Dr Umberto AlbarellaUmberto Albarella

Senior Lecturer in Zooarchaeology

On research leave for 2014/15


Laurea, PhD

Email address: u.albarella@sheffield.ac.uk

Telephone: +44 114 2222943

Department address

Department of Archaeology
University of Sheffield
Northgate House
West Street
Sheffield S1 4ET
United Kingdom


I have a first degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Naples (Italy), but I became interested in anthropology and then archaeology since I was a second year undergraduate student back in 1982. In the 80’s I was actively engaged in archaeological fieldwork in Italy and then became involved in a three year project funded by the Italian government that gave me the opportunity to study large assemblages of animal bones from urban Roman and medieval sites in Naples.

In 1991 I worked in England for the first time, thanks to a scholarship from the Institute of Archaeology (London). I then went back to Italy to teach Bioarchaeology at the University of Lecce but in 1993 I moved permanently back to England.

I worked at English Heritage (London) 1993-5, the University of Birmingham 1995-2000 and the University of Durham from 2000 to 2004, when I eventually moved to the University of Sheffield. I have had a great diversity of experiences in my career and my research has taken me to many different countries, but I love living and working in Sheffield, where I have created a vibrant research team in zooarchaeology. In addition to my interest in past human-animal relationships, which is my main area of research, I believe in the political responsibility of archaeologists towards issues of social justice.

Research interests

I am specialised in the study of animal bones from archaeological sites (zooarchaeology), but my research is wide-ranging and strongly oriented towards the integration of different aspects of archaeology. My work is predominantly based in Britain and Italy, but I have also worked in Armenia, Greece, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, France and Portugal. My main areas of research include:

  • Animal domestication and husbandry intensification
  • Ethnoarchaeology
  • Ritual use of animals
  • Husbandry evidence of Romanization
  • Animals and medieval life
  • Integration in archaeology
  • Archaeology and politics

Current research projects / collaborations

Research supervision

I am potentially interested in supervising any project with a substantial zooarchaeological component.

Current research students:

  • Lizzie Wright - The history of the European aurochs from the late Pleistocene to its extinction: an archaeological investigation of its evolution, morphological variability and response to human exploitation.
  • Angela Trentacoste - The Etruscans and their animals: the zooarchaeology of Forcello di Bagnolo San Vito, (Mantova) Italy.
  • Giorgos Kazantzis - Animal Exploitation during the Late Neolithic in the Strymon (Struma) valley: the case of the Greek sector
  • Idoia Grau (University of Basque Country) - Zooarchaeology of the Early Medieval Period in Northern Spain.
  • Jane Ford - Hyaenas and Neanderthals in the British Middle Palaeolithic
  • Lenny Salvagno - The neglected goat: a methodological approach to the understanding of the role of this species in English medieval husbandry
  • James Poland - A methodological approach to the identification of duck and goose remains from archaeological sites with an application to Roman Britain
  • Mikolaj Lisowski - The Identification of Jewish Patterns of Food Preparation and Consumption: a Zooarchaeological Approach to the Medieval and Early Modern Evidence from Central-Eastern Europe



  • Archaeozoology (coordinator)


  • Archaeozoology (coordinator)
  • Advanced Zooarchaeology (coordinator)
  • Osteoarchaeological Assemblage Analysis (coordinator)
  • Biomolecular Archaeology (coordinator)
  • Economic Archaeology
  • Method and Theory in Medieval Archaeology
  • Rethinking the Ancient Economy


Book chapters

  • Albarella U, Manconi F & Trentacoste A. 2011. A week on the plateau: pig husbandry, mobility and resource exploitation in central Sardinia. In U. Albarella & A. Trentacoste A. (eds.) 2011. Ethnozooarchaeology. The present and past of human-animal relationships, 143-59. Oxford: Oxbow Books.
  • Albarella U. 2010. Wild boar. In T.O’Connor & N.Sykes (eds.). Extinctions and Invasions: A Social History of British Fauna, pp.59-67. Oxford: Oxbow Books.
  • Albarella U & Davis S. 2010. The animal bones. In A.Chapman (ed.). West Cotton, Raunds: a study of medieval settlement dynamics AD 450-1450, pp.516-37. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

