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Ben Elliott

Post Doc Research Fellow Lvl I
School of Archaeology
University College Dublin, School of Archaeology

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A Post Doctoral Researcher, who has been lucky enough work on some fantastic projects including SoundTracks at Creswell Crags, POSTGLACIAL at Star Carr and Flixton Island, and Ice Age Island on Jersey. I started out with an interest in the ways people understood and engaged with animals in the Mesolithic, then became interested in the way people use animal materials, and the way people engage with the materials and objects that they make. Then I became interested in sounds animals make within a landscape - and this is where it has taken me. My current IRC-funded post doctoral project is titled 5MATTER. 5MATTERS considers the ways in which people understood material objects during the emergence of agricultural practices in Northwest Europe, c.6-7000 years ago. Axes are considered to be particularly high-status artefacts within these early farming societies, and this project will focus on the ways people engaged with axes at this key moment in global prehistory. In considering alternative ways in which people can relate to material culture, 5MATTER will contribute to debates surrounding our own attitudes towards raw materials and recycling, a key objective under the Horizon 2020 framework. This will be achieved through the close examination of the ways in which axes were made, used and deposited in both hunter-gatherer and agricultural contexts. However, 5MATTER aims to go further than this, in a novel attempt to overcome a key problem for the study of material culture within archaeology. Our ability to experimentally replicate archaeological artefacts to test their physical properties has been well established by UCD's Centre for Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture. Yet we are unable to marry this understanding of mechanical potential to more nuanced anthropological accounts of the ways in which making connects people to material objects, and shapes their perception of the material world. In order to address this, 5MATTER will deliver an extensive programme of experimental archaeology to replicate different axe forms, and document the developing relationship between artefact and maker through open interviews. These axes will then be mechanically tested, to explore the relationship between physical properties and social perception. This is the first time these approaches have been combined in the study of material culture, provides the potential to understand the different ways in which contemporary communities regarded key forms of their material culture, and a new methodology for the study of artefacts in other archaeological contexts.


  • Post Doctoral Research Assistant
    University of York, Archaeology, United Kingdom1 Jun 2015 - 31 May 2017
  • Teaching Fellow
    University of Leicester, Archaeology and Ancient History, United Kingdom1 Sep 2014 - 31 May 2015
  • POSTGLACIAL project Archive Manager
    University of York, United Kingdom1 Oct 2012 - 1 Jun 2015


  • PhD
    University of York, United Kingdom1 Oct 2009 - 30 Sep 2012
  • MA Mesolithic Studies
    University of York, United Kingdom1 Oct 2008 - 30 Jun 2009
  • BA (Hons.) Archaeology
    University of York, United Kingdom1 Oct 2005 - 31 Jul 2008