Prof Keith Dobney BA; MSc; PhD

Chair of Human Palaeoecology Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology

Research

Research highlights

My principal research areas include the origins and spread of agriculture, the domestication of animals, human and animal dispersal, diet and health, palaeopathology and palaeoeconomics. I also have growing interests in aspects of wartime heritage and conflict.

My research group have made new contributions to international and interdisciplinary research agendas - specifically in the contentious debates concerning Austronesian origins and human colonisation of the Pacific; novel evidence for Neolithic dispersal from the near East into Europe (results of which have very recently been confirmed by human genetic data) and the origins and processes of animal domestication and commensalism (specifically through research into pigs, dogs, rodents and birds of prey). These draw heavily on both traditional and novel approaches, deploying a successful research model that combines genetic and novel morphometric approaches with direct dating.

Also undertook the largest and most comprehensive study of a domestic animal (the pig); produced the first comparative analysis of the genetic and archaeological records for dog domestication; revealed the continental origin and island evolution of the Orkney Vole.

Working with genetics colleagues in Adelaide, we undertook the first ancient DNA research on the Human Palaeomicrobiome - based on earlier work I undertook during the 1980s (as a research technician at the Institute of Archaeology, London with Professor Don Brothwell). This field is fast becoming one of the most exciting prospects for studying the evolution of diet and disease.

Other recent research highlights include using shape analyses of skeletal remains to explore the identity of the earliest settlers of Iceland and the evolutionary impact of bipedalism on back pain.

Research Grants

Deciphering dog domestication through a combined ancient DNA and geometric morphometric approach

NATURAL ENVIRONMENT RESEARCH COUNCIL (NERC)

March 2016 - May 2017

Animals, Lifeways and Lifeworlds in Yup'ik Archaeology (ALLY): Subsistence, Technologies, and Communities of Change

ARTS AND HUMANITIES RESEARCH COUNCIL (AHRC)

March 2016 - November 2018

One Health Research Network for the Horn of Africa (HORN)

DEPARTMENT FOR BUSINESS, ENERGY AND INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY (BEIS) (UK)

October 2017 - December 2021

The Consequences of Gene Flow between Wild and Domestic Populations during Livestock Evolution

NATURAL ENVIRONMENT RESEARCH COUNCIL (NERC)

October 2018 - September 2021

From wolf to dog: Reconstructing their role in early human societies

LEVERHULME TRUST (UK)

September 2017 - August 2020

IPACE - Iceland: Physical Anthropology of Colonization and Evolution

EUROPEAN COMMISSION

August 2017 - July 2019