Geography / Geology
School of Environmental Sciences

Malcolm Lillie

Malcolm Lillie

Professor in Prehistoric Archaeology and Wetland Science

School of Environmental Sciences

  • Profile
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Publications
  • Remember Me



I originally joined Hull University in 1994 as a Research Fellow on the English Heritage funded Humber Wetlands Project. I obtained a Lecturer in Archaeology post in September 2000 and my Readership in August of 2007. I was made a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in September 2012. My research interests have two main themes; palaeopathology at the transition to agriculture and in situ preservation in wetlands.



I am currently the course director for the BSc/BA Geography & Archaeology program. I teach on a range of modules including:

  • 16160 : World Archaeology
  • 16161 : British Archaeology (leader)
  • photo from france field trip16162 : Archaeology - History, Theory and Method (leader)
  • 16266 : Death and Burial (leader)
  • 16304 : Advanced Field Skills (Orkney)
  • 16366 : Wetland Archaeology (leader)
  • 16367 : Hunter-gatherer to Farmer (leader)

I regularly supervise undergraduate dissertations in archaeology and geography related topics.



My research interests are in the following areas:

  • Mesolithic-Neolithic transitions
  • The interpretation of diet from dental pathology and stable isotope analyses
  • Wetland Archaeology
  • Holocene landscape development and human-landscape interactions

Dr Malcolm Lillie in IcelandResearch in Eastern Europe includes the detailed analysis of skeletal remains from the Epipalaeolithic to Copper Age populations from the Dnieper Rapids region of Ukraine. This research has resulted in the development of a new absolute chronology for the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in this region alongside a study of palaeopathology across the transition. I am currently undertaking a new dating program and detailed study of stable isotope evidence for diet across the Mesolithic to Eneolithic periods in Ukraine. In addition, along with colleagues in Ireland, Germany, Bulgaria and Anatolia, I am working on the dating and isotope analysis of materials from sites such as the Areni cave, Yabolkovo and Aktopatrilk (Neolithic-Chalcolithic periods).

My background in environmental archaeology, as developed at Sheffield University, focuses on Holocene landscape reconstruction and environmental change in wetlands. Prior to entering higher education I worked in commercial archaeology on the Severn Estuary (Welsh side) on a range of wetland archaeological sites including Goldcliffe and the Caldicot Castle Lake excavations. This work maintained a focus on the prehistoric periods, which continued into my employment with the English Heritage Humber Wetlands Survey (1994-2000). Since setting up WAERC in 2000 we have undertaken a range of projects including: excavations at Sutton Common (along with colleagues from Exeter University), the South West Scottish Crannogs Project (with AOC archaeology) and the English Heritage/MIRO (Aggregates Levy funded) Newington Project.

Selected current and recent projects

  • Dating and diet in the earlier Neolithic: with colleagues in Kiev, Cambridge, Cork and Oxford a series of dating projects are being undertaken to further assess initial indications of a freshwater reservoir effect on earlier Neolithic human populations who consumed diets with inputs of freshwater resources. To date, the evidence indicates that populations of the middle and lower Dnieper Region in Ukraine have significant reservoir offsets in the radiocarbon dating undertaken on these individuals, when compared to the terrestrial fauna from the region (Lillie et al. 2009). We are assessing these influences at other locations in Europe and obtaining stable isotope ratios to further assess/reinforce the observations obtained to date.
  • Subsistence in transitional hunter-gatherer to farmer contexts: A number of small projects aimed at assessing the nature of subsistence strategies across the shift from the exploitation of wild to domesticated resources from the Baltic to the Black Sea regions are being undertaken with colleagues from western, central and eastern Europe.
  • The Venus of Dolní VěstoniceBiological & Cultural Identity of First Farmers: Multiple Bio-Archaeological Analysis of a Central European Cemetery (Vedrovice, Znojmo District, Moravia): working with colleagues in Sheffield, analysing human skeletal remains at an early Neolithic cemetery in the Czech Republic and considering issues relating to the emergence of the LBK culture and the emergence of the 'Neolithic' in Europe. (Link: FARMING : VEDROVICE)
  • Understanding Waterlogged Burial Environments: The Impacts of Aggregates Extraction and De-Watering on the Buried Archaeological resource [Phase 2] (English Heritage Funded). This phase of the project continues the multi-disciplinary studies of watertable dynamics and the analysis of the chemistry of the burial environment at Newington, and develops the research agenda further by integrating high resolution studies of the microbiology of the floodplain sediments in order to understand the potential for in situ preservation at this site.
  • Understanding water table dynamics and their influence on the buried archaeological resource in relation to aggregates extraction (English Heritage and MIRO funded Aggregates Levy Project): integrating multi-disciplinary studies of watertable dynamics, the chemistry of the burial environment and palaeoecological studies in order to assess the impacts of extraction on in situ burial environments. Data modelling in GIS and hydrogeological package (MODFLOW).
  • Characterising waterlogged burial environments for in situ preservation of organic archaeological remains: this research comprised multi-disciplinary studies of waterlogged burial environments in order to characterise their biological and physico-chemical preservation status. Stratigraphic (soil profile) molecular biological studies have been employed in this study, which has enhanced our understanding of the importance of microbial communities in degradation processes (PhD research undertaken by Isabel Douterelo Soler)

Current Postgraduates

I am happy to supervise students on the Masters and PhD by Research in Archaeology programs on topics relating to both Prehistoric Archaeology and Wetland Archaeology. I am currently co-supervising a PhD with Peter Halkon in the Department of History. The PhD research topic is “In search of the spear people: the archaeology of Iron Age weapons and warfare in East Yorkshire in their European Context” and it is being undertaken by Ms Yvonne Inall.



