Professor Paul Halstead

Department of Archaeology

Emeritus Professor of Archaeology

Professor Paul Halstead
Profile picture of Professor Paul Halstead
+44 114 222 2905

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Professor Paul Halstead
Department of Archaeology
Room D09
Minalloy House
10-16 Regent Street
S1 3NJ

I earned my degrees in Archaeology at Cambridge, with an emphasis on European and (at doctoral level) Greek prehistory.

I was Research Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge, before joining the Sheffield department as lecturer in 1984.

I have participated in archaeological fieldwork projects in Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Bulgaria and Britain and in ethnoarchaeological projects in Greece, France and Spain.

During doctoral research in Greece, I was also singer in a band performing traditional Greek music (δημοτικά and ρεμπέτικα) and, ever the optimist, I support Wolverhampton Wanderers FC.

Research interests

My research has focussed chronologically and geographically on the later prehistory (Neolithic and Bronze Age) of Greece, thematically on the relationship between farming economies and social change, and methodologically on the contributions of zooarchaeology and ethnoarchaeology to the study of past animal and crop husbandry.

Current research projects

Paliambela Excavation Project

The multi-period Neolithic site of Paliambela-Kolindrou is being investigated in collaboration with Prof Kostas Kotsakis of the Aristotle University, Thessaloniki.

Excavation has uncovered, inter alia, one of the earliest, securely dated Early Neolithic settlement horizons in Greece and Europe.

Neolithic Animal Exploitation in Greece

Comparative analysis of a series of faunal assemblages from both north and south Greece, in collaboration with Dr Valasia Isaakidou and Dr Vasiliki Tzevelekidi, is revealing some apparently consistent and striking contrasts in patterns of carcass treatment and animal consumption between the earlier (7th-6th millennium BC) and later (6th-4th millennium BC) Neolithic.

Animal Exploitation at the ‘Palace of Nestor’, Pylos

Dr Valasia Isaakidou and I have been studying faunal remains from the Late Bronze Age ‘Palace of Nestor’, as part of a larger project (directed by Dr Sharon Stocker and Prof Jack Davis of the University of Cincinnati) to complete study and publication of Carl Blegen’s excavations at this site.

Evidence for burnt sacrifice of cattle and deer bears striking similarity to later classical Greek ritual practice and to Homeric descriptions.

Analysis of the bulk of the assemblage, resulting from more routine consumption and discard, will enable systematic comparison of the faunal and textual (Linear B) records of animal exploitation.

Traditional and Ancient Animal and Plant Husbandry in Mediterranean Europe

During fieldwork in the Mediterranean, I have observed (and ineptly participated in) many aspects of non-mechanised animal, crop and woodland management.

With various colleagues, I have explored the material correlates and decision-making contexts of such practices as cereal irrigation, manuring and weeding of crops, training of draught cattle, milking of domestic ruminants, and leafy hay production.

More generally, I am interested in the interplay between ‘practical’ and ‘cultural’ reasoning in farmers’ decision-making, and in the potential and pitfalls of applying lessons from the recent past to study of the distant past.

