Professor Alex Bayliss

Professor of Archaeological Science (part-time)

PhD - University College London
BA (Hons) - University College London

Biological & Environmental Sciences
Faculty of Natural Sciences
University of Stirling
Stirling
Scotland, FK9 4LA

tel: +44-7584 522333
email: Alex Bayliss
web: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Alex_Bayliss/

 

Research

My research focuses on the construction of precise chronologies for archaeological sites, environmental records, and aspects of material culture. I combine disparate strands of evidence --- stratigraphy, typology, seriation, lithology, radiocarbon dates, coin dates, and many others – in formal, Bayesian statistical models.

Chronology is fundamental to our understanding of the past. In the words of Claude Lévi-Strauss (1966, 258) in The Savage Mind, ‘there is no history without dates’. Fundamentally, the aim of my research is to rescue archaeology from the mire of fuzzy chronology to which visual inspection of calibrated radiocarbon dates consigns us, and to reclaim ‘time of the middling sort’ for our, particularly prehistoric, narratives.

Archaeology is good at the long-term, indeed it has carved a niche within the academy as the discipline with a long reach back into time. Archaeology is also good at the short-term, at the few hours one afternoon when a person in the past sat by a fire and knapped out a flint tool. What Bayesian statistics give us is the human time in the middle – generations, lifetimes, ‘that time that granny told me about when she was a girl’ – and the ability to create narratives of people in the past.

Current Research Projects

I am currently actively involved in a number of major research projects:

This is a large-scale and long-term research project to provide a generational-scale chronology for the internationally important tell at Çatalhöyük, Turkey, which has been at the heart of discussions of Neolithic lifeways for more than 50 years. The 19m of Neolithic deposits are seminal for our understanding of key developments in Neolithic life from the domestication of cattle and the adoption of a settled way of living, to the invention of pottery and metallurgy, and the appearance of long-distance trade. The new, precise chronology will allow social, economic and cultural change to be interpreted at a scale of human lifetimes and generations.

Building 65, a typical Neolithic house from Çatalhöyük East

Building 65, a typical Neolithic house from Çatalhöyük East

This project is being undertaken in several components. The principal sequence through the the tell (in the South Area) is being undertaken in collaboration with Professor Ian Hodder (Stanford University, USA) and is funded by a £250,000 grant from the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council and the US National Science Foundation. A shorter, late Neolithic sequence, is being undertaken in collaboration with Professor Arkadiusz Marciniak (Poznań University, Poland), with funding from the Polish Academy of Sciences. A new analysis of the buildings and spaces revealed by the 1960s excavations is being undertaken, using a series of unpublished, large-scale plans from the 1960s excavations which were kindly lent to the project by the excavator, Professor James Mellaart, shortly before his death. This research is funded by a grant from the Albert Reckitt Archaeological Fund (administered by the British Academy). Work is also beginning on a group of contemporary buildings from the middle of the Neolithic sequence in the North Area, with funding from the John Templeton Foundation.

Our scientific collaborators in this challenging application of radiocarbon dating are Dr David Chivall, Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, Professors R E Taylor and John Southon (The Keck Carbon Cycle AMS laboratory, University of California, Irvine), and Professor Tomasz Goslar (Poznań Radiocarbon Laboratory).

Alex and Arek determining the sampling strategy for the TP Area (Turkey 2008)

The Times of Their Lives

With Professor Alasdair Whittle (Cardiff University), I am currently co-investigator on The Times of their Lives: Towards precise narratives of change in the European Neolithic through formal chronological modelling. This project, funded by the European Research Council to a total of €2.54M, offers ground-breaking progress towards the construction of much more precise chronologies for the Neolithic period in Europe, particularly focused on phases after initial transformations. It offers a series of case studies across much of the continent, working principally through the application of formal chronological modelling in a Bayesian statistical framework, combined with critical, problem-oriented archaeological analysis. We hope to provide much more precise timings of key features and trends in the European Neolithic sequence than are currently available, and to construct much more precise estimates of the duration of events and phenomena. From these there is the possibility to open up new insights into the tempo of change through the detailed study of selected sites and situations across the span of the European Neolithic, from the sixth to the early third millennia cal BC.

