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Department of Archaeology


The European Research Council have announced €450 million for Europe's long-term frontier research. 

Amongst the winners are John Robb, Professor of European Prehistory in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge. 

Professor Robb's project entitled "ANCESTORS - Making Ancestors: The Politics of Death in Prehistoric Europe" receives  €1.94m in funding. The project takes the osteobiographical methods deveoped in the 'After the Plague' project and the taphonomy methods developed in the Scaloria Cave project and apply them to a major theoretical problem in European prehistory - the nature of community and the rise of inequality. 

John says, ''This project is really exciting and I’ll be working with wonderful colleagues Dr Christiana ‘Freddi’ Scheib at the University of Tartu and Dr Mary Anne Tafuri at Sapienza University of Rome.

The project tests alternative models of prehistoric inequality and deathways. To investigate social relations in life, it uses osteobiography, reconstructing life stories from skeletons through scientific data on identity, health, diet, mobility and kinship. To understand deathways, it employs a second new methodology, funerary taphonomy. Combining osteobiography and taphonomy allows us to connect ancient lives and deaths. Peninsular Italy provides a substantial test sequence typical of much of Europe.

The results will allow us to evaluate for the first time how inequality affected lives in prehistoric Europe and what role ancestors played in it.”

The project will create three post-doctoral positions (one at each of the three Universities), plus roles for a part-time research assistant and a part-time administrator.

This funding is part of the EU research and innovation programmee, Horizon 2020. The new grantees will carry out their projects at universities and research centres across 20 EU Member States and associated countries.

The full list of the winners of winners of this year's ERC Advanced Grants can be found here:


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