Research group

Current Research Students

  • Victoria Knowles- "The Marketisation of Agriculture: The archaeobotanical evidence for the development of a market economy for arable agricultural and horticultural products in Britain and Central Europe during the Roman and medieval period" 
  • Nasia Makarouna- "Animals, People & Gods: Domestic, Civic & Sacred Consumption of Livestock in Hellenistic-Late Antique Messenia, Greece"
  • Faidon Moudopoulos Athanasiou- "The Early Modern Zagorochoria of NW Greece: Reading History from and into a Montane Cultural Landscape"
  • Victoria Newson- "The Interaction Between Olive Oil and Wine Production Sites in the Southern Levant: a Detailed Computational, Climatological and Trade Based Analysis"
  • Tracy Platts- "Butchery practices in the Roman World: Rome, Romanitas and the western Empire"
Selected Publications
  • P. Halstead & V. Isaakidou 2020. Pioneer farming in earlier Neolithic Greece. In K.J. Gron, L. Sørensen & P. Rowley-Conwy (eds.), Farmers at the Frontier: A Pan-European Perspective on Neolithisation. Oxford: Oxbow; pp. 77-100.
  • P. Halstead 2019. This soil is mine and ours: domestic and collective use rights in the Neolithic of Greece, in K. Kotsakis (ed.), I Antipera Oxthi: Koinonikos Khoros kai Ideologia stis Proistorikes Koinotites. Thessaloniki: Aristotle University of Thessaloniki; pp. 57-70.
  • V. Isaakidou, A. Styring, P. Halstead, E. Nitsch, E. Stroud, P. le Roux, J. Lee-Thorp, A. Bogaard 2019. From texts to teeth: A multi-isotope study of sheep and goat herding practices in the Late Bronze Age (‘Mycenaean’) polity of Knossos, Crete, Journal of Archaeological Science Reports 23: 36-56.
  • P. Halstead 2018. Forest clearance and land use by early farmers in Europe: insights from north Greek oral history, Quaternary International 496: 42-50.
  • V. Isaakidou & P. Halstead 2018. Carcasses, ceramics, and cooking at Makriyalos I: towards an integrated approach to human diet and commensality in Late Neolithic northern Greece, in Ivanova-Bieg M., Stockhammer PW, Athanassov B, Petrova V, Takorova D. (eds.) Social Dimensions of Food in the Prehistory of the Eastern Balkans and Neighbouring Areas. Oxford: Oxbow; pp. 66-85.
  • V. Isaakidou,, P. Halstead & F. Adaktylou 2018. Animal carcass processing, cooking and consumption at Early Neolithic Revenia-Korinou, northern Greece. Quaternary International 496: 108-126.
  • P. Vaiglova, P. Halstead, M. Pappa, S. Triantaphyllou, S. M. Valamoti, J. Evans, R. Fraser, P. Karkanas, A. Kay, J. Lee-Thorp & A. Bogaard 2018. Of cattle and feasts: multi-isotope investigation of animal husbandry and communal feasting at Neolithic Makriyalos, northern Greece. PLoS ONE 13(6): e0194474.
  • P. Rowley-Conwy, D. Serjeantson & P. Halstead (eds.) 2017. Economic Zooarchaeology: Studies in Hunting, Herding & Early Agriculture. Oxford: Oxbow.
  • P. Halstead & V. Isaakidou 2017. Calf mortality and milking: was Tony Legge right after all? In P. Rowley-Conwy, D. Serjeantson & P. Halstead (eds.) Economic Zooarchaeology: Studies in Hunting, Herding & Early Agriculture. Oxford: Oxbow; pp. 119-125.
  • P. Halstead 2014. Two Oxen Ahead: Pre-Mechanized Farming in the Mediterranean. Chichester: Blackwell-Wiley.
  • P. Halstead 2014. Archaeological science and the Neolithic: the power and perils of proxy measures. In A. Whittle and P. Bickle (eds.) Early Farmers: the View from Archaeology and Science. Proceedings of the British Academy 198: 419-433. 
  • J. Bennet & P. Halstead 2014. O-no! Writing and righting redistribution. In D. Nakassis, J. Gulizio and S. A. James (eds.), KE-RA-ME-JA: Studies Presented to Cynthia Shelmerdine. Philadelphia: INSTAP Academic Press; pp. 271-282.
  • A. Bogaard & P. Halstead 2014. Subsistence practices and social routine in Neolithic southern Europe. In C. Fowler, J. Harding and D. Hofmann (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Neolithic Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press; pp. 385-410.
  • P. Halstead 2012. Feast, food and fodder in Neolithic-Bronze Age Greece: commensality and the construction of value. In S. Pollock (ed.), Between Feasts and Daily Meals. Towards an Archaeology of Commensal Spaces. eTopoi. Journal for Ancient Studies special volume 2: 21-51.
