Reading Recommendations for the Aspiring Archaeologist

Are you just starting, or about to start your studies in archaeology? Do you know someone who is?

We’ve assembled a glittering hoard of reading essentials; the perfect preparation for your archaeology course. To help out even more, we’re offering 20% off full price books on this list when you use code INTRO20 at checkout on the Oxbow website before 30th September.

So what are you waiting for? Scroll down to dig into introductions to Viking Age Magic, Numismatics, and Textile research, as well as Oxbow’s sensational student-aimed Studying Scientific Archaeology series.

By the Oxbow Books Team

Starter Kit

Archaeology is a many and varied discipline, with a wide array of topics to choose from. Start exploring the subject with the fascinating volumes in this starter kit.

Ancient DNA and the European Neolithic

Relations and Descent

Edited by Alasdair Whittle, Joshua Pollard and Susan Greaney

Want to explore the impact of recent ancient DNA results on studies of the European Neolithic and uncover unparalleled insights into central problems within archaeology relating to the movement of populations and individuals, patterns of descent, relationships and aspects of identity? In this volume, geneticists and archaeologists come together in a constructive, wide-ranging inter-disciplinary debate about key issues arising from the application of advanced DNA analysis to the study of the European Neolithic and Chalcolithic. Find out more.

Oxbow Books | Paperback | 9781789259100 | 208 pages | 2022 | RRP: £40.00 | Offer Price: £32.00

The Viking Way

Magic and Mind in Late Iron Age Scandinavia

By Neil Price 

This bewitching book examines the evidence for Old Norse sorcery, looking at its meaning and function, practice and practitioners, and the complicated constructions of gender and sexual identity with which these were underpinned. Combining strong elements of eroticism and aggression, sorcery appears as a fundamental domain of women’s power, linking them with the gods, the dead and the future. What emerges is a fundamentally new image of the world in which the Vikings understood themselves to move, in which magic and its implications permeated every aspect of a society permanently geared for war. Find out more.

Oxbow Books | Hardback | 9781842172605 | 432 pages | 2019 | RRP: £35.00 | Offer Price: £28.00

A Geography of Offerings

Deposits of Valuables in the Landscapes of Ancient Europe

By Richard Bradley

Investigate this provocative study of current approaches to and theories regarding the character, location, social and physical context and object histories of specialised deposits in the European archaeological record. This is an extended essay about the strengths and weaknesses of current thinking regarding specialised deposits. It considers current approaches and theory, the histories of individual artefacts and the landscape and physical context of the places where they were deposited, the character of materials, the importance of animism and the character of ancient cosmologies. Find out more.

Oxbow Books | Paperback | 9781785704772 | 160 pages | 2016 | RRP: £15.99 | Offer Price: £12.79

Exploring Ancient Textiles

Pushing the Boundaries of Established Methodologies

Edited by Alistair Dickey, Margarita Gleba, Sarah Hitchens and Gabriella Longhitano

Thread your way through this book, which highlights how researchers have been challenged to adapt or modify analytical methods to enable extraction of comparable data from often recalcitrant assemblages. The authors have applied new perspectives and approaches to extend the focus on less investigated aspects and artefacts. Weaving together geography and chronology, methodological considerations are explored through three themes – tools; textiles and fibres; culture and identity – driving forward the methodological debates around textile research to generate new conversations about the future of textile archaeology. Find out more.

Oxbow Books | Paperback | 9781789257250 | 176 pages | 2022 | RRP: £36.00 | Offer Price: £28.80

Fear of Farming

By Caroline Wickham-Jones

The environmental crisis is one of the most pressing concerns to face the population of the world today. The debate centres on the way in which our current problems are of recent making and how we might fix them. But in reality the issue is far more fundamental and stretches back further in time than many of us might think. This book traces the origins of our present situation to the changes that came about with the introduction of farming to Britain 6000 years ago and the inexorable course of human development since then. It also looks at the much older traits from a way of life long gone in Britain, from the hunter-gatherers who lived here over the millennia before the introduction of farming. These traits, almost forgotten, but never quite lost, are now re-surfacing and may hold many of the keys to our continued existence. Find out more.

