Professor Robin DennellRobin Dennell

Emeritus Professor

Telephone: 0114 222 2911




Professor Robin Dennell, BA, Ph.D. held a Personal Chair in Archaeology until his retirement in 2010.

He obtained his undergraduate degree in archaeology and anthropology at Cambridge University in 1969, where he continued postgraduate study, obtaining his Ph.D. in 1977 (Topic: Early farming in South Bulgaria: VIth to IIIrd Millenium b.c. (see also British Archaeological Reports International Series S47).

Professional roles

After serving as Head of Department from 1999-2002, he was awarded a three-year British Academy Research Professorship (2003-2006), to undertake the writing of "The Early Hominin Settlement of Asia" (Cambridge University Press). This was the first overview of the Asian Early Palaeolithic and Pleistocene prior to the last interglacial, ca. 125 ka.


Research interests

For the first half of his career, he was primarily interested in archaeobotany, early farming, and the neolithic of Europe and Southwest Asia. He began teaching prehistoric archaeology at Sheffield in 1973, worked in Iran until 1978, and published a seminal work European Economic Prehistory: A New Approach in 1983, which was later translated into Spanish and Japanese.

He was made a Senior Lecturer in 1983, a Reader in 1994, and appointed a Professor in 1995. From 1981 to 1999, his main research was on the Palaeolithic and Pleistocene of Pakistan as part of a wider interest in early human evolution in Asia.

He began working in Pakistan in 1981, and was appointed Field Director of the British Archaeological Mission to Pakistan in 1988, eventually conducting 12 field seasons of fieldwork in northern Pakistan, spanning 24 months, with another 12 months of study trip.

This research has been published in several papers, and as two major monographs: Palaeolithic and Pleistocene Investigations in the Soan Valley, Northern Pakistan (with H. Rendell and M. Halim (1989); British Archaeological Reports (International series) 544, 1-346; and in 2004, Early Hominin Landscapes in Northern Pakistan: Investigations in the Pabbi Hills; British Archaeological Reports (International series) 1265, 1-454.


Full Publications list


1978 Early Farming in South Bulgaria from the VIth to IIIrd millennium b.c. British Archaeological Reports International Series 47. (183 pp. + 110 tables and 51 figs.)

1983 European Economic Prehistory: A New Approach. London/N.Y: Academic Press. (1984 - paperback version; 1987 - Spanish translation; 1995 - Japanese version)

Rendell, H.R., Dennell, R.W. and Halim, M. (1989) Pleistocene and Palaeolithic Investigations in the SoanValley, Northern Pakistan. British Archaeological Reports International Series 544. (364 pp., 110 figs).

M. Zvelebil, Dennell, R.W. and L. Domanska (eds.) (1998). Harvesting the Sea, Farming the Forest: Early Farming in the Baltic Region. (Proceedings of the Conference on Agricultural Origins in the Baltic Region, Bydgoscz, Poland, 1992). Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.

Dennell, R.W. 2004 Early Hominin Landscapes in Northern Pakistan: Investigations in the Pabbi Hills (with contributions from M. Anwar, M. Beech, R. Coard, L. Hurcombe, H. Rendell, and A. Turner). British Archaeological Reports International Series 1265: 1-454. (175 tables, 140 figures).


Dennell, R.W. 1970 Seeds from a medieval sewer in Woolster Street, Plymouth. Economic Botany 24, 151-154.

Dennell, R.W. 1972 Stone Age Farming in Bulgaria. Illustrated London News, September, 61-62.

Dennell, R.W. 1972 The interpretation of plant remains: Bulgaria. In Papers in Economic Prehistory, ed. E. S. Higgs, 149-159. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dennell, R.W. 1973 The phylogenesis of Triticum dicoccum: a reconsideration. Economic Botany 27, 329-331.

Dennell, R.W. and Legge, A.J. 1973 The plant remains from Nahal Oren, Israel. In Recent excavations at Nahal Oren, Israel, by Noy, T., Legge, A. J. and Higgs, E. S. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 39, 75-99.

Dennell, R.W. 1974 Neolithic flax in Bulgaria. Antiquity 48, 220-222.

Dennell, R.W. 1974 Botanical evidence for prehistoric crop processing activities. Journal of Archaeological Science. 1, 275-284.

Dennell, R.W. 1974 The purity of prehistoric crops. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 40, 132-135.

