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Professor Volker Heyd

Prehistoric Archaeology / Scientific Archaeology

My research has advanced in two main directions in the last decade. Whilst I still see myself as a prehistoric archaeologist undertaking my own long-term fieldwork projects in France, Turkey and Hungary, and focusing current prehistoric top themes such as mobility, identity, ethnicity, ideology etc., I regularly incorporate scientific methods into my research. Here the study of human and animal mobility, and the application of 87Sr/86Sr and δ18O isotopes, has particularly kept my attention since first publishing on the topic in 2003. I have continued designing and successfully running my own isotope projects, well reflected in grant income, often in cooperation with colleagues in Bristol, Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Finland and Russia. Beside the isotopes, I am always keen to promote other multi/cross-discipline approaches, for example making use of evidence from chemistry, physical anthropology, biology, genetics etc., for a better understanding of our own prehistoric records and material culture. A significant part of my research has centred on the fourth and third millennium BC, periods for which I am mostly credited. More recently, my interests have broadened to include publications and seminars, now encompassing the seventh millennium BC Neolithisation of Europe to the first millennium BC Iron Age and first millennium AD Vikings, and geographically from Central Europe to the wider Continent.


I am currently working in four research areas/projects:

1) 'The Milking Revolution in Temperate Neolithic Europe (NeoMilk)'. Funded by an ERC Advanced Grant, European Union, to R. Evershed. See, for further information:

2) 'The Yamnaya Impact': Archaeology and scientific research of/into the Yamnaya populations of Southeastern Europe and their impact on contemporary local and neighboring 3rd millennium BC societies as well as their role in the emergence of the Corded Ware and Bell Beaker complexes in Europe.

3) 'The Prehistoric Peopling of Northeastern Europe': Inter-/crossdisciplinary studies on the archaeology, anthropology, linguistics, and bio- and environmental sciences of early Uralic speakers and their first horizon of interactions with Indo-European speakers. This wider project is in cooperation with colleagues from Helsinki and Turku Universities in Finland, as well as from Russia, Estonia and Poland. 

4) 'Czech Republic': I am closely cooperating with the Institute of Archaeology, Czech Academy of Sciences, in Prague for two research projects funded by the Czech Grant Agency in which we measure various isotopes from human remains in Bristol to understand past mobility and diet. 

The Humboldt-Kolleg -conference 'Reinecke’s Heritage' (with P. Pavúk, M. Ernée and J. Peska) held in June 2017 at Chateau Křtiny/Moravia is also part of this cooperation. See, for further information:


Funding has now ended for the '' project: Isotope analysis of well dated cattle and red deer bones from Swiss Neolithic lakeshore settlements as indicator for herd management, dairying, environment and human impact (with J. Schibler, Basel University, and some more colleagues). We are currently preparing to publish further results.

Research keywords

  • 4th and 3rd millennium BC Europe
  • ideology
  • Bell Beaker phenomenon
  • aDNA
  • Corded Ware
  • Copper Age societies
  • Isotopes
  • Yamnaya
  • steppes
  • ethnicity
  • transhumance
  • Hallstatt princely hillforts
  • Identity
  • world-systems
  • Baden
  • Globular Amphora
  • Indo-European languages
  • pastoralism
  • Neolithisation