Windgather Press |Paperback | 9781905119325 | 176 pages | 2010 | RRP: £16.95 | Offer Price: £13.56

Archaeology Without Digging

Connecticut History Uncovered by Ground-Penetrating Radar

By Deborah Surabian, Nick Bellantoni and James Doolittle

This book narrates the stories of ground-penetrating radar (GPR) studies at ten significant historical locations in Connecticut, spanning the 17th to the 20th centuries. These include the ‘lost’ grave of an African-American Revolutionary War veteran, the verification of French Revolutionary War military personnel in a mass grave, the detection of a below-ground hidden 19th-century family burial tomb, the discovery of hurriedly dug, unmarked burials associated with the 1918 influenza pandemic and the detection of the unknown location of a 1941 military plane crash site. The authors bring their collective expertise to the reader in a scientific manner with a personal, story-telling touch. Each chapter delves into the history of the sites, the nature of the geophysical search and the interpretation of data with regard to solving an historical problem. Find out more.

Oxbow Books | Paperback | 9781789259261 | 144 pages | 2023 | RRP: £30.00 | Offer Price: £24.00

Remember to use code INTRO20 at checkout to get 20% off!

Studying Scientific Archaeology Series

The books in Oxbow’s Studying Scientific Archaeology Series aim to demonstrate how scientific analyses contribute to our wider understanding of past human behaviour, technology and economy and to encourage readers in practical research.

An Introduction to Peatland Archaeology and Palaeoenvironments

By Benjamin R. Gearey and Henry P. Chapman

Dig into this volume, which provides an accessible introduction to the ecology and formation processes of peatlands, the ‘archives’ of past environmental changes. Uncover the different archaeological and palaeoenvironmental techniques that have been developed and adapted for the study of these environments. The book offers an outline of the major themes and methods and a guide to other more detailed and technical literature concerning peatland archaeology. It is aimed at undergraduate and postgraduate students in archaeology, earth sciences and cognate disciplines, but will be useful to professional archaeologists who are looking to develop their expertise in this field The case studies have been selected to illustrate examples of ‘best practice’. Find out more.

Oxbow Books | Paperback | 9781789257557 | 160 pages | 2022 | RRP: £29.95 | Offer Price: £23.96

Scientific Dating in Archaeology

Edited by Seren Griffiths

A variety of techniques have been developed to provide scientific chronologies of archaeological sites and material culture. The application of Bayesian statistical analysis to scientific chronologies has been hailed as ‘a revolution in understanding’, and has brought renewed emphasis onto how we generate scientific chronological data, how these data are applied into wider narratives, and the epistemological importance of these data. This volume provides a timely review of the methods, applications and challenges of applying different scientific dating techniques to archaeological sites and material culture. It also presents an accessible introduction to Bayesian modelling, and highlights a series of considerations in the application of scientific dating techniques. Find out more.

Oxbow Books | Paperback | 9781789255621| 256 pages | 2022 | RRP: £29.95 | Offer Price: £23.96

Human Transformations of the Earth

By Charles French

This book explains how human activities have shaped and altered the development of soils in different climatic and landscape zones throughout the world. Case studies examine major transformations of soilscapes as a result of human endeavour and long-term climate change and show how major impacts on landscapes alter and adapt the soil developmental history, region by region, landscape-type by type, providing new understandings of human eco-dynamic modifications of past landscapes with respect to land-use sustainability and resilience. The transformations identified are relevant to prevalent themes of today such as over-development and soil, land and environmental degradation and resilience. The studies articulated relate to Britain, southeastern Europe, the Mediterranean basin, East Africa, northern India and Peru in South America. Find out more.

Oxbow Books | Paperback | 9781789259209 | 256 pages | 2022 | RRP: £40.00 | Offer Price: £32.00

Wild Harvest

Plants in the Hominin and Pre-Agrarian Human Worlds

Edited by Karen Hardy and Lucy Kubiak-Martens

Plants are fundamental to life; they are used by all human groups and most animals. They provide raw materials, vitamins and essential nutrients and we could not survive without them. Yet access to plant use before the Neolithic can be challenging. In some places, plant remains rarely survive and the reconstruction of plant use in pre-agrarian contexts needs to be conducted using a range of different techniques. This lack of visible evidence has led to plants being undervalued, both in terms of their contribution to diet and as raw materials. This book outlines why the role of plants is required for a better understanding of hominin and pre-agrarian human life, and offers a variety of ways in which this can be achieved. Find out more.

