Prof Richard Thomas

Professor Richard Thomas photoProfessor of Archaeology

Dean of Research (CSSAH)

BA, PhD (Birmingham), FLS, FSA, SFHEA

Tel: +44 (0)116 252 3343




Personal details

I read Ancient History and Archaeology at Birmingham University (1995-1998) before completing a PhD at Birmingham, studying diet, agriculture, and human-animal relations in late medieval and early modern England. I have been a member of staff in the School of Archaeology and Ancient History since 2003 and was appointed Professor in 2019. I am currently the Dean of Research for the College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities. My career highlight has been filming a documentary with Sir David Attenborough about Jumbo the elephant.


I teach across all three levels of undergraduate study to campus-based and distance learning students and teach postgraduate taught students. My teaching primarily focusses on the analysis of biological materials in the archaeological record, including environmental archaeology and zooarchaeology. I also contribute to teaching on the archaeology of medieval and early modern Britain.. I was co-director of the Bradgate Park Fieldschool.


My research centres on the analysis of animal bones from archaeological sites (zooarchaeology) and has two main strands:

  1. the reconstruction of past human-animal relationships, predominantly in the historic period
  2. palaeopathology – the study of animal health and disease in the past. See the Bone Laboratory website.

Current and recent projects

Research Student Supervision

Topics for Supervision

Zooarchaeology, past human-animal relationships, non-human animal palaeopathology

Current research students

  • Nora Batterman: Revealing Reynard: 10,000 years of human-fox interactions
  • Rebecca Kibble: Multi-scale spatial analysis of zooarchaeological data using GIS
  • Rachel Small: Food, identity and humoral theory in early modern England: a case study from Leicestershire

Past research students

  • 2019 - Lauren Bellis: A dog’s life: an interdisciplinary study of changing human-animal relationships in Roman Britain
  • 2018 - Alison Foster: Identifying chicken breeds in the archaeological record
  • 2018 - Emily Banfield: Animals and ontologies in Neolithic long barrows
  • 2016 - Eric Tourigny: Upper Canada foodways: an analysis of faunal remains recovered from urban household and rural farmstead sites in the area of York (Toronto), AD 1794-1900.
  • 2015 - Meghann Mahoney: Diet and provisioning in Roman small towns: a case study from Ashton, Northamptonshire
  • 2015 - Rebecca Gordon: Feeding the city: zooarchaeological evidence for urban provisioning (1550-1900 AD)
  • 2012 - Brooklynne Fothergill: The bird of the next dawn: the husbandry, transformation and translocation of the turkey
  • 2011 - Matilda Holmes: Food and status in the Saxon and Scandinavian burhs
  • 2008 - Stephanie Vann: A generic recording system for animal palaeopathology
  • 2008 - Judith Porcasi: Subsistence in palaeocoastal California

Learn more about studying for a PhD at Leicester


ResearchGate list of publications

Hamerow, H., Bogaard, A., Charles, M., Forster, E., Holmes, M., McKerracher, M., Neil, S., Bronk Ramsey, C., Stroud, E., and Thomas, R. 2020. An integrated bioarchaeological approach to the Medieval 'Agricultural Revolution'. The case study of Stafford, England. European Journal of Archaeology.

Thomas, R., Law, M., Browning, E., Hill, A. and Small, R. 2020. The changing exploitation of oysters (Ostrea edulis L. 1758) in late medieval and early modern England: a case study from Dudley Castle, West Midlands. Environmental Archaeology 25: 82-95.

Banfield, E., Stoll, A., and Thomas, R. 2019. Healed impact trauma to a Neolithic cattle frontal bone: a posthuman perspective. International Journal of Paleopathology 24: 197-200.

Thomas, R. 2019. Non-human animal paleopathology – are we so different? pp. 809-822, in Buikