of horitculture in Britain
  • Roman Trade: network applications and exotics 
  • The origins of the Mycenaean burial tradition 
  • Trade and Exchange in Bronze Age Laconia, Greece
  • Migration narratives: an archaeological perspective 


Department of Archaeology

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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