Oxbow Books | Paperback | 9781785701238 | 386 pages | 2016 | RRP: £32.00 | Special Price: £12.95

A Handbook of Geoarchaeological Approaches to Settlement Sites and Landscapes

By Charles French

Geoarchaeology is a major branch of archaeological science at the interfaces between geology, geography and archaeology, involving the combined study of archaeological, soil and geomorphological records and the recognition of how natural, climatic and human-induced processes alter landscapes. The formation and modification of past soils, and occupation sequences can be examined primarily through the use of soil micromorphological techniques and various physical and geo-chemical techniques. This short text aims to explain some of the basics of geoarchaeological approaches and research design used to tackle the investigation of landscapes and settlement archaeology, and the application of soil micromorphology to archaeological situations. The intention is to present a basic handbook of good practice, with case studies and examples, that any archaeologist or aspiring geoarchaeologist can use. Find out more.

Oxbow Books | Paperback | 9781785700910 | 144 pages | 2015 | RRP: £16.95 | Offer Price: £13.56

Landscape Beneath the Waves

The Archaeological Investigation of Underwater Landscapes

By Caroline Wickham-Jones

At the end of the last Ice Age, sea level around the world was lower, coastal lands stretched further and the continents were bigger, in some cases landmasses were joined by dry land that has now disappeared beneath the waves. The study of the now submerged landscapes that our ancestors knew represents one of the last barriers for archaeology. Only recently have advances in underwater technology reached the stage where a wealth of procedures is available to explore this lost undersea world. Dive into this volume, which considers the processes behind the rising (and falling) of relative sea-levels and then presents the main techniques available for the study and interpretation of the archaeological remains that have survived inundation. Find out more.

Oxbow Books | Paperback | 9781789250725 | 256 pages | 2018 | RRP: £29.95 | Offer Price: £23.96

Molluscs in Archaeology

Methods, Approaches and Applications

Edited by Michael J. Allen

Marine molluscs are a common find on archaeological sites, where they may represent food waste or their shells having been utilised as tools, artefacts and ornaments. Land snails are also found as food waste in middens, but more commonly their microscopic remains are used to examine site environmental and land use histories. This comprehensive collection by most of the leading researchers in the field will give the reader an overview of the whole topic: methods of analysis and approaches to interpretation. It provides insight into how to apply analysis to different present and past landscapes, and how to interpret those landscapes. Combining authoritative overviews with a range of case studies, this book concentrates on analysis and interpretation that most archaeologists and students can undertake and understand, and reviews the ‘heavier’ science in terms of potential, application and interpretational value. Find out more.

Oxbow Books | Paperback | 9781785706080 | 448 pages | 2017 | RRP: £25.00 | Offer Price: £20.00

Enjoy 20% off with code INTRO20!


Polish up your knowledge of Numismatics, with these great guides to Ancient Greek and Roman coins.

An Introductory Guide to Ancient Greek and Roman Coins. Volume I

Greek Civic Coins and Tribal Issues

By David Sear

This is the first volume of David Sear’s brand new introductory guide to ancient coins, covering Greek civic coins and tribal issues, and the very first release in Spink’s new Living History series. Ancient coins have long fascinated generations of collectors by virtue of their beauty, the stories they tell, and for the unique insight they give into the history of the time in which they were made. They can be held, felt and examined without the need for visiting a museum – they are, quite literally, living history. David Sear’s three volume guide is intended to give a general background to the fascinating world of ancient coins, looking back more than 26 centuries to the lands of the eastern Mediterranean, at how coins were designed and produced, and at how they can reveal so much to us today of the time in which they were produced. Find out more.