A principal goal of this project is to extend the types of archaeological information that are included in Bayesian chronological models, including not just site-based stratigraphy (at Château Percin and Bury, France, Heilbronn-Klingenberg "Schlossberg", Germany, Valencina de la Concepción, Spain, the Xagħra Circle, Malta, and Uivar, Romania), but also studies based on site-based seriation (at Vinča Belo Brdo, Serbia), regional ceramic seriation (in Alsace and the Central Europe), or typological series (in Orkney). We are also modelling the landscape history of England using a large corpus of existing radiocarbon dates from environmental sequences.

 ‌Selecting samples from the Neolithic tell at Vinča-Belo Brdo, Serbia (with Miroslav Marić (The Institute for Balkan Studies) and Nenad Tasić (Belgrade University))(Belgrade 2012)

Selecting samples from the Neolithic tell at Vinča-Belo Brdo, Serbia (with Miroslav Marić (The Institute for Balkan Studies) and Nenad Tasić (Belgrade University))(Belgrade 2012)

International Radiocarbon Calibration

I have a long-standing interest in radiocarbon calibration, particularly in refining the accuracy of calibration during the period covered by the tree-ring calibration curve (e.g. McCormac et al. 2008), and in protocols for the accurate calibration of samples which derive their carbon from a variety of reservoirs. This has led to my active involvement in the international initiative to produce consensus calibration data for archaeologists. I am currently working on assessing the accuracy of radiocarbon wiggle-matching for dating tree-ring cores from medieval standing buildings.

The most recent suite of calibrations curves, adopted by international agreement at the 21st International Radiocarbon conference in Paris in 2012 are now available.

Recent Publications

Monographs

Bayliss, A, Hines, J, Høilund Nielsen, K, McCormac, F G, and Scull, C, 2013 Anglo-Saxon Graves and Grave Goods of the Sixth and Seventh Centuries AD: A Chronological Framework, Society of Medieval Archaeology Monograph, London (Maney)

Bayliss, A, Bronk Ramsey, C, Cook, G, McCormac, F G, Otlet, R, and Walker, J, 2013 Radiocarbon Dates: from samples funded by English Heritage under between 1988 and 1993, Swindon (English Heritage)

Bayliss, A, Hedges, R, Otlet, R, Switsur, R, and Walker, J, 2012 Radiocarbon Dates: from samples funded by English Heritage between 1981 and 1988, Swindon (English Heritage)

Whittle, A, Healy, F, and Bayliss, A, 2011 Gathering time: dating the early Neolithic enclosures of southern Britain and Ireland, Oxford (OxBow)

Bayliss, A, Cook, G, Bronk Ramsey, C, van der Plicht, J, and McCormac, G, 2008 Radiocarbon Dates: from samples funded by English Heritage under the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund 2004–7, Swindon (English Heritage)

Bayliss, A, Bronk Ramsey, C, Cook, G and van der Plicht, J, 2007 Radiocarbon Dates from samples funded by English Heritage under the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund 2002-4, Swindon (English Heritage)

Peer-reviewed publications in journals and books

Tasić, N, Marić, M, Penezić, K, Filipović, D, Borojević, K, Russell, N, Reimer, P, Barclay, A, Bayliss, A, Borić, D, Gaydarska, B, and Whittle, A, 2015 The end of the affair: formal chronological modelling for the top of the Neolithic tell of Vinča-Belo Brdo, Antiquity, 89, 1064–82

Bayliss, A, 2015 Quality in Bayesian chronological models in archaeology, World Archaeol, 47, 677–700

Bayliss, A, Brock, F, Farid, S, Hodder, I, Southon, J, and Taylor, R E, 2015 Getting to the bottom of it all: a Bayesian approach to dating the start of Çatalhöyük, J World Prehistory, 28, 1–26

Marciniak, A, Barański, M Z, Bayliss, A, Czerniak, L, Goslar, T, Southon, J, and Taylor, R E, 2015 Fragmenting Times: interpreting a Bayesian chronology for the late Neolithic occupation of Çatalhöyük East, Turkey, Antiquity, 89, 154–76

