Professor KEITH DOBNEY The University of Aberdeen Geosciences Professor KEITH DOBNEY Chair in Human Palaeoecology work +44 (0)1224 272634 pref Department of Archaeology University of Aberdeen St. Mary's, Elphinstone Road Aberdeen AB24 3UF Scotland

Chair in Human Palaeoecology

BA (Lancaster), MSc (London), PhD (Bradford)


Contact Details

Telephone: +44 (0)1224 272634

Address: Department of Archaeology
University of Aberdeen
St. Mary's, Elphinstone Road
Aberdeen AB24 3UF


Professor Dobney began his zooarchaeological career working as a Research Assistant to Don Brothwell at the Institute of Archaeology in London. Early research into human and animal palaeopathology and zooarchaeology led to a PhD in Archaeological Science at the University of Bradford, to freelance work in Britain and the Middle East, then to a research post funded by English Heritage at the Environmental Archaeology Unit, University of York. From the EAU in York, Keith moved to the Archaeology Department at Durham University where he held two consecutive Wellcome Trust Bioarchaeology Research Fellowships from 2000-2008. He became a Reader in the Archaeology Department at Durham prior to being appointed in Aberdeen in 2009.

For the last 25 years, Keith has been actively involved in bioarchaeological research in Britain, the Middle East, Central Asia and Central America, and since 2000, has developed international collaborative research in East Asia and Oceania. With the main material focus of his work being the study of animal and human remains, Keith's research incorporates a broad temporal and geographic spread, and involves the use of traditional and novel techniques and approaches.

Keith has organised several major international conferences and workshops, has been invited to give research seminars and presentations at academic and research institutions across the world and has held several visiting research fellowships at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. and the Australian National University in Canberra. He is currently one of two project leaders of a CNRS funded Projet de Groupement De Recherche Européen (GDRE) entitled - BIOARCH- Bioarchaeological Investigations of the Interactions between Holocene Human Societies and their Environments - and the Director of a recently funded Co-Reach Chinese-European research grouping (EUCH-BIOARCH).

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Research Interests

Principal research themes include the origins of agriculture, the domestication of animals, human and animal dispersal, diet and health, palaeopathology and palaeoeconomics.

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Research Grants



Wellcome Trust – The bioarchaeology of pig domestication and husbandry: its role in the biological, economic and social development of complex human society.



Appointment as a Smithsonian Institution Short-term Visitor at the National Museum of Natural History, Washington DC.



Royal Society and Armenian Academy of Science. Visiting Fellowship to Durham for Dr Ninna Manaseryan



Wellcome Trust - Travelling companions and unwelcome guests: an integrated zooarchaeological and biomolecular approach to human dispersal and exchange networks in the Holocene.



Appointment as a Smithsonian Institution Short-term Visitor at the National Museum of Natural History, Washington DC.



Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professorship for Professor Jing Yuan, Institute of Archaeology, CASS, Beijing.



AHRC - The prehistoric origins of Orcadian cultural exchange networks: biomolecular and morphometric studies of Orkney voles (co P.I.'s - Profs Jeremy Searle and Paul O'Higgins, University of York).



English Heritage – Completion of monograph entitled: Farmers, Monks and Aristocrats.



Daiwa Foundation - Morphometric variation and dental enamel defects in the teeth of ancient island populations of Japanese wild boar (Sus scrofa) as a proxy for studying human interaction in the Jomon period.



AHRC - co PI - The origin and spread of stock-keeping in the Near East and Europe – a new database approach (P.I. Prof. Stephen Shennan, Institute of Archaeology UCL.



P.I. for RCUK Fellowship -  Ancient DNA and human dispersal – Research Councils



Leverhulme Trust – Pigs, people and the Neolithisation of Europe – returned after award of NERC grant below.



