Dr Andrea Dolfini
Lecturer in Later Prehistory

  • Email: andrea.dolfini@ncl.ac.uk
  • Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 3402
  • Address: School of History, Classics and Archaeology
    Armstrong Building
    Newcastle upon Tyne
    NE1 7RU - UK

Roles and Responsibilities

Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Artefact Studies (CIAS)
Coordinator of the Wolfson Archaeology Laboratory
Coordinator of the School's Exchange Programmes
Coordinator of the Archaeology Research Seminars
Coordinator of the Material Culture Research Strand


PhD in Archaeology, St. John's College, University of Cambridge (UK)
Post-Graduate Diploma in European Prehistory, University of Milan (Italy)
First Degree in Classics and Archaeology, University of Milan (Italy)

Previous Positions

2004-05      Lecturer in European Prehistory, Golden Age University, Milan (Italy)

Awards and Esteem Indicators

2013-    Council Member, The Historical Metallurgy Society 

2013     Nominated (with Graeme Barker, Cambridge). Lloyd Cotsen Prize, UCLA

2008     Rome Fellowship, The British School at Rome (offered) 

2003     Early career publication award, The Italian Institute for Prehistory and Protohistory (IIPP)

Research Interests

My research explores the social dynamics of material culture in prehistoric Europe and the Mediterranean. In particular, my work concentrates on two main subjects: the Later Prehistory of Italy and the Central Mediterranean region (with particular reference to ancient technology, burial practices, household archaeology and the landscape) and prehistoric copper-alloy metallurgy. I have published extensively on both subjects.

Other Expertise

Use-wear analysis of copper-alloy metalwork by optical microscopy
Field survey and excavation methods

Current Work

My current work concentrates on the origins of metallurgy in the prehistoric Central Mediterranean, with special regard to its chronology, technology and social dynamics. My most significant achievements included back-dating the emergence of metal-working to the Late Neolithic (cf. Dolfini in Antiquity 84, 2010 and Dolfini in Accordia Research Papers 13, in press), reconsidering the function of Chalcolithic metalwork by means of use-wear analysis (Dolfini in Journal of Archaeological Science 38, 2011), and proposing a new model to explain the emergence and early spread of metallurgy (Dolfini in European Journal of Archaeology 16.1, 2013). A selection of my research papers can be downloaded from my Academia.edu webpage.

I am now coordinating two research project: the first investigates Bronze Age combat techniques by examining the wear marks found on archaeological swords, spears and axes from museum collections, and by replicating these marks in controlled field tests with replicas of the same weapons. Aim of the project is to understand how Late Bronze Age weapons were used, in what combat situations, and with what strikes and body motions. The second is an archaeological investigation of the Copper Age and Early Bronze Age domestic site at Case Bastione, Sicily (with E. Giannitrapani and F. Ianni'). Aim of the project is to reassess the evidence for possible in situ copper smelting and working through excavation, geophisics and finds analysis.

I am also a specialist advisor on prehistoric artefacts for The Cutting Edge, an innovative online archive of archaeological and ethnographic objects with sharp edges held in the Great North Museum : Hancock and Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums (TWAM). The archive supports teaching and research into ancient and historic tools and weapons, and allows assessment of the objects for use-wear analysis from remote stations. 

Future Research

I am working towards a large grant application to support research into the life-histories of early metal artefacts from three sample regions in Europe. I am also going to apply for a small grant to complete my current Bronze Age combat project, and am working (with J. Robb, Cambridge) towards an AHRC research networking application to organise a series of conferences on the prehistoric central Mediterranean.  

Postgraduate Supervision

I am keen to supervise doctoral students working on any of my research areas including prehistoric copper-alloy metallurgy, death and burial in Neolithic and Bronze Age Italy, the archaeology of prehistoric houses, and the central Mediterranean landscape. Informal enquires are encouraged. 


Undergraduate Teaching

ARA1026 - Introduction to Archaeological Science
ARA2011 - Later European Prehistory (module leader: J. Harding)
ARA2101 - Artefacts (module leader: J. Gerrard)
ARA3100 - Later Mediterranean Prehistory

Postgraduate Teaching

ARA8186 - Ancient Technologies: Understanding metalwork (with A. Charles)
ARA8182 - Prehistoric Architecture: Houses, monuments and beyond (module leader: J. Harding)
ARA8184 - Bodies in Prehistoric Europe (module leader: C. Fowler)