Bayliss, A, and Whittle, A, 2015 Uncertain on Principle: combining lines of archaeological evidence to create chronologies, in Material Culture as Evidence: Learning from Archaeological Practice (eds A Wylie and R Chapman), 213–42, London (Routledge)

Arnold, A, Bayliss, A, Cook, G, Howard, R, Marshall, P, and Miles, D, 2014 Radiocarbon Date List 4, Vernacular Architect, 45, 96−7

Bayliss, A, Farid, S, and Higham, T, 2014 Time Will Tell: Practising Bayesian Chronological Modeling on the East Mound, in Çatalhöyük excavations: the 2000-2008 seasons (ed I Hodder), 53–90, Çatalhöyük Reseach Project Ser 7, British Institute at Ankara Monogr 46 / Monumenta Archaeologica 29. Los Angeles (Cotsen Institute of Archaeol Press)

Reimer, P J, Bard, E, Bayliss, A, Beck, J W, Blackwell, P, Bronk Ramsey, C, Brown, D M, Buck, C E, Edwards, R L, Friedrich, M, Grootes, P M, Guilderson, T P, Haflidason, H, Hajdas, I, Hatté, C, Heaton, T J, Hogg, A G, Hughen, K A, Kaiser, K F, Kromer, B, Manning, S W, Reimer, R W, Richards, D A, Scott, E M, Southon, J R, Turney, C S M, and van der Plicht, J, 2013 Selection and treatment of data for radiocarbon calibration: an update to the international calibration (IntCal) criteria, Radiocarbon, 55, 1923–45

Reimer, P J, Bard, E, Bayliss, A, Beck, J W, Blackwell, P, Bronk Ramsey, C, Buck, C E, Cheng, H, Edwards, R L, Friedrich, M, Grootes, P M, Guilderson, T P, Haflidason, H, Hajdas, I, Hatté, C, Heaton, T J, Hoffmann, D L, Hogg, A G, Hughen, K A, Kaiser, K F, Kromer, B, Manning, S W, Niu, M, Reimer, R W, Richards, D A, Scott, E M, Southon, J R, Staff, R A, Turney, C S M, and van der Plicht, J, 2013 IntCal13 and Marine13 radiocarbon age calibration curves 0–50,000 years cal BP, Radiocarbon, 55, 1869–87

Bayliss, A, and O’Sullivan, M, 2013 Interpreting chronologies for the Mound of the Hostages, Tara and its contemporary contexts in Neolithic and Bronze Age Ireland, in Tara—from the Past to the Future. Towards a new research agenda.(eds M O’Sullivan, C Scarre, and M Doyle), 26–104. Dublin (Wordwell)

Bayliss, A, and Grogan, E, 2013 Chronologies for Tara and comparable Royal Sites of the Irish Iron Age, in Tara—from the Past to the Future. Towards a new research agenda.(eds M O’Sullivan, , C Scarre, and M Doyle), 105–44. Dublin (Wordwell)

Wysocki, M, Griffiths, S, Hedges, R, Bayliss, A, Higham, T, Fernandez-Jalvo, Y, and Whittle, A, 2013 Dates, diet, and dismemberment: evidence from the Coldrum Megalithic monument, Kent, Proc Prehist Soc, 79, 1–30

Brock, F, Wood, R, Higham, T F G, Ditchfield, P, Bayliss, A, and Bronk Ramsey, C, 2012 Reliability of nitrogen content (%N) and carbon:nitrogen atomic ratios (C:N) as indicators of collagen preservation suitable for radiocarbon dating, Radiocarbon, 54, 879–86

Cook, G T, Higham, T F G, Naysmith, P, Brock, F, Freeman, SP H T, and Bayliss, A, 2012 Assessment of infinite-age bones from the Upper Thames Valley, UK, as 14C background standards, Radiocarbon, 54, 845–54

Whittle, A, Healy, F, and Bayliss, A, 2011 Rassembler le temps: la datation des enceintes à fosses interrompus du Néolithique Ancien du sud de la Grande-Bretagne, in Le Néolithique du Nord de la France dans son contexte européen: habitat et économie aux 4e et 3e millénaires avant notre ère (eds F Bostyn, E Martial, and I Praud), Revue Archéologie de Picardie, no spécial 28, 41–54