Dennell, R.W. and Webley, D. 1975 Prehistoric settlement and land use in southern Bulgaria. In Palaeoeconomy, ed. E. S. Higgs, 97-108. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dennell, R.W. 1975 The economic development of Bulgaria during the neolithic and Bronze Age. In Proceedings of the 1st International Congress of Thracology, Sofia, 33-37, ed. V. I. Georgiev.

Dennell, R.W. 1976 Prehistoric crop cultivation in southern England: a reconsideration. Antiquaries Journal 56 (1), 11-23.

Dennell, R.W. 1976 The economic importance of plant resources represented on archaeological sites. Journal of Archaeological Science. 3, 229-247.

Dennell, R.W. 1977 Proba ot ovbghleno zhito ot selishnata Mogilia Pri Grad Ruse. Godishnik Na Muzeite Ot Severna Bulgaria, 1977, 46-48.

Dennell, R.W. 1977 On the problems of studying prehistoric climate and climate change. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 43, 361-137.

Dennell, R.W. 1978 Archaeobotany and early farming in Europe. Archaeology 31 (1), 8-17.

Webley, D. and Dennell, R.W. 1978 Palaeonematology: some recent evidence from neolithic Bulgaria. Antiquity 52, 136-137.

Dennell, R.W. 1979 Prehistoric diet and nutrition: some food for thought. World Archaeology 11 (2), 121-135.

Dennell, R.W. 1979 Economic archaeology. In The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Archaeology, ed. A. G. Sherratt, 38-42. London: Trewin Copplestone Ltd.

Dennell, R.W. 1980 The use, abuse and potential of site catchment analysis. In Catchment Analysis: Essays on Prehistoric Resource Space, eds. F. J. Findlow and J. E. Ericson, 1-20. Los Angeles: Anthropology UCLA.

Brookes, I. and L. D. Levine, L.D. and Dennell, R.W. 1982 Alluvial sequence in Central West Iran and implications for archaeological survey. Journal of Field Archaeology 9, 285-299.

Dennell, R.W. 1982 Wadi siltation and irrigation agriculture in the Touran protected area, N.E. Iran. In Dessertification: Its Causes and Control, eds. B. Spooner and M. Mann, 171-200. London: Academic Press.

Dennell, R.W. 1982 Archaeology and desertification. In Desertification: Its Causes and Control eds. B. Spooner and M. Mann, 43-60. London: Academic Press.

Dennell, R.W. 1983 Preliminary report on the early prehistoric occupation of the Potwar Plateau, northern Pakistan. In South Asian Archaeology (Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on asian Archaeology), ed. B. Allchin, 10-19. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dennell, R.W. 1983 On Mousterian chronology and Neanderthal evolution. Nature 301, 199-200.

Limbrey, S., Edwards, K. and Dennell, R.W. 1984 Editorial. Journal of Archaeological Science 10 (3), 1-2.

Dennell, R.W. 1984 The expansion of exogenous-based economies across Europe: the Balkans and central Europe. In Exploring the Limits: Frontiers and Boundaries in Prehistory, eds. S. P. de Atley and F. J. Findlow, 93-115. British Archaeological Reports (International Series 223).

Dennell, R.W. 1984 The hunter-gatherer/agricultural frontier in prehistoric temperate Europe. In The Archaeology of Frontiers and Boundaries, eds. S. Green and J. Perlman, 113-139. London & New York: Academic press.

Rendel1, H. and Dennell, R.W. 1985 Dated lower Palaeolithic artefacts from northern Pakistan. Current Anthropology 26 (3), 393.

Dennell, R.W. 1985 The archaeology of check-dam farming in Tauran, Iran. In Prehistoric Intensive Agriculture in the Tropics, ed. I.S. Farrington, 699-715. British Archaeological Reports (International Series) 232.

Dennell, R.W. 1985 Comment on Siberian palaeolithic archaeology: approaches and analytic methods by A. Dolitsky. Current Anthropology 26 (3), 370.

Dennell, R.W. 1986 Botanical remains from Woolster Street, Plymouth. In Woolster Street excavations 1963-1975, ed. C. Gaskell-Brown, 74-76. Plymouth Museum Archaeological Series 3..

Higgins, V. and Dennell, R.W. 1986 Faunal remains from Woolster Street, Plymouth. In Woolster Street excavations 1963-1975, ed. C. Gaskell-Brown, 77-85. Plymouth Museum Archaeological Series 3.

Dennell, R.W. 1986 L'origine de l'agriculture en Europe. La Récherche 17, 480-488.

Dennell, R.W. 1986 Needles and Spear-throwers. Natural History 95 (10), 70-78.

