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Overview

Dr Benjamin Roberts

Associate Professor

B.Sc., M.Phil., Ph.D.,


Affiliations
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Associate Professor in the Department of Archaeology237 

Biography

I completed my PhD on the Origins and Early Development of Metallurgy in Western Europe at the University of Cambridge in early 2007. I subsequently worked until mid 2012 at the British Museum as the Curator for the European Bronze Age collections. This was a wide ranging role which, in addition to the existing museum collections, also encompassed the recording of Bronze Age hoards found by metal-detecting in England and the researching and co-writing of 41 programmes in the British Museum/BBC Radio 4 series and accompanying book A History of the World in 100 Objects

My research focuses on understanding the transmission of new objects and technologies in northwest and southeast Europe from the Neolithic to the Early Iron Age. 

I am currently the Principle Investigator of the Leverhulme funded project Project Ancient Tin which is investigating whether the exceptionally rich tin deposits in Cornwall and Devon underpinned the massive technological and cultural change from copper to full tin-bronze use across Europe. 

I was co-Investigator on a major AHRC funded project The Rise of Metallurgy in Eurasia, an international and interdisciplinary project exploring copper production sites in Serbia which have produced the earliest evidence for metallurgy in the world. I was the co-Director of the HLF funded and crowdfunded Barrowed Time project in northwest England in collaboration with DigVentures and the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

I am also involved with numerous smaller projects in Britain ranging from Bronze Age barrows (Reffley Wood) to Bronze Age shipwrecks (Salcombe) to a Late Iron Age hoards (Salisbury).

I am also interested in the impact of Treasure Act (1996, 2002) and the Portable Antiquities Scheme and the communication of archaeology in museums. My teaching covers courses on Later Prehistoric Europe as well as on Museum Archaeology.

PhD student research

I am keen to supervise postgraduate research on any area related to the European Neolithic-Bronze Age as well as Museum Archaeology. Past students have undertaken topics such as:

Ian Colquhoun (2015) The Bronze Swords of Ireland (awarded posthumously)

Edward Caswell (2020) A Place called Home: Understanding Bronze Age (c. 2400-800 cal BC) Settlement in Britain (now Finds Liasion Officer for Oxfordshire)

Felicity McDowall (2020) A visual and visitor-based analysis of the presentation of prehistory in museum displays across England (now Public Engagement with Research Evaluation Officer for Oxford University Museums)

Research interests

  • Neolithic, Bronze Age and Early Iron Age archaeology of Britain and western Europe
  • Origins and early development of metal
  • Cultural connections from the spanning Europe, North Africa and Asia c. 5000–500 BC
  • Archaeology, Museums and Popular Communication

Research groups

Awarded Grants

  • 2020: Did British Tin Sources and Trade Make Bronze Age Europe?(£309084.52 from Leverhulme Trust)
  • 2012: The rise of metallurgy in Eurasia: Evolution, organisation and consumption of early metal in the Balkans(£38476.56 from Arts and Humanities Research Council)

Esteem Indicators

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • European Prehistory:

