Department of Archaeology

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Julian Henderson

Professor, Faculty of Arts



1984-5 Postdoctoral Fellow, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., USA

1985-91 Postdoctoral Fellow, Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of Oxford

1988-91 Junior Research Fellow, St Cross College, University of Oxford

1991-1995 Lecturer in the Department of Prehistory and Archaeology, University of Sheffield

1995-97 Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology, Nottingham University

1995-2005 National editor of the Journal of Archaeological Science

1997 Visiting Scholar, St. John's College, Oxford University

1997-99 Reader in Archaeological Sciences, University of Nottingham

1999- Full Professor, Chair of Archaeological Sciences, University of Nottingham

1997-2000 Acting Head of the Archaeology Department, Nottingham University

2001-2002 Head of the Archaeology Department, Nottingham University

2003 Edward Clarence Dyason visiting Fellow, University of Melbourne

2004-06 British Academy Research Reader

2005 McGeorge Fellow and Visiting international scholar, University of Melbourne

2008-2009 Head of the School of Humanites, Nottingham University

2008-2013 Honorary visiting Professorial Fellow, University of Melbourne

2009-2010 Head of the Archaeology Department, Nottingham University

2010-2012 Director of the Institute of Middles Eastern Studies, Nottingham University

2012- Archaeometry Editor for Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry

2015-2015 Director of internationalisation, School of Humanities, Nottingham University

2016-2017 Head of the Archaeology Department, Nottingham University

2016- Visiting Professor at Northwest University, Xi'an, China

2017- Li Dak Sum Chair Professor in Silk Road Studies, University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China (an extra 15%).

I have been on the AHRC and NERC peer review colleges and on the BGS (NERC) Isotope steering group

Expertise Summary

Silk Road, Archaeological Science; Glass Production; Iron Age Europe; Medieval archaeology of the Near East and Western Europe

Teaching Summary

My office hours in the autumn semester 2017 are: Mondays 2-3 and Thursdays 4-5.

(I am in Ningbo, China for the whole of November)

I teach and supervise Undergraduate, Masters and PhD students.

The undergraduate modules I teach and contribute to are:

The living and the Dead (1st year), Exploring archaeological science (2nd year) and Through a glass darkly (3rd year) . I supervise dissertations based on content of these modules.

At Masters level I teach and supervise dissertations in topics associates with the Silk Road and archaeoloigal science (materials).

I welcome PhD applications that focus on research in aspects of my Silk Road project, aspects of early Islamic archaeology, the application of innovative scientific techniques to ancient glass and glazed ceramics in the investigation of trade, technology and provenance in a wide range of cultural contexts including the earliest glass in western Asia and south-west Asia,.

Current PhD Students (primary supervisor):

  1. Elsaviet Fergadiotou (70%)
  2. Camilla Bertini (70%).

I am also on the committees for Research students in UCLA/University of the Peloponnese and the University of Athens.

Research Summary

Research Summary

I direct the international Silk Road project and welcome enquiries from potential research students that map onto the links between East and West, especially in the Medieval period.

The key Middle Eastern site of Raqqa on the river Euphrates in Syria has provided an excellent focus for wide-ranging interdisciplinary collaborative research:

Landscape, environment and ancient industry in Islamic al-Raqqa (Syria). The project has provided a platform for another area of my research: The Provenance of Glass. The combination of isotopic (Nd, Sr, Pb, O) and chemical analysis, especially of plant ash glasses, and of the raw materials used to make them (plant ash and silica- quartz pebbles and sand), is leading to novel insights into ancient glass technologies (the sources of raw materials) and providing a geological provenance for plant ash glasses for the first time. The first detailed scientific analysis of the plants suitable for glass production in the Middle East has been published and that for silica sources is in preparation. Moreover, the research has been extended to include the provenance of early European glass (funded by the British Academy and NERC).

Further current research projects include:

I regularly give invited lectures at other universities. These have recently included Peking University (Beijing), Sun Yet Sen University (Guangzhou), Northwest Univesity (X'an), Chinese Academy of Sciences (Shanghai), Bonn University, Ca' Foscari University (Venice), Texas A and M University (USA), University of Texas at Dallas.

Past Research

My research has been broadly concerned with the archaeological and scientific characteristics of ancient materials, especially vitreous materials and ceramics. Moreover, my research focuses on ancient technology in ancient social, economic and political contexts. Projects have included the study of Sudanese faience, Chinese ceramics and enamels, Islamic pottery, prehistoric European and Middle Eastern glasses, Islamic (enamelled) glasses, and Roman, early Islamic, medieval and post-medieval glasses in the west. The AHRC, British Academy and Max van Berchem Foundation funded Raqqa (Syria) ancient industry project, which I directed, involves archaeological excavations of a 2km long early Islamic industrial complex of 9th-12th century date. We revealed the most comprehensive evidence for primary glass production for any inland site in the Middle East. Furthermore we discovered several pottery workshops. The interpretation was set in an environmental context using GIS and satellite imagery, environmental coring, the harvesting of halophytic plants suitable for glass production and their scientific analysis, the collection of silica sources and an investigation of ancient pollution. Comprehensive scientific analysis of the industrial evidence has been carried out and this continues. Investigations of relationships between pottery and glass technologies, including fuel use, furnace/ kiln design and sharing of other raw material sources formed an important part of the research.

Department of Archaeology

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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