Dennell, R.W. 1987 Accelerator dating: the first years reviewed. Antiquity 61 (231), 137-138.

Rendell, H. and Dennell, R.W. 1987 Asian axe 2 Million Years Old. Geographical Magazine 59 (6), 270-272.

Rendell, H. and Dennell, R.W. 1987 The dating of an upper pleistocene archaeological site at Riwat, northern Pakistan. Geoarchaeology 1, 6-12.

Dennell, R.W. 1987 Geography and prehistoric subsistence. In Landscape and Culture, ed. J. M. Wagstaff, 56-76. Oxford: Blackwells.

Rendell, H., Hailwood, W. and Dennell, R.W. 1987 Magnetic polarity stratigraphy of Upper Siwalik Sub-Group, Soan Valley, Pakistan: implications for early human occupance of Asia. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 85: 488-496).

Dennell, R.W., Rendell, H. and Hailwood, E. 1988. Early tool-making in Asia : two-million year-old artefacts in Pakistan. Antiquity 62: 98-106.

Dennell, R.W., Rendell, H. and Hailwood, E. 1988 Late Pliocene artefacts in Pakistan. Current Anthropology 29 (3): 495-498.

Allchin, B. and Dennell, R.W. 1988 1987 report of the British Archaeological Mission to Pakistan palaeolithic project. South Asian Studies 10: 145-147.

Dennell, R.W., Rendell, H. and Hailwood, E. 1989 Artefacts du Pliocene tardif dans le nord du Pakistan. L'Anthropologie 92 (3): 927-930.

Dennell, R.W. 1989 Report of the British Archaeological Mission to Pakistan 1980-89. Man and Environment 14 (1): 129-131.

Dennell, R.W. 1989 Reply to "Early artefacts from Pakistan? Some questions for the excavators" by M. Hemingway and D. Stapert. Current Anthropology 30 (3): 318-322.

Dennell, R.W. 1989 Comment on "Hominid use of fire in the lower and middle Pleistocene" by S. R. James. Current Anthropology 30 (1): 11-13.

Jenkinson, R., Dennell, R.W., Rendell, H. M., Jah, A. and S. Sutherland, S. 1989 Upper Siwalik palaeoenvironments and palaeoecology in the Pabbi Hills, Northern Pakistan. Zeitschrift fur Geomorphologie 33 (4): 417-428.

Dennell, R.W. 1990 Progressive gradualism, imperialism, and academic fashion: Lower Palaeolithic archaeology in the twentieth century. Antiquity 64: 549-558.

Dennell, R.W., Hurcombe, L., Rendell, H. and Jenkinson, R. 1990 Preliminary results of the Palaeolithic programme of the British Archaeological Mission to Pakistan, 1983-1987. In South Asian Archaeology 1987. (Proceedings of the International Conference of South Asian Archaeologists in Western Europe, Venice, July 1987), ed. M. Taddei and P. Callieri, 17-29.

Dennell, R.W. 1991 Report of the British Archaeological Mission's Potwar Project for the year 1989-90. South Asian Studies 7: 161-165.

Dennell, R.W. 1991 Pakistan's Prehistory: A Glimpse at the First Two Million Years. British Archaeological Mission to Pakistan Series 3: Ancient India and Iran Trust, Cambridge, pp. 1-44.

Dennell, R.W., Rendell, H., Halim, M. and Moth, E. 1991 Site 55, Riwat: a 42,000 yr.-bp. open-air palaeolithic site from northern Pakistan. Journal of Field Archaeology 19: 17-33.

Dennell, R.W. and Rendell, H. 1991 De Terra and Paterson, and the Soan flake industry: a perspective from the Soan Valley, Pakistan. Man and Environment 16 (2): 91-99.

Dennell, R.W. 1992 Comment on "Piltdown: An appraisal of the case against Sir Arthur Keith" by P. V. Tobias. Current Anthropology 33 (3): 263.

Dennell, R.W. 1992 The origins of European crop agriculture. In The Origins of Crop Agriculture (eds.) P. J. Watson and W. Cowan, 71-100. Washington: Smithsonian Institute Publications.

Dennell, R.W. 1992 Comment on "Dense forests, cold steppes, and the palaeolithic settlement of northern Europe" by W. Roebroeks, N.J. Conrad and T. van Kolfschoten. Current Anthropology 33 (5): 568-569.

Dennell, R.W. and Hurcombe, L.M. 1993 Paterson, the British Clactonian and the Soan Flake Industry: a re-evaluation of the early palaeolithic of northern Pakistan. In South Asian Archaeology 1989. (Proceedings of the International Conference of South Asian Archaeologists in Western Europe, Paris, July 1989), ed. C. Jarrige: 69-72.

Hurcombe, L.M. and Dennell, R.W. 1993 A Pre-Acheulean in the Pabbi Hills, northern Pakistan? In South Asian Archaeology 1989 (Proceedings of the International Conference of South Asian Archaeologists in Western Europe, Paris, July 1989), ed. C. Jarrige: 133-136.

Dennell, R.W., Hurcombe, L.M., Coard, R., Beech, M., Anwar, M. and ul Haq, S. 1992 The 1990 field season of the British Archaeological Mission to Pakistan in the Baroth area of the Pabbi Hills, northern Pakistan. South Asian Archaeology 1991 (Proceedings of the Conference of South Asian Archaeologists in Europe, Berlin, July 1991), 1-14.

Dennell, R.W. 1993 Evidence on human origins: a rediscovered source in the Upper Siwaliks of northern Pakistan. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews 18 (4): 379-389.

Dennell, R.W., Rendell, H.M., Hurcombe, L. and E.A. Hailwood 1994 Archaeological evidence for hominids in northern Pakistan before one million years ago. Courier Forschungs-Institut Senckenberg 171: 151-155.

Dennell, R.W. 1994 Comments on "Technology and society during the Middle Pleistocene: Hominid group size, social learning and industrial variability" by S. Mithen. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 4 (1): 24-25.

Dennell, R.W. 1995 Do human origins lie only in Africa? New evidence from northern Pakistan. Cranium 12 (1): 21-24.

Coard, R. and Dennell, R.W. 1995 Taphonomy of some articulated skeletal remains: transport potential in an artificial environment. Journal of Archaeological Science 22: 441 - 448.

Dennell, R.W. 1995 Ethnicity, archaeology and European prehistory. Scottish Archaeological Review 9/10: 88 - 95.

Dennell, R.W. 1995 The early stone age of Pakistan: a methodological review. Man and Environment: 20 (1): 21 - 28.

Dennell, R.W. and Hurcombe, L.M. 1995 Comment on Pedra Furada. Antiquity 69: 604-5.

Dennell, R.W. 1995 Ethicity, archaeology and European prehistory: Lilliluput revisited. Scottish Archaeological Review 1-8.

Dennell, R.W. 1996 Nationalism and identity in Britain and Europe. In Nationalism and Archaeology, ed. J.A. Atkinson, I. Banks and J. O´Sullivan, 22-34.

Dennell, R.W. and Roebroeks, W. 1996 The earliest colonisation of Europe: the short chronology revisited. Antiquity 70: 535-542.

Dennell, R.W. 1997 Life at the sharp end: The world´s oldest spears. Nature 385: 767-768.

Dennell, R.W. 1997 World´s oldest spears revolutionise theories on early man. Minerva 8 (3): 5-6.

Dennell, R.W. 1998 Grasslands, tool-making and the earliest colonization of south Asia: a reconsideration. In Early Human Behavior in Global Context: The Rise and Diversity of the Lower Palaeolithic Record, 280-303, edited by M. Petraglia and R. Korisettar. London: Routledge.

Dennell, R.W. 1999 The TD6 horizon of Atapuerca and the earliest colonisation of Europe: an Asian perspective. In Los primeros pobladores de Europa/The First Europeans, ed. E. Carbonell, Bermudez de Castro, J.M., Arsuaga, J.L. and Rodriguez, X.P. (1999). Burgos, Spain, 75-97.

Dennell, R.W. 1999 Hunter-gatherer societies. In The Companion Encyclopedia of Archaeology Volume 2, ed. G. Barker. London and New York: Routledge, 797-838.

Dennell, R.W. 1999 The Palaeolithic and Pleistocene potential of the Indus drainage system: a review of recent work. In The IndusRiver: Biodiversity, Resources, Humankind, ed. A. and P. Meadows, 306-319. Linnaean Society, London/Karachi: Oxford University Press.

Hawcroft, J. and Dennell, R.W. 2000 Neanderthal cognitive history and implications for material culture. In Children and Material Culture, ed. J.S. Derevenski, 89-99. London and New York: Routledge.

Dennell, R.W. 2001 From Sangiran to Olduvai, 1937-1960: the quest for "centres" of hominid origins in Asia and Africa. In Studying Human Origins: Disciplinary History and Epistemology, ed. R. Corbey and W. Roebroeks, 45-66. Amersterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Dennell, R.W. 2001 Palaeolithic studies in India since Independence: from an outsider´s point of view. Bulletin of the DeccanCollege for Post-graduate Study 60-61: 175-188. (Invited paper as part of the 50th anniversary of India´s Independence). This was also published as:

Dennell, R.W. 2002 The Indian Palaeolithic since Independence: an outsider´s assessment. In Recent Studies in Indian Archaeology, ed. K. Paddayya. Indian Council of Historical Research Monograph Series 6, 1-16. Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Ltd.

Dennell, R.W. 2003 Dispersal and colonisation, long and short chronologies: how continuous is the Early Pleistocene record for hominids outside East Africa? Journal of Human Evolution 45: 421-440.

Hackett, A. and Dennell, R.W. (2003) Neanderthals as fiction in archaeological narrative. Antiquity 77: 816-827.

Dennell, R.W. 2004 Hominid dispersals and Asian biogeography during the Lower and Early Middle Pleistocene, ca. 2.0 - 0.5 Mya Asian Perspectives 43 (2): 205-226. (6,000 words)

Dennell, R.W. 2005 Early Pleistocene hippopotamid extinctions, monsoonal climates, and river system histories in South and South West Asia: comment on Jablonski (2004) "The hippo´s tale: how the anatomy and physiology of Late Neogene Hexaprotodon shed light on Late Neogene environmental change" Quaternary International 117, 119-123. Quaternary International 126-128: 283-287.

Dennell, R.W., Coard, R., Beech, M., Anwar, M. and Turner, A. 2005 Locality 642, an Upper Siwalik (Pinjor Stage) fossil accumulation in the Pabbi Hills, Pakistan. Journal of the Palaeontological Society of India 50 (1): 83-92.

Dennell, R.W. 2005 The Solo (Ngandong) Homo erectus assemblage: a taphonomic assessment. Archaeology in Oceania 40: 81-90.

Dennell, R.W. 2005 Comment on: "Modern human origins and the evolution of behaviour in the Later Record Pleistocene of South Asia" by H.V.A. James and M.D. Petraglia (Current Anthropology 46 (Supplement): 1-16. Current Anthropology 46 (Supplement): 17-18.

Dennell, R.W. and Roebroeks, W. 2005 Out of Africa: An Asian perspective on early human dispersal from Africa. Nature 438: 1099-1104.

Book Review: Dennell, R.W. and Pettitt, P. 2005 Review of "The Early Upper Palaeolithic beyond Western Europe ", ed. P.J. Brantingham, S.L. Kuhn and K.W. Kerry. Berkeley : University of California Press. American Journal of Archaeology

Dennell, R.W., Coard, R., Beech, M., Anwar, M. and Turner, A. 2005 Two Upper Siwalik (Pinjor Stage) fossil accumulations from localities 73 and 362 in the Pabbi Hills, Pakistan. Journal of the Palaeontological Society of India 50 (2): 101-111.

Dennell R.W., Coard, R. and Turner, A. 2006 The biostratigraphy and magnetic polarity zonation of the Pabbi Hills, northern Pakistan : an Upper Siwalik (Pinjor Stage) Plio-Pleistocene fluvial sequence. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology and Palaeoecolog y 234: 168-185.

Dennell, R.W. 2006 Ordos Man and Inner Mongolia. Past: Newsletter of the Prehistoric Society 54: 11-13.

Dennell, R.W. 2007 Archaeological Archives from Asia, 2.7 MYR – 300,000 years ago. Chapter 385, Elsevier Encyclopedia of Quaternary Science, 73-89.

In press:

Dennell, R.W. "Resource-rich, stone-poor": early hominin land use in large river systems of northern India and Pakistan. In "The Evolution and Diversity of Humans in South Asia", edited by M. Petraglia and B. Allchin, pp. 41-68. Springer.

Petraglia, M.D. and Dennell, R.W. (365) The Archaeology of Global Expansion 300,000-8000 years ago: Asia . Chapter 365, Elsevier Encyclopedia of Quaternary Science.

Dennell, R.W. The taphonomic record of Late Pliocene and Early Pleistocene landscapes in the the Pabbi Hills, northern Pakistan, and its implications on the preservation of hominin remains. (6,600 words) Quaternary International.

Dennell, R.W., Coard, R. and Turner, A. Predators and scavengers in Early Pleistocene southern Asia. (6,700 words) Quaternary International