Gibson, A, and Bayliss, A,2010 Recent work on the Neolithic round barrows of the upper Great Wold Valley, Yorkshire, in Round Mounds and Monumentality in the British Neolithic and Beyond (eds J Leary, T Darvill, and D Field), Neolithic Studies Group Seminar Pap, 10, 72–107, Oxford (Oxbow)

Whittle, A, Bayliss, A, and Healy, F, 2010 Event and short-term process: times for the early Neolithic of southern Britain, in Eventful archaeologies: new approaches to social transformation in the archaeological record (ed D J Bolender), IEMA Distinguished Monogr Ser, 1, 68–87, Albany (State Univ New York Press)

Gibson, A, and Bayliss, A, 2009 Recent research at Duggleby Howe, North Yorkshire, Archaeol J, 166, 39–78

Reimer, P J, Baillie, M G L, Bard, E, Bayliss, A, Beck, J W, Bertrand, C J H, Blackwell, P G, Bronk Ramsey, C, Buck, C E, Burr, Edwards, R L, Friedrich, M, Grootes, P M, Guilderson, T P, Hajdas, I, Heaton, T J, Hogg, A G, Hughen, K A, Kaiser, K F, Kromer, B, McCormac, F G, Manning, S W, Reimer, R W, Richards, D A, Southon, J R, Talamo, S, Turney, C S M, van der Plicht, J, and Weyhenmeyer, C E, 2009  IntCal09 and Marine09 radiocarbon age calibration curves, 0-50,000 years cal BP, Radiocarbon, 51, 1111–50

Bayliss, A, and Woodman, P, 2009 A new Bayesian chronology for Mesolithic occupation at Mount Sandel, Northern Ireland, Proc Prehist Soc, 75, 101–23

Tyers, C, Sidell, J, van der Plicht, J, Marshall, P, Cook, G, Bronk Ramsey, C, and Bayliss, A, 2009 Wiggle-matching using known-age pine from Jermyn Street, London, UK, Radiocarbon, 51, 385–96

Bayliss, A, 2009 Rolling out Revolution: using radiocarbon dating in archaeology, Radiocarbon, 51, 123–47

Bayliss, A, Whittle, A, and Healy, F, 2008 Timing, tempo and temporalities in the early Neolithic of southern Britain, in Between foraging and farming: an extended broad spectrum of papers presented to Leendert Louwe Kooijmans (eds H Fokkens, B J Coles, A L van Gijn, J P Kleijne, H H Ponjee, and CG Slappendel), Analecta Praehistorica Leidensia, 40, 26–42

McCormac, F G, Bayliss, A, Brown, D M, Reimer, P J, and Thompson, M M, 2008 Extended radiocarbon calibration in the Anglo-Saxon Period, AD 395–485 and AD 735–805, Radiocarbon, 50, 11–17

Sheridan, A, and Bayliss, A, 2008 Pots and time in Bronze Age Ireland, Antiquity, 82, 204–7

Whittle, A, Bayliss, A, and Healy, F, 2008 The timing and tempo of change: examples from the fourth millennium cal BC in southern England, Cantab Archaeol J, 18, 65–70

Loveday, R, Gibson, A, Marshall, P D, Bayliss, A, Bronk Ramsey, C, and van der Plicht, J, 2007 The antler maceheads dating project, Proc Prehist Soc, 73, 381–92

Whittle A, Bayliss, A, and Healy, F, 2007 Comment on Beck et al., 'Eventful archaeology: the place of space in structural transformation', Current Anthropology, 48, 853–4

Hamilton, W D, Bayliss, A, Menuge, A, Bronk Ramsey, C, and Cook, G, 2007 “Rev Thomas Bayes: Get Ready To Wiggle” – Bayesian Modelling, Radiocarbon Wiggle-Matching, and the North Wing of Baguley Hall, Vernacular Architect, 38, 87–97

Bayliss, A, 2007 Bayesian Buildings: an introduction for the numerically challenged, Vernacular Architect, 38, 75–86

