Department of Archaeology and Ancient History

Paul Lane

Paul Lane joined the department in April 2013 as Professor of Global Archaeology. He is an archaeologist with over twenty-five years’ research experience in Africa His main research interests are in the organisation and use of space and time in pre-industrial societies, the historical ecology of African landscapes, the archaeology of colonial encounters, cultural perceptions of place, the materialisation of memory, maritime archaeology and the transition to farming in Africa.

In his spare time, he also works on aspects of the European Mesolithic, and until he moved to Kenya he assisted on the Vale of Pickering Research Trust’s annual surveys and excavations on a regular basis. He did his undergraduate degree at Cambridge University, where he specialised in later European prehistory. He returned to Cambridge to do his doctoral research, which consisted of an ethnoarchaeological study of space and time among the Dogon in Mali, West Africa, receiving his PhD in 1986. After a few years working in industrial archaeology and countryside interpretation in the UK, he took up a lectureship in archaeology at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in 1989. In 1992, he moved to a post at the University of Botswana, where he taught archaeology and museum studies and with colleagues was responsible for setting up and developing the first degree programme in archaeology at the university, remaining there until mid-1997.

He was Director of the British Institute in Eastern Africa, based in Nairobi, for eight years from 1998-2006, where he conducted research on the transition to farming around Lake Victoria, histories of soil erosion in northern Tanzania, the historical archaeology of Luo settlement, the maritime archaeology of the Indian Ocean coast, and the archaeology of pastoralist societies on the Laikipia Plateau, Kenya. He moved to the University of York in the UK in 2007, where he was director and coordinator of the four-year Historical Ecologies of East African Landscapes (HEEAL) project is funded by the EU through a Marie Curie Excellence Grant. This explored the environmental and social consequences of the intensification of agriculture, herding and the emergence of specialised hunting from c. 1500 AD in eastern Africa, so as to refine current understanding of the historical ecology of the region’s changing landscapes. [More information: Brief overview and poster, excerpt from Society for Landscape Studies Newsletter].

He currently coordinates the four-year Resilience in East African Landscapes (REAL) Marie Curie Initial Training Network, which is hosted by Uppsala University, launched in September 2013. [More information]. He is also an Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies, University of the Witwatersrand.

His recent publications include:

Paul Lane 2014. The archaeological potential for the history of labor relations in East Africa, ca. 1500–1900. History in Africa 41: 227-306.

Paul Lane 2014. Presencing the past: Implications for bridging the history-prehistory divide. In S. Mrozowski and P.R. Schmidt (eds) The End of Prehistory. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 47-66.

Paul Lane 2014. Hunter-gatherer-fishers, ethnoarchaeology and analogical reasoning. In V. Cummings, P. Jordan and M. Zvelebil (eds) Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology and Anthropology of Hunter-Gatherers. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 104-50. DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199551224.013.024.

Paul Lane and Patricia Fournier (eds) 2014. Section: Historical Archaeology. In C. Smith (ed.) Encyclopaedia of Global Archaeology. New York: Springer.

Peter Mitchell and Paul Lane (eds) 2013. Handbook of African Archaeology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Paul Lane 2013. Trajectories to pastoralism in northern and central Kenya: an overview of the archaeological and environmental evidence. In M. Bollig, M. Schnegg and Hans-Peter Wotzka (eds). Pastoralism in Africa: Past, Present and Future. Oxford: Berghahn, 105-143.

Rob Marchant & Paul Lane 2013. Past perspectives for the future: foundations for sustainable development in East Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science.

Paul Lane and Kevin MacDonald (eds) 2011. Slavery in Africa: Archaeology and Memory. London: Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Academy (Proceedings of the British Academy 168).