Professor Paul HalsteadPaul Halstead

Professor of Archaeology


BA Honours in Archaeology, University of Cambridge; PhD Archaeology, University of Cambridge

Email address:

Telephone: +44 (0)114-2222905

Department address
Department of Archaeology
Northgate House
West Street
Sheffield S1 4ET


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 supervision

I have supervised MA and PhD dissertations on topics in Aegean prehistory (based on library research or study of faunal, ceramic and other assemblages), zooarchaeology (applied and methodological studies) and Mediterranean ethnoarchaeology and landscape

I am interested in supervising research students with an interest in:

  • Neolithic communities in southeast Europe
  • Farming in the prehistoric or classical Mediterranean
  • Ethnoarchaeology of ‘traditional’ land use



World Civilisations
Archaeology in the Laboratory
Discoverers and Discoveries
Later Prehistoric Europe
From Households to Empires


Selected publications

2011 (with V. Isaakidou) 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, 61-76.

2011 (with V. Isaakidou) Political cuisine: rituals of commensality in the Neolithic and Bronze Age Aegean, in G. Aranda and S. Monton (eds.), Guess Who´s Coming to Dinner. Feasting Rituals in the Prehistoric Societies
of Europe and Near East. Oxford: Oxbow, 91-108.

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; 131-151.

2011 (with V. Isaakidou) A pig fed by hand is worth two in the bush: ethnoarchaeology of pig husbandry in Greece and its archaeological implications, in U. Albarella and A. Trentacoste (eds.), Ethnozooarchaeology: the Present and Past of Human-Animal Relationships. Oxford: Oxbow, 160-74.

2011 Redistribution in Aegean palatial societies: terminology, scale, and significance, American Journal of Archaeology 115, 229-235.

2011 (with R. Fraser, A. Bogaard et al.) Manuring and stable nitrogen isotope ratios in cereals and pulses: towards a new archaeobotanical approach to the inference of land use and dietary practices, Journal of Archaeological Science 38, 2790-2804.

2009 Studying the past in the present: archaeological engagement with modern Greece, in M. Llewellyn Smith, P. M. Kitromilidis and E. Calligas (eds.), Scholars, Travels, Archives. Greek History and Culture through the BSA (BSA Studies volume 17). London: British School at Athens, 201-15.

2009 (with T. H. E. Heaton, G. Jones and T. Tsipropoulos) Variations in the 13C/12C ratios of modern wheat grain, and implications for interpreting data from Bronze Age Assiros Toumba, Greece, Journal of Archaeological Science 36, 2224-33.

2008 Between a rock and a hard place: coping with marginal colonisation in the later Neolithic and early Bronze Age of Crete and the Aegean, in V. Isaakidou and P. Tomkins (eds.), Escaping the Labyrinth: Cretan Neolithic in Context (Sheffield Studies in Aegean Archaeology 8). Oxford: Oxbow, 229-57.

2007 Carcasses and commensality: investigating the social context of meat consumption in Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Greece, in C. Mee and J. Renard (eds.), Cooking up the Past: Food and Culinary Practices in the Neolithic and Bronze Age Aegean. Oxford: Oxbow, 25-48.

2006 What’s Ours is Mine? Village and Household in Early Farming Society in Greece (G.H Kroon Memorial Lecture 28). Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam.

2006 Sheep in the garden: the integration of crop and livestock husbandry in early farming regimes of Greece and southern Europe, in D. Serjeantson and D. Field (eds.), Animals in the Neolithic of Britain and Europe. Oxford: Oxbow, 42-55.

2005 (with I. Mainland) The economics of sheep and goat husbandry in Norse Greenland. Arctic Anthropology 42, 103-120.

2005 Resettling the Neolithic: faunal evidence for seasons of consumption and residence at Neolithic sites in Greece, in D. Bailey, A. Whittle and V. Cummings (eds.), (Un)settling the Neolithic. Oxford, Oxbow, 38-50.

2005 (with I. Mainland) The diet and management of domestic sheep and goats at Neolithic Makriyalos. In J. Davies, M. Fabis, I. Mainland, M. Richards and R. Thomas (eds.), Diet and Health in Past Animal Populations: Current Research and Future Directions. Oxford: Oxbow, 104-12.