Publications

Authored book

Chapter in book

  • Caswell, E. & Roberts, B.W. (2022). Booms and Busts in settlement chronologies: creating a new model for the use of Bronze Age settlements in the British Bronze Age. In Mesurer le temps à l'âge du Bronze: Journée thématique de l'APRAB, Mar 2020, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France. Marcigny, C.,, Lachenal, T., Milcent, P.-Y., Mordant, C., Peake, R., & Talon, M. Association pour la Promotion des Recherches sur l'Âge du Bronze. 8: 157-168.
  • O’Connor, B., Roberts, B.W. & Wilkin, N. (2017). The Ornament Horizon revisited: new and old finds of Middle Bronze Age ornaments in southern England. In Le Bronze moyen et l'origine du Bronze final en Europe occidentale, de la Mer du Nord à la Méditerranée (XVIIe-XIIIe siècle avant notre ère). Lachenal T.,, Mordant C., Nicolas T., & Véber C Mémoires d’Archéologie du Grand-Est 1. 267-282.
  • Wang, Q., Uckelmann, M., Roberts, B.W. & La Niece, S. (2016). Technical Study of British Bronze Age Shields in the British Museum. In Metals 2016. Proceedings of the interim meeting of the ICOM-CC metals working group. Menon, R., Chemello, C. & Pandya, A. ICOM-CC. 53-60.
  • Warden, K., Caswell, E. & Roberts, B.W. (2016). Funerary fragments between the rivers: analysing the evidence for the dead in the Tyne–Forth region during the Late Bronze Age (c. 1150–800 BC). In Prehistory without Borders: Prehistoric Archaeology of the Tyne-Forth Region. Crellin, Rachel, Fowler, Chris & Tipping, Richard Oxbow. 156-167.
  • Roberts, B.W. & Frieman, C. (2015). Early Metallurgy in Western and Northern Europe. In The Oxford Handbook of Neolithic Europe. Fowler, C., Harding, J. & Hofmann, D. Oxford University Press. 711-728.
  • Thornton, C.P. & Roberts, B.W. (2014). Introduction. In Archaeometallurgy in Global Perspective: Methods and Syntheses. Roberts, B.W. & Thornton, C.P. Springer. 1-10.
  • Roberts, B.W. Uckelmann, M. & Brandherm, D. (2013). Old Father Time: the chronology of the Bronze Age in Western Europe. In The Oxford Handbook of Bronze Age Europe. H. Fokkens & A. Harding Oxford University Press. 17-46.
  • Roberts, B.W. (2013). Farmers in the Landscape or Heroes on the High Seas: Britain and Ireland in the Bronze Age. In Oxford Handbook of Bronze Age Europe. Fokkens, H. & Harding, A. Oxford University Press. 531-549.
  • Roberts, B.W. & Frieman, C. (2012). Drawing boundaries and building models: investigating the concept of the ‘Chalcolithic frontier’ in Northwest Europe. In Is there a British Chalcolithic: people, place and polity in the later 3rd millennium. Allen, M. Gardiner,J. & Sheridan, A. Oxbow. 27-39.
  • Roberts, B.W. & Vander Linden, M. (2011). Introduction. In Investigating Archaeological Cultures: Material Culture, Variability and Transmission. Roberts, B.W. & Vander Linden, M. 1-23.
  • Vander Linden, M. & Roberts, B.W. (2011). A Tale of Two Countries: Contrasting Archaeological Culture History in British and French Archaeology. In Investigating Archaeological Cultures: Material Culture, Variability and Transmission. Roberts, B.W. & Vander Linden, M. Springer. 23-40.
  • Roberts, B. W. (2011). Ancient Technology and Archaeological Cultures: understanding the earliest metallurgy in Eurasia. In Investigating Archaeological Cultures: material culture, variability and transmission. Roberts, B.W. & Vander Linden, M. 137-150.
  • Roberts, B.W. (2009). Origins, Transmission and Traditions: analysing early metal in Western Europe. In Metals and Societies. Studies in honour of Barbara S. Ottaway. Kienlin,T.L. & Roberts, B.W. Habelt. 129-142.
  • Roberts, B.W. (2009). Subsistence, Structures and Craftworking: analysing economic dynamics in Britain 2500-800 BC. In The Economic Foundations of the European Bronze Age. Bartelheim, M. & Stäuble, H. Verlag Marie Leidorf. 65-84.
  • Ottaway, B.S. & Roberts, B.W. (2008). The Emergence of Metallurgy. In Prehistoric Europe: Theory and Practice. Jones, A. Blackwell. 193-225.
  • Roberts, B.W. (2008). The Bronze Age. In The Handbook of British Archaeology. Atkins, L., Atkins, R. & Leitch, V. Constable and Robinson. 60-91.

Edited book

Journal Article

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • Roberts, B.W. & Veysey, C. (2011). Trading Places. British Museum Magazine 70: 44-45.

Supervision students