  • P. Halstead 2011. Redistribution in Aegean palatial societies: terminology, scale, and significance. American Journal of Archaeology 115: 229-235.
  • P. Halstead 2011.    Farming, material culture and ideology: repackaging the Neolithic of Greece (and Europe). In A. Hadjikoumis, E. Robinson and S. Viner (eds.), The Dynamics of Neolithisation in Europe: Studies in Honour of Andrew Sherratt. Oxford: Oxbow; pp. 131-151.
  • P. Halstead & V. Isaakidou 2011. Revolutionary secondary products: the development and significance of milking, animal-traction and wool-gathering in later prehistoric Europe and the Near East. In T. Wilkinson, S. Sherratt and J. Bennet (eds.), Interweaving Worlds: Systemic Interactions in Eurasia, 7th to 1st Millennia BC. Oxford: Oxbow; pp. 61-76.
  • P. Halstead & V. Isaakidou 2011. Political cuisine: rituals of commensality in the Neolithic and Bronze Age Aegean. In G. Aranda Jiménez, S. Montón-Subías and S. Romero (eds.), Guess Who´s Coming to Dinner. Feasting Rituals in the Prehistoric Societies
of Europe and the Near East. Oxford: Oxbow; pp. 91-108.
  • P. Halstead & V. Isaakidou 2011. A pig fed by hand is worth two in the bush: ethnoarchaeology of pig husbandry in Greece and its archaeological implications. In U. Albarella & A. Trentacoste (eds.) Ethnozooarchaeology: the Present and Past of Human-Animal Relationships. Oxford: Oxbow; pp. 160-174.
  • P. Halstead 2009. Studying the past in the present: archaeological engagement with modern Greece. In M. Llewellyn Smith, P. M. Kitromilidis & E. Calligas(eds.) Scholars, Travels, Archives. Greek History and Culture through the BSA. London: British School at Athens; pp. 201-215.
  • P. Halstead 2007. Carcasses and commensality: investigating the social context of meat consumption in Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Greece. In C. Mee & J. Renard (eds.) Cooking up the Past: Food and Culinary Practices in the Neolithic and Bronze Age Aegean. Oxford: Oxbow; pp. 25-48.
  • J. Barrett & P. Halstead (eds.) 2004. The Emergence of Civilization Revisited (Sheffield Studies in Aegean Archaeology 6). Oxford: Oxbow.
  • P. Halstead & J. Barrett (eds.) 2004. Food, Cuisine and Society in Prehistoric Greece (Sheffield Studies in Aegean Archaeology 5). Oxford: Oxbow.
  • M. Pappa, P. Halstead, K. Kotsakis & D. Urem-Kotsou 2004. Evidence for large-scale feasting at Late Neolithic Makriyalos, N Greece. In P. Halstead & J. Barrett (eds.) Food, Cuisine and Society in Prehistoric Greece (Sheffield Studies in Aegean Archaeology 5). Oxford: Oxbow; pp. 16-44.
  • E. Kotjabopoulou, Y. Hamilakis, P. Halstead, C. Gamble & P. Elefanti (eds.) 2003. Zooarchaeology in Greece: Recent Advances. London: British School at Athens.
  • P. Halstead 2002. Texts, bones and herders: approaches to animal husbandry in Late Bronze Age Greece. In J. Bennet & J. Driessen (eds.) A-NA-QO-TA: Studies Presented to John T. Killen. Minos 33-34 [1998-99]: 149-189.
  • P. Halstead, P.Collins & V. Isaakidou 2002. Sorting the sheep from the goats: morphological distinctions between the mandibles and mandibular teeth of adult Ovis and Capra. Journal of Archaeological Science 29: 543-553.
  • M. Charles, A. Bogaard, G. Jones, J. Hodgson & P. Halstead. 2002. Towards the archaeobotanical recognition of intensive cereal cultivation: present-day ecological investigation in the mountains of Asturias, northwest Spain. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 11: 133-142.
  • V. Isaakidou, P. Halstead, J. Davis & S. Stocker 2002. Burnt animal sacrifice at the Mycenaean ‘Palace of Nestor’, Pylos. Antiquity 76: 86-92.
  • P. Halstead 2001. Mycenaean wheat, flax and sheep: palatial intervention in farming and its implications for rural society. In S. Voutsaki & J. T. Killen (eds) ‘Economy and politics in the Mycenaean palace states’, Proceedings of Cambridge Philological Society supplementary volume 27: 38-50.
  • M. Charles & P. Halstead 2001. Biological resource exploitation: problems of theory and method. In D.R. Brothwell & A.M. Pollard (eds.) Handbook of Archaeological Sciences. Chichester: Wiley; pp. 365-378.
  • P. Halstead & C. Frederick (eds.) 2000. Landscape and Land Use in Postglacial Greece (Sheffield Studies in Aegean Archaeology 3).  Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.
