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Department of Archaeology


Understanding and interpreting the human past in all its complexity

Cambridge is home to one of the world’s largest communities of archaeological researchers and biological anthropologists.

The core of this community is the academics based in the Department of Archaeology, who are active in field projects in all seven continents, and embrace both the scientific and the humanistic aspects of the discipline: ranging from the exploration of the nuances of archaeological theory through field projects and laboratory analyses to heritage studies, the investigation of ancient languages, human evolution and primatology.

The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research is home to a large community of post-doctoral research fellows, and supports archaeological researchers, wherever they are located in the University, through grants for fieldwork, museum research and conference organisation, access to laboratories, project space, seminar facilities, and publication in the Institute’s Monograph series.

The outstanding quality of our research is recognised by University, national and international awards to staff and postgraduate students, extensive representation in national and international research organisations, and high levels of project funding from major UK, European and international research councils and research charities. 


Our Research Themes

The broad range of topics we research clusters  into six strategic research themes: Environment, Landscapes and Settlement; Heritage; Human Evolutionary Studies; Material Culture; Rethinking Complexity; Science, Technology and Innovation


Our Research Projects

Our major research projects are extraordinarily varied, spanning the continuum from archaeological theory to methodological innovation, often in an interdisciplinary framework.



Our Laboratories

Across an exceptional 450 m2 of newly-refurbished laboratory space, we run facilities for preparation and analysis of archaeological remains for macro- and microstructural examination, chemical and isotopic composition, ancient DNA and protein extraction, as well as high-performance computing.


The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research

The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research serves as an interdisciplinary hub, intellectual home and research facilitator for researchers and their collaborators.


Seminar Series

We host a wide range of seminar and lecture series, formal and informal. Our staff and students present the fruits of their research, or learn from invited speakers.