Click for access to a full list of Dr Lillie's publications.

Biological Anthropology

  • Budd, C., Lillie, M.C., Alpaslan Roodenberg, S., Karul, N. and R. Pinhasi. 2013. Stable Isotope Analysis of Neolithic and Chalcolithic populations from Aktopraklık, northern Anatolia. Journal of Archaeological Science 40:860-67.
  • Lillie, M., Budd, C., Alpaslan-Roodenberg, S., Karul, N. and R Pinhasi. 2012. Musings on Early Farming communities in Northwest Anatolia; and other flights of fancy. Interdisciplinaria Archaeologica (IANSA) 3(1):11-22.
  • Lillie, M.C., Potekhina, I.D., Budd, C.E. and A. Nikitin. 2012. Prehistoric populations of Ukraine: Migration at the later Mesolithic to Neolithic transition, in Kaiser, E., Burger, J. and W. Schier (eds.) Population Dynamics in Prehistory and Early History. New Approaches Using Stable Isotopes and Genetics. Berlin: de Gruyter. pp. 77-92.
  • Zvelebil, M., Lillie, M.C., Montgomery, J., Lukes, A., Pettitt, P. and M.P. Richards. 2012. The emergence of the LBK: Migration, Memory and Meaning at the transition to agriculture. in Kaiser, E., Burger, J. and W. Schier (eds.) Population Dynamics in Prehistory and Early History. New Approaches Using Stable Isotopes and Genetics. Berlin: de Gruyter. pp. 133-148.
  • Lillie, M.C. Budd, C.E., & I.D. Potekhina, 2011. Stable isotope analysis of prehistoric populations from the cemeteries of the Middle and Lower Dnieper Basin, Ukraine. Journal of Archaeological Science 38(1):57-68
  • Lillie, M.C. and C. Budd. 2011. The Mesolithic-Neolithic Transition in Eastern Europe: Integrating Stable Isotope Studies of Diet with Palaeopathology to Identify Subsistence Strategies and Economy, in Pinhasi, R. and J.T. Stock (eds.) Human Bioarchaeology of the Transition to Agriculture. Chichester: John Wiley & sons Ltd.  pp. 43-62.
  • Lillie, M.C., Budd, C.E., Potekhina, I.D. and R.E.M. Hedges. 2009. The Radiocarbon Reservoir Effect: New Evidence from the Cemeteries of the Middle and Lower Dnieper Basin, Ukraine. Journal of Archaeological Science 36:256-64.

Wetland Archaeology

  • Lillie, M.C., Soler, I. and R, Smith. 2012. Lowland Floodplain Responses to Extreme Flood Events: Long-Term Studies and Short-Term Microbial Community Response to Water Environment Impacts. Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites 14(1-2):125-48.
  • Douterelo Soler, I., Goulder, R. and M.C. Lillie. 2010. Soil microbial community response to land-management and depth, related to the degradation of organic matter in English wetlands: Implications for the in situ preservation of archaeological remains. Applied Soil Ecology 44:219-227.
  • Douterelo Soler, I., Goulder, R. and M.C. Lillie. 2009. Response of the microbial community to water table variation and nutrient addition and its implication for in situ preservation of organic archaeological remains in wetlands soils. International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation 63:795-805.
  • Lillie, M.C., Smith, R., Reed, J. & R. Inglis. 2008. 'South-West Scottish Crannogs: using in situ studies to assess preservation in wetland contexts'. Journal of Archaeological science 35: 1886-1900.
  • Smith, R. & M.C. Lillie. 2007. Using a lysimeter study to assess the parameters responsible for oak wood decay from waterlogged burial environments and their implication for the in situ preservation of archaeological remains. International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation 60: 40-9.
  • Lillie, M.C. and R. Smith. 2007. The in situ preservation of archaeological remains: using lysimeters to assess the impacts of saturation and seasonality Journal of Archaeological Science 34: 1494-1504.


  • Benes, J. and M.C. Lillie. 2012. (editorial) – Marek Zvelebil and the Identity of Archaeology. Interdisciplinaria Archaeologica (IANSA) 3(1):3-7.
  • Lillie, M.C. 2008. The Tripilian Culture in Context. in Ciuk, K. (ed.) Mysteries of Ancient Ukraine: the remarkable Tripilian Culture 5400-2700 BC. Canada: Royal Ontario Museum.

In addition to the above I have a number of papers published on the work of the Humber Wetlands Survey; including sedimentology, palaeoenvironmental reconstruction and excavation, in the Wetland Heritage series and papers in press and under review in books, journals and conference volumes with both bio-anthropological and wetlands themes.

Remember Me

Remember Me logo


I am currently the Project Manager and Co-I on the AHRC funded project RememberMe: The changing face of memorialisation.

This project seeks to understand the ways in which contemporary approaches to death and memorialisation are changing by exploring the nature of memorial practices and processes.

The research is made up of nine strands, including historical and contemproary studies, ethnography, qualitative interviewsd, free-writing texts and photographic essays aimed at exploring the changing face of memorialsisation over time.

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