Spink Books | Paperback | 9781907427657 | 512 pages | 2020 | RRP: £50.00 | Offer Price: £40.00

An Introductory Guide to Ancient Greek and Roman Coinage. Volume II

Regal Coins of the Hellenistic Age

By David Sear

The second volume of David R Sear’s comprehensive guide to ancient coins – part of Spink’s Living History series – covers Hellenistic Regal Issues. As well as an accessible and informative overview of Hellenistic Regal coinage, it provides a general background to the fascinating world of ancient coins, looking back more than 26 centuries to the lands of the eastern Mediterranean, at how coins were designed and produced, and at how they can reveal so much to us today of the time in which they were produced. Find out more.

Spink Books | Paperback | 9781912667871 | 336 pages | 2023 | RRP: £50.00 | Offer Price: £40.00

Language and Texts

Are you a lover of language? These books will help you to study sagas, translate texts, get to grips with grammar and more.

Old Norse – Old Icelandic

Concise Introduction to the Language of the Sagas

By Jesse Byock and Randall Gordon

This is a modern “primer” for learning to read Icelandic sagas and Viking myths in their original language. Carefully designed and easy-to-use, this primer teaches grammar and vocabulary in a straightforward way, requiring no previous language knowledge. Suitable for self-learning, in-class use, and distance teaching, students read, from the first pages, Old Norse passages from Icelandic sagas as well as episodes from Scandinavian mythology and medieval sources. The language and thought of the Viking Age come alive in these Old Norse reading segments. For a free Answer Key to the exercises, visit: Find out more.

Jules William Press | Paperback | 9781953947093 | 215 pages | 2021 | RRP: £16.99 | Offer Price: £13.59

Viking Language 1

By Jesse L. Byock

This book is a new introduction to Old Norse and Icelandic. The beginner has everything in one book: Graded lessons, reading passages, vocabulary, grammar exercises, and pronunciation. A full complement of maps, runic inscriptions and culture sections explore the civilization, legends, and myths of the Vikings. The lessons follow an innovative word frequency strategy, a method that speeds learning. Because the grammar of Modern Icelandic has changed so little from Old Norse, the learner is well on the way to mastering Modern Icelandic. Find out more.

Jules William Press | Paperback | 9781480216440 | 384 pages | 2013 | RRP: £29.99 | Offer Price: £23.99

Viking Language 2

Jesse L. Byock

This second book in the Viking Language series immerses the learner in Old Norse and Icelandic. Readings include a wealth of Old Norse myths, legends, complete Icelandic sagas, poems of the Scandinavian gods, runic inscriptions. There is a large vocabulary and a full reference grammar. Selections from Old Norse and rune texts range from the doom of the gods at the final battle Ragnarok to descriptions of the dwarves’ gold and the ring that inspired Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Wagner’s Ring Cycle, and a host of modern fantasy. Find out more.

Jules William Press | Paperback | 9781481175265 | 384 pages | 2014 | RRP: £29.99 | Offer Price: £23.99

An Introduction to Syriac Studies

By Sebastian Brock

This introduction aims to provide basic guidance to important areas of Syriac studies. The relevance of Syriac studies to a variety of other fields is explored. A brief orientation to the history of Syriac literature is offered, and Syriac is set within the context of the other Aramaic dialects. A thorough discussion on important tools (Instrumenta Studiorum) is presented; topics include grammars, dictionaries, the Bible in Syriac, histories of Syriac literature, bibliographical aids and relevant series, periodicals, and encyclopedias. This Introduction should prove useful both for the student beginning Syriac studies and for scholars working in adjacent fields. Find out more.

Gorgias Press | Paperback | 9781463207137 | 103 pages | 2017 | RRP: £32.00 | Offer Price: £25.60

Introduction to Working with Manuscripts for Medievalists

By János Bak

A short guide for studying, editing and translating medieval texts in manuscript form, outlining the technical steps for preparing a medieval manuscript for print: evaluating and describing the manuscript itself (transmission, provenance, and physical description), textual criticism (reconstruction, emendation, authenticity, dating, and authorship), and steps to preparing an edition or translation. Find out more.

Gorgias Press | Paperback | 9781463206437 | 82 pages | 2017 | RRP: £28.00 | Offer Price: £22.40

Remember to use code INTRO20 at checkout on the Oxbow website before 30th September to enjoy 20% off full price books in this list.