Department of Archaeology

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Holly Miller

Assistant Professor in Zooarchaeology_*d, Faculty of Arts



I studied BA Archaeology at the University of Bristol. I decided that I needed find my own path alongside my studies in my second year, otherwise I was going to get lost in the herd, so I organized my own fieldwork placement in the Near East and have not looked back.

I pursued Near Eastern Archaeology for Masters and PhD at the University of Liverpool, working with material culture and isotope analysis to answer zooarchaeological questions, an interdisciplinary approach that has become a feature of my research. After graduation I took on several post-doctoral research projects at the Universities of Cambridge, Exeter and Nottingham. I have been at the University of Nottingham since 2012.

Expertise Summary

My research has two primary strands (1) human-animal-landscape relationships, and what they can reveal about past societies and (2) object biographies, and the expression of human culture and identity in prehistory. These two strands are increasingly linked by shared concerns of health and wellbeing, and the ideology that human, (non-human)animal and environmental experiences must be considered together to be meaningful. Both have resonance for contemporary issues.

I work with animal remains, stone tools and beads to understand more about the past. I am a zooarchaeologist with expertise in isotope geochemistry and lithic analysis. In particular, my work is focussed on the Epi-Palaeolithic - Iron Age of the Near East.

Teaching Summary

In the 2017/18 session I will be teaching the year-long V62RES module, Archaeological Research: Theory and Practice, our core theory and dissertation preparation course.

In addition to this, I am happy to talk about research projects in zooarchaeology, environmental archaeology, stable isotope bioarchaeology, material culture, Near Eastern archaeology, archaeological theory and later prehistory.

Research Summary

The human-(non-human)animal-landscape relationships that are central to my research are reflections of culture and identity in the past, together they offer a greater understanding of the structure,… read more

Current Research

The human-(non-human)animal-landscape relationships that are central to my research are reflections of culture and identity in the past, together they offer a greater understanding of the structure, economy and ideology of society. I use zooarchaeology and isotope (C, N, S, O, Sr) analysis to investigate human-instigated management, movement and ecology of animals. Alongside building and interpreting zooarchaeology and isotope data to examine these themes, I integrate evidence from anthropology, ecology, archaeobotany, genetics, visual and material culture, and historical texts in my research. My long history of interdisciplinary research shows that combining these data sets makes them greater than the sum of their parts.

I have contributed to several key archaeological debates, notably identifying the incipient development of nomadic pastoralism in the Southern Levant, the hidden archaeology of zootherapy and, the interpretative potential of humoral theory in archaeology. My work on fallow deer, domestic caprines, and chickens has resulted in important considerations of the place of animals in a range of societies, and has particularly reflected on the role of environmental, ecological and economic factors. This tallies with my work on adornments, including those on animals, which challenges current methodologies and a lack of theory in analysing bead/amulet manufacture and use, particularly in Prehistoric - Medieval societies, and assessed through integrated evidence to produce object biographies.

Past Research

My PhD research, undertaken at the University of Liverpool, focused on an assessments of prehistoric human-animal-landscape relationships (dietary and environmental change, developing human-animal relationships, early animal management practices, movement patterns and associated societal change) to investigate the origins of nomadic pastoralism in the steppe and desert of the Southern Levant.

Future Research

My future research plans include developing interdisciplinary research in magic, medicine and belief, specifically: (1) through object biographies (Near Eastern Prehistoric personal adornment) and; (2) establishing a new field of archaeological scholarship - medicine as culture in prehistory.

Department of Archaeology

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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