  • P. Halstead (ed.) 1999. Neolithic Society in Greece (Sheffield Studies in Aegean Archaeology 2). Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.
  • P. Halstead 1999. Towards a model of Mycenaean palatial mobilisation. In M. Galaty & W. Parkinson (eds.), Rethinking Mycenaean Palaces. Los Angeles: UCLA Institute of Archaeology; pp. 35-41.
  • P. Halstead 1999. Surplus and share-croppers: the grain production strategies of Mycenaean palaces. In P. Betancourt, V. Karageorghis, R. Laffineur & W.-D. Niemeier (eds.), MELETHMATA.  Studies Presented to Malcolm H. Weiner as he Enters his 65th Year 2. Liège: University of Liège; pp. 319-326.
  • P. Halstead 1999. Missing sheep: on the meaning and wider significance of o in Knossos SHEEP records. Annual of the British School at Athens 94: 145-166.
  • P. Halstead 1998. Ask the fellows who lop the hay: leaf-fodder in the mountains of northwest Greece.  Rural History 9: 211-234.
  • P. Halstead 1998. Mortality models and milking: problems of optimality, uniformitarianism and equifinality reconsidered.  Anthropozoologica 27: 3-20.
  • P. Halstead 1998. Linear B evidence for the management of sheep breeding at Knossos: production targets and deficits in the KN Dl(1) and Do sets. Minos 31-32:  187-199.
  • M. Charles, P. Halstead & G. Jones (eds.) 1998. Fodder: Archaeological, Historical and Ethnographic Approaches.  Environmental Archaeology 1.
  • P. Halstead 1996. Pastoralism or household herding?  Problems of scale and specialisation in early Greek animal husbandry.  World Archaeology 28: 20-42.
  • P. Halstead 1995. From sharing to hoarding: the Neolithic foundations of Aegean Bronze Age society? In R. Laffineur & W.-D. Niemeier (eds.) POLITEIA: Society and State in the Aegean Bronze Age. Liege: University of Liege; pp. 11-21.
  • P. Halstead 1995. Plough and power: the economic and social significance of cultivation with the ox-drawn ard in the Mediterranean. Bulletin on Sumerian Agriculture 8: 11-22.
  • P. Halstead 1993. Lost sheep?  On the Linear B evidence for breeding flocks at mycenaean Knossos and Pylos.  Minos 25-26: 343-365.
  • P. Halstead 1992. The Mycenaean palatial economy: making the most of the gaps in the evidence.  Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society:  57-86.
  • P. Halstead 1992. Agriculture in the Bronze Age Aegean: towards a model of palatial economy. In B. Wells (ed.) Agriculture in Ancient Greece.  Athens: Swedish Institute at Athens; pp. 105-16.
  • P. Halstead 1990. Present to past in the Pindhos: specialisation and diversification in mountain economies.  Rivista di Studi Liguri 56: 61-80.
  • P. Halstead 1990. Waste not, want not: traditional responses to crop failure in Greece.  Rural History 1:  147-164.
  • P. Halstead & J. O'Shea (eds.) 1989. Bad Year Economics: Cultural Responses to Risk & Uncertainty.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • P. Halstead 1989. The economy has a normal surplus:  economic stability and social change among early farming communities of Thessaly, Greece. In P. Halstead & J. O'Shea (eds.)  Bad Year Economics:  Cultural Responses to Risk and Uncertainty.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press; pp. 68-80.
  • P. Halstead & G. Jones 1989. Agrarian ecology in the Greek islands:  time stress, scale and risk.  Journal of Hellenic Studies 109: 41-55.
  • P. Halstead 1987. Traditional and ancient rural economy in Mediterranean Europe:  plus ca change?  Journal of Hellenic Studies 107:  77-87.
  • P. Halstead & J. O'Shea 1982. A friend in need is a friend indeed:  social storage and the origins of social ranking. In C. Renfrew & S. Shennan (eds.), Ranking, Resource and Exchange.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; pp. 92-99.
  • P. Halstead 1981.    Counting sheep in Neolithic and Bronze Age Greece. In I. Hodder, G. Isaac & N. Hammond (eds.), Pattern of the Past:  Studies in Honour of David Clarke.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press; pp. 307-339.
  • P. Halstead, I. Hodder & G. Jones 1978. Behavioural archaeology and refuse patterns: a case study. Norwegian Archaeological Review 11: 118-31.