NERC - Pigs, people and the Neolithisation of Europe – co i's Dr Greger Larson, Dr Una Strand-Vidardottir, Prof. Rus Hoelzel



NERC – Tied studentship linked with funded project - Pigs, people and the neolithisation of Europe



Leverhulme Trust - PhD studentship (and associated indirect costs) to work on Ancient DNA









Co-Reach (with Institute of Archaeology, Beijing, Natural History Museum Paris & Max Planck Institute, Leipzig) – European-Chinese Bioarchaeology Collaboration (EUCH-BIOARCH) – Contributing to a Broader Agenda.

NERC - Reconsidering Austronesian Homeland and Dispersal Models using Genetic and Morphological Signatures of Domestic Animals - joint with Durham University - co-i's Dr Greger, Larson, Dr Thomas Cucchi and Dr Una Strand-Vidarsdottir.


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Contributions to Journals


  • Evin, A., Flink, LG., Bălăşescu, A., Popovici, D., Andreescu, R., Bailey, D., Mirea, P., Lazăr, C., Boroneanţ, A., Bonsall, C., Vidarsdottir, US., Brehard, S., Tresset, A., Cucchi, T., Larson, G. & Dobney, K. (2015). 'Unravelling the complexity of domestication: a case study using morphometrics and ancient DNA analyses of archaeological pigs from Romania'. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol 370, no. 1660, 20130616.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2013.0616
  • Owen, J., Dobney, K., Evin, A., Cucchi, T., Larson, G. & Strand-Vidarsdottir, U. (2014). 'The zooarchaeological application of quantifying cranial shape differences in wild boar and domestic pigs (Sus scrofa) using 3D geometric morphometrics'. Journal of Archaeological Science, vol 43, pp. 159-167.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2013.12.010
    [Online] AURA: The_zooarchaeological_application_of_quantifying.pdf
  • Thomson, VA., Lebrasseur, O., Austin, JJ., Hunt, TL., Burney, DA., Denham, T., Rawlence, NJ., Wood, JR., Gongora, J., Girdland Flink, L., Linderholm, A., Dobney, K., Larson, G. & Cooper, A. (2014). 'Using ancient DNA to study the origins and dispersal of ancestral Polynesian chickens across the Pacific'. PNAS, vol 111, no. 13, pp. 4826-4831.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1320412111
  • Girdland Flink, L., Allen, R., Barnett, R., Malmstrom, H., Peters, J., Eriksson, J., Andersson, L., Dobney, K. & Larson, G. (2014). 'Establishing the validity of domestication genes using DNA from ancient chickens'. PNAS, vol 111, no. 17, pp. 6184-6189.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1308939110
  • Cucchi, T., Barnett, R., Martínková, N., Renaud, S., Renvoisé, E., Evin, A., Sheridan, A., Mainland, I., Wickham-Jones, C., Tougard, C., Quéré, JP., Pascal, M., Pascal, M., Heckel, G., O'Higgins, P., Searle, JB. & Dobney, KM. (2014). 'The changing pace of insular life: 5000 years of microevolution in the orkney vole (microtus arvalis orcadensis)'. Evolution, vol 68, no. 10, pp. 2804-2820.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1111/evo.12476
    [Online] AURA: evo12476.pdf
  • Evin, A., Cucchi, T., Escarguel, G., Owen, J., Larson, G., Vidarsdottir, US. & Dobney, K. (2014). 'Using traditional biometrical data to distinguish West Palearctic wild boar and domestic pigs in the archaeological record: new methods and standards'. Journal of Archaeological Science, vol 43, pp. 1-8.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2013.11.033
  • Seetah, K., Cucchi, T., Dobney, K. & Barker, G. (2014). 'A geometric morphometric re-evaluation of the use of dental form to explore differences in horse (Equus caballus) populations and its potential zooarchaeological application'. Journal of Archaeological Science, vol 41, pp. 904-910.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2013.10.022