Journal articles

  • Rowley-Conwy P., Albarella U. & Dobney K. 2012. Distinguishing wild boar from domestic pig in prehistory: a review of approaches and recent results. Journal of World Prehistory 25, 1-44.
  • Davis S., Svensson, E., Albarella U., Detry C., Götherström A., Pires A.E. & Ginja C. 2012. Molecular and osteometric sexing of cattle metacarpals: a case study from 15th century AD Beja, Portugal. Journal of Archaeological Science 39, 1445-1454.
  • Masseti M., Albarella U. & De Grossi Mazzorin, J. 2011. The crested porcupine, Hystrix cristata L., 1758, in Italy. Anthropozoologica 45 (2). 27-42.
  • Viner S., Evans J., Albarella U. & Parker Pearson M. 2010. Cattle mobility in prehistoric Britain: strontium isotope analysis of cattle teeth from Durrington Walls (Wiltshire, Britain). Journal of Archaeological Science 37, 2812-20.
  • Albarella U., Dobney K. & Rowley-Conwy P. 2009. Size and shape of the Eurasian wild boar (Sus scrofa), with a view to the reconstruction of its Holocene history. Environmental Archaeology 14(2), 103-136.
  • Albarella, U. 2009. Archaeologists in Conflict: empathising with which victims? + A response to Malin-Boyce and Trimble. Heritage Management 2(1), 105-14 + 117-8.
  • Albarella U., Johnstone C. & Vickers, K. 2008. The development of animal husbandry from the Late Iron Age to the end of the Roman period: a case study from South-East Britain. Journal of Archaeological Science 35, 1828-48.

Full publications list

"Please note that many of my publications can be downloaded at the following link: Academia.edu"


  • July 2013: Meat consumption in medieval England: the archaeological evidence from low status rural sites (“Food in History. 82nd Anglo-American Conference of Historians”) [invited speaker]
  • July 2012: “Is Zooarchaeology relevant to Bird Conservation?” (Conference “The Birds and the Fishes: Archaeological Evidence and Wildlife Conservation”, University of Cambridge, UK). [invited speaker]
  • November 2011: “Abuse of power? People and animals in the history of civilisation”(Symposium “Of Mice and Men: use, respect, knowledge”, Naples, Italy) [invited speaker]
  • April 2010: “Land, Water, People, Animals: The evolution of livestock husbandry in medieval East Anglia” (Conference “East Anglia and its North Sea World”, Norwich, UK) [invited speaker]
  • August 2010: Organiser of the session “Animal husbandry across the Iron Age to Roman transition: archaeozoological evidence” also including presentation of the paper (with K.Vickers) “What did the Romans ever do for us? Culture contact, resistance and change in animal husbandry at the British Iron Age – Roman transition” (11th Conference of the International Council of Archaeozoology, Paris, France)
  • August 2010: “One step forward and two steps back: archaeology, DNA and the infantilization of research” (11th Conference of the International Council of Archaeozoology, Paris, France) [invited speaker]
  • April 2009: “Pig husbandry and pork consumption in medieval and post-medieval England: the archaeological evidence” (24th Leeds Symposium on Food History and Traditions, York, UK) [invited speaker]
  • April 2009: “Animal bones and human societies: approaches, methods and case studies” (V Reunió Internacional d’Arqueologia de Calafell. Economia agropecuària i canvi social a partir de les restes bioarqueològiques. El primer millenni aC a la Mediterrània occidental, Calafell, Spain) [invited keynote speaker]
  • July 2008: “A week on the plateau: ethnoarchaeological work on herders’ mobility in central Sardinia (Italy)” (World Archaeological Congress, Dublin, Ireland)
  • April 2008: “The archaeological evidence for late medieval innovations in animal husbandry” (Annual meeting of the British Agricultural History Society, University of Nottingham, UK) [invited speaker]

Full conference list

Other professional activities

Conference organisation

  • 2005: Co-organiser of the 2005 conference of the Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG) held in Sheffield 19th-22nd December 2005 (c.500 delegates)
  • 2003: Co-organiser of the international workshop Pigs and Humans held in Durham, 26th-28th September 2003 (c.50 delegates)
  • 2002: Co-organiser of the 9th Conference of the International Council of Archaeozoology (ICAZ), held in Durham 23rd-28th August 2002 (c500 delegates)

Role in professional and other cultural organizations

  • 2012 to present: Elected member of the Committee of Honour of the International Council of Archaeozoology (ICAZ).
  • 2012 to 2014: Scientific committee member of the 12th Conference of the International Council of Archaeozoology (ICAZ) to be held in San Rafael (Argentina).
  • 2011 to present: Invited member of the IUCN/SSC Wild Pig Specialist Group.
  • 2000 to present: Founder and co-owner of ZOOARCH, an email discussion list on zooarchaeology. This comprises almost 1,000 members worldwide and, over the years, has become a key tool of communication for the international community of zooarchaeologists.
  • 2005 to present: Co-founder of Archaeologists for Global Justice and co-owner of email discussion list Arch-Justice.
  • 2002 to present: Elected member of the International Committee of the International Council of Archaeozoology (ICAZ).
  • 2006 to 2012: Elected General Secretary and member of the Executive and Committee of the International Council of Archaeozoology (ICAZ).

Editorial boards

  • 2004 to 2012: book review editor and editorial board member of the journal Environmental Archaeology.
  • 2006 to present: editorial board member of the French journal Anthropozoologica.
  • 2012 to present: editorial board member of the Spanish journal Archaeofauna.
  • 2012 to present: editorial board member of the journal Medieval Archaeology
  • 2012 to present: editorial board member of the Oxbow Book series "Oxbow Insights in Archaeology"