Professor Keith Dobney

Professor Keith Dobney
BA (Lancaster), MSc (London), PhD (Bradford)

Emeritus Professor

Professor Keith Dobney
Professor Keith Dobney

Contact Details

The University of Aberdeen 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).


Research Overview

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

Research Funding and 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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  • Isotope analysis of human and animal diets from the Hanamiai archaeological site (French Polynesia)

    Richards, M. P., West, E., Rolett, B., Dobney, K.

    Archaeology in Oceania, vol. 44, no. 1, pp. 29-37

    Contributions to Journals: Articles

  • The pigs of Island Southeast Asia and the Pacific: New evidence for taxonomic status and human-mediated dispersal

    Dobney, K., Cucchi, T., Larson, G.

    Asian Perspectives, vol. 47, no. 1, pp. 59-74

    Contributions to Journals: Articles

  • Ancient DNA, pig domestication, and the spread of the Neolithic into Europe

    Larson, G., Albarella, U., Dobney, K., Rowley-Conwy, P., Schibler, J., Tresset, A., Vigne, J., Edwards, C. J., Schlumbaum, A., Dinu, A., Balacsescu, A., Dolman, G., Tagliacozzo, A., Manaseryan, N., Miracle, P., Van Wijngaarden-Bakker, L., Masseti, M., Bradley, D. G., Cooper, A.

    PNAS, vol. 104, no. 39, pp. 15276-15281

    Contributions to Journals: Articles

  • Phylogeny and ancient DNA of Sus provides insights into neolithic expansion in island southeast Asia and Oceania

    Larson, G., Cucchi, T., Fujita, M., Matisoo-Smith, E., Robins, J., Anderson, A., Rolett, B., Spriggs, M., Dolman, G., Kim, T., Thuy, N. T. D., Randi, E., Doherty, M., Due, R. A., Bollt, R., Djubiantono, T., Griffin, B., Intoh, M., Keane, E., Kirch, P., Li, K., Morwood, M., Pedrina, L. M., Piper, P. J., Rabett, R. J., Shooter, P., Van den Bergh, G., West, E., Wickler, S., Yuan, J., Cooper, A., Dobney, K.

    PNAS, vol. 104, no. 12, pp. 4834-4839

    Contributions to Journals: Articles

  • Reconstructing impairment of secretory ameloblast function in porcine teeth by analysis of morphological alterations in dental enamel

    Witzel, C., Kierdorf, U., Dobney, K., Ervynck, A., Vanpoucke, S., Kierdorf, H.

    Journal of Anatomy, vol. 209, no. 1, pp. 93-110

    Contributions to Journals: Articles

  • Genetics and animal domestication: new windows on an elusive process

    Dobney, K., Larson, G.

    Journal of Zoology, vol. 269, no. 2, pp. 261-271

    Contributions to Journals: Articles

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