  • Adler, CJ., Dobney, K., Weyrich, LS., Kaidonis, J., Walker, AW., Haak, W., Bradshaw, CJ.A, Townsend, G., Sołtysiak, A., Alt, KW., Parkhill, J. & Cooper, A. (2013). 'Sequencing ancient calcified dental plaque shows changes in oral microbiota with dietary shifts of the Neolithic and Industrial revolutions'. Nature Genetics, vol 45, no. 4, pp. 450-455.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1038/ng.2536
    [Online] AURA: NatGeneticsAdler_EuropePMCversion_ForReview.pdf
  • Martinovka, N., Barnett, R., Cucchi, T., Struchen, R., Pascal, M., Pascal, M., Fischer, MC., Higham, T., Brace, S., Ho, SYW., Quere, J-P, O'Higgins, P., Excoffier, L., Heckel, G., Hoelzel, AR., Dobney, KM. & Searle, JB. (2013). 'Divergent evolutionary processes associated with colonization of offshore islands'. Molecular Ecology, vol 22, no. 20, pp. 5205-5220.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1111/mec.12462
    [Online] AURA: Divergent_evolutionary_processes.pdf
  • Ottoni, C., Girdland Flink, L., Evin, A., Geörg, C., De Cupere, B., Van Neer, W., Bartosiewicz, L., Linderholm, A., Barnett, R., Peters, J., Decorte, R., Waelkens, M., Vanderheyden, N., Ricaut, F-X, Çakırlar, C., Çevic, Ö, Hoelzel, AR., Mashkour, M., Mohaseb Karimlu, AF., Skeikhi Seno, S., Daujat, J., Brock, F., Pinhasi, R., Hongo, H., Perez-Enisco, M., Rasmussen, M., Frantz, L., Megens, H-J, Crooijmans, R., Groenen, M., Arbuckle, B., Benecke, N., Strand-Vidarsdottir, U., Burger, J., Cucchi, T., Dobney, K. & Larson, G. (2013). 'Pig domestication and human-mediated dispersal in western Eurasia revealed through ancient DNA and geometric morphometrics'. Molecular Biology and Evolution, vol 30, no. 4, pp. 824-832.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1093/molbev/mss261
    [Online] AURA: Ottoni_et_al._2013_MBE.pdf
  • Evin, A., Cucchi, T., Cardini, A., Vidarsdottir, US., Larson, G. & Dobney, K. (2013). 'The long and winding road: identifying pig domestication through molar size and shape'. Journal of Archaeological Science, vol 40, no. 1, pp. 735-743.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2012.08.005
  • Upex, B. & Dobney, KM. (2012). 'Dental enamel hypoplasia as indicators of seasonal environmental and physiological impacts in modern sheep populations: a model for interpreting the zooarchaeological record'. Journal of Zoology, vol 287, no. 4, pp. 259-268.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.2012.00912.x
  • Conolly, J., Manning, K., Colledge, S., Dobney, KM. & Shennan, SJ. (2012). 'Species distribution modelling of ancient cattle from early Neolithic sites in SW Asia and Europe'. The Holocene, vol 22, no. 9, pp. 997-1010.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1177/0959683612437871
  • Cucchi, T., Hulme-Beaman, A., Yuan, J. & Dobney, K. (2011). 'Early Neolithic pig domestication at Jiahu, Henan Province, China: clues from molar shape analyses using geometric morphometric approaches'. Journal of Archaeological Science, vol 38, no. 1, pp. 11-22.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2010.07.024
  • Conolly, J., Colledge, S., Dobney, K., Vigne, J-D, Peters, J., Stopp, B., Manning, K. & Shennan, S. (2011). 'Meta-analysis of zooarchaeological data from SW Asia and SE Europe provides insight into the origins and spread of animal husbandry'. Journal of Archaeological Science, vol 38, no. 3, pp. 538-545.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2010.10.008
  • Larson, G., Liu, R., Zhao, X., Yuan, J., Fuller, D., Barton, L., Dobney, K., Fan, Q., Gu, Z., Liu, X-H, Luo, Y., Lv, P., Andersson, L. & Li, N. (2010). 'Patterns of East Asian pig domestication, migration, and turnover revealed by modern and ancient DNA'. PNAS, vol 107, no. 17, pp. 7686-7691.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0912264107
  • Haile, J., Larson, G., Owens, K., Dobney, K. & Shapiro, B. (2010). 'Ancient DNA typing of archaeological pig remains corroborates historical records'. Journal of Archaeological Science, vol 37, no. 1, pp. 174-177.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2009.09.029
  • Cucchi, T., Fujita, M. & Dobney, K. (2009). 'New insights into pig taxonomy, domestication and human dispersal in Island South East Asia: molar shape analysis of Sus remains from Niah Caves, Sarawak'. International journal of osteoarchaeology, vol 19, no. 4, pp. 508-530.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1002/oa.974
  • Richards, MP., West, E., Rolett, B. & Dobney, K. (2009). 'Isotope analysis of human and animal diets from the Hanamiai archaeological site (French Polynesia)'. Archaeology in Oceania, vol 44, no. 1, pp. 29-37.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1002/j.1834-4453.2009.tb00042.x
  • Kierdorf, H., Kierdorf, U., Witzel, C., Intoh, M. & Dobney, K. (2009). 'Developmental defects and postmortem changes in archaeological pig teeth from Fais Island, Micronesia'. Journal of Archaeological Science, vol 36, no. 7, pp. 1637-1646.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2009.03.028
  • Dobney, K., Cucchi, T. & Larson, G. (2008). 'The pigs of Island Southeast Asia and the Pacific: New evidence for taxonomic status and human-mediated dispersal'. Asian Perspectives, vol 47, no. 1, pp. 59-74.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1353/asi.2008.0009
  • Larson, G., Cucchi, T., Fujita, M., Matisoo-Smith, E., Robins, J., Anderson, A., Rolett, B., Spriggs, M., Dolman, G., Kim, T-H, Thuy, NTD., Randi, E., Doherty, M., Due, RA., Bollt, R., Djubiantono, T., Griffin, B., Intoh, M., Keane, E., Kirch, P., Li, K-T, Morwood, M., Pedrina, LM., Piper, PJ., Rabett, RJ., Shooter, P., Van den Bergh, G., West, E., Wickler, S., Yuan, J., Cooper, A. & Dobney, K. (2007). 'Phylogeny and ancient DNA of Sus provides insights into neolithic expansion in island southeast Asia and Oceania'. PNAS, vol 104, no. 12, pp. 4834-4839.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0607753104
  • Larson, G., Albarella, U., Dobney, K., Rowley-Conwy, P., Schibler, J., Tresset, A., Vigne, J-D, Edwards, CJ., Schlumbaum, A., Dinu, A., Balacsescu, A., Dolman, G., Tagliacozzo, A., Manaseryan, N., Miracle, P., Van Wijngaarden-Bakker, L., Masseti, M., Bradley, DG. & Cooper, A. (2007). 'Ancient DNA, pig domestication, and the spread of the Neolithic into Europe'. PNAS, vol 104, no. 39, pp. 15276-15281.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0703411104
  • Witzel, C., Kierdorf, U., Dobney, KM., Ervynck, A., Vanpoucke, S. & Kierdorf, H. (2006). 'Reconstructing impairment of secretory ameloblast function in porcine teeth by analysis of morphological alterations in dental enamel'. Journal of Anatomy, vol 209, no. 1, pp. 93-110.
  • Dobney, KM. & Larson, G. (2006). 'Genetics and animal domestication: new windows on an elusive process'. Journal of Zoology, vol 269, no. 2, pp. 261-271.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.2006.00042.x

Scientific Reviews

  • 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, vol 14, no. 2, pp. 103-136.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1179/146141009X12481709928283

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