Whittle, A, and Bayliss, A, 2007 The Times of their Lives: from chronological precision to kinds of history and change, Cantab Archaeol J, 17, 21–-8

Sidell, J, Thomas, C, and Bayliss, A, 2007 Validating and improving archaeological phasing at St Mary Spital, London, UK, Radiocarbon, 42, 593–610

Bayliss, A , McAvoy, F, and Whittle, A, 2007 The world recreated: redating Silbury Hill in its monumental landscape, Antiquity, 81, 26–53

Bayliss, A, Benson, D, Galer, D, Humphrey, L, McFadyen, L, andWhittle, A, 2007  One thing after another: the date of the Ascott-under-Wychwood long barrow, Cantab Archaeol J, 17, 29–44

Bayliss, A, Bronk Ramsey, C, van der Plicht, J, and Whittle, A, 2007  Bradshaw and Bayes: towards a timetable for the Neolithic, Cantab Archaeol J, 17, 1–28

Bayliss, A, Whittle, A, and Wysocki, M, 2007 Talking about my generation: the date of the West Kennet long barrow, Cantab Archaeol J, 17, 85–101

Meadows, J, Barclay, A, and Bayliss, A, 2007 A short passage of time: the dating of the Hazleton long cairn revisited, Cantab Archaeol J, 17, 45–64

Whittle, A, Bayliss, A, and Wysocki, M, 2007  Once in a lifetime: the date of the Wayland’s Smithy long barrow, Cantab Archaeol J, 17, 103–21

Whittle, A, Barclay, A, Bayliss, A, McFadgen, L, Schulting, R, and Wysocki, M, 2007  Building for the dead: events, processes and changing worldviews from the 38th to the 34th centuries cal BC in southern Britain, Cantab Archaeol J, 17, 123–47

Wysocki, M, Bayliss, A, and Whittle, A, 2007 Serious mortality: the date of the Fussell’s Lodge long barrow, Cantab Archaeol J, 17, 65–84

Contributions to monographs (selected)

Marshall, P D, Barclay, A J, Bayliss, A, Bronk Ramsey, C, Cook, G, Grootes, P M, Meadows, J, and van der Plicht, J, 2014 Chapter 3: chronology and the radiocarbon dating programme, in Cliffs End Farm, Isle of Thanet, Kent: a mortuary and ritual site of the Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Anglo-Saxon period (J I McKinley, M Leivers, J Schuster, P Marshall, A J Barclay, and N Stoodley), Wessex Archaeol Rep, 31, 65–92

Marshall, P, Bayliss, A, Leary, J, Campbell, G, Worley , F, Bronk Ramsey, C, and Cook, G, 2013 The Silbury Chronology, in Silbury Hill: The largest prehistoric mound in Europe (eds J Leary, D Field and G Campbell), English Heritage, Swindon, 97–116

Bayliss, A, Beavan, N, Hines, J, Høilund Nielsen, K, and McCormac, G, 2012 Radiocarbon Dating and Chronological Modelling, in Buckland Anglo-Saxon Cemetery, Dover: excavations 1994 (K Parfitt and T Anderson), 360–6, Canterbury (Canterbury Archaeological Trust)

Bayliss, A, and Hey, G, 2011  Absolute Chronology, in Yarnton: Iron Age and Romano-British settlement and landscape (G Hey, P Booth, and J Timby), Thames Valley Landscapes, 35, 333–43, Oxford (Oxford Archaeology)

Bayliss, A, Finn, N, Higham, T, Meadows, J, and Rhodes, E, 2011 Absolute Dating of the Cemetery, in Bronze Age Ceremonial Enclosures and Cremation Cemetery at Eye Kettleby, Leicestershire: the development of a prehistoric landscape (N Finn), Leicester Archaeology Monogr, 20, 53–61

Griffiths, S, Bayliss, A, Ford, B M, Hounslow, M, Karlouskovski, V, Bronk Ramsey, C, Cook, G, and Marshall, P, 2011 Chapter 6: Overview of the scientific dating evidence, in Winchester: a city in the making, archaeological excavations between 2002 and 2007 on the sites of Northgate House, Staple Gardens and the former Winchester Library, Jewry St (B M Ford and S Teague), Oxford Archaeol Monogr, 12, 225–36

Bayliss, A, and Atkins, C, 2011 Chapter 15: Specialist Studies 1, Interpreting Chronology, in St Peter’s, Barton-upon-Humber, Lincolnshire: a parish church and its community. Volume 1: History, Archaeology and Architecture, Part 2 (W Rodwell with C Atkins), 753–88, Oxford (OxBow)

Marshall, P D, Meadows, J, Bayliss, A, Sparks, R, Bronk Ramsey, C, and Beavan-Athfield, N, 2010 Scientific Dating, in The Beautiful Rooms are Empty: excavations at Binchester Roman Fort, County Durham, 1976-1981 and 1986-1991 (I Ferris), 527–38, Durham (Durham County Council)

Bayliss, A, Shepherd Popescu, E, Cook, G, Bronk Ramsey, C, and Beavan-Athfield, N, 2009 Radiocarbon Dating, in Norwich Castle: Excavations and Historical Survey, 1987–98. Part I: Anglo-Saxon to c. 1345 (E Shepherd Popescu), East Anglian Archaeology, 132, 237–48

Marshall, P, Tipper, J, Bayliss, A, McCormac, F G, van der Plicht, J, Bronk Ramsey, C, and Beavan-Athfield, N, 2009 Absolute Dating, in The Anglo-Saxon Settlement and Cemetery at Bloodmoor Hill, Carlton Colville, Suffolk (S Lucy, J Tipper, and A Dickens), East Anglian Archaeol, 131, 322–9

Bayliss, A, Scull, C, McCormac, F G, Bronk Ramsey, C, and Athfield Beavan, N, 2009  Radiocarbon dating, in Early Medieval (late 5th - early 8th centuries AD) cemeteries at Boss Hall and Buttermarket, Ipswich, Suffolk (C Scull), Soc Medieval Archaeol Monogr, 27, 261–7

Bayliss, A, Bronk Ramsey, C, Cook, G, Ladle, L, Meadows, J, van der Plicht, J, Scaife, R, and Woodward, A, 2009 Chapter 6: Radiocarbon Dating, in Excavations at Bestwall Quarry, Wareham, 1992-2005, Volume 1: the Prehistoric Landscape (L Ladle and A Woodward), Dorset Natural History and Archaeol Soc Monograph, 19, 126–53

Bayliss, A, Healy, F, Bronk Ramsey, C, McCormac, F G, and Mercer, R, 2008 Interpreting Chronology, in Hambledon Hill, Dorset, England: excavation and survey of a Neolithic monument complex and its surrounding landscape (R Mercer and F Healey), 378–411, Swindon (English Heritage)

Healy, F, Harding, J, and Bayliss, A, 2007 Chapter 3: the development of the monuments, in The Raunds Area Project: a Neolithic and Bronze Age landscape in Northamptonshire (J Harding and F Healy), 37–198, Swindon (English Heritage)

Bayliss, A, Boomer, I, Bronk Ramsey, C, Hamilton, D, and Waddington C, 2007 Chapter 6: Absolute Dating, in Mesolithic Settlement in the North Sea Basin: a case study from Howick, North-East England (ed C Waddington), 65-74, Oxford (Oxbow)

Waddington C, Bailey, G, Bayliss, A, and Milner, N, 2007 Chapter 15: Howick in its North Sea context, in Mesolithic Settlement in the North Sea Basin: a case study from Howick, North-East England (ed C Waddington), 201–24, Oxford (Oxbow)

Bayliss, A, Cook, G T, and Heighway, C, 2007  Chapter 14: Radiocarbon Dating, in Wharram: a study of settlement on the Yorkshire Wolds, XI (the churchyard)(S Mays, C Harding, and C Heighway), York Univ Archaeol Publications, 13, 193–215

Other information

Head of Scientific Dating, Historic England (1993 to present)

Honorary Professor, Cardiff University (2013 to present)

Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (2009 to present)

Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society (2007 to present)

Honorary Research Fellow, Cardiff University (2007–13)

Member of the Institute of Field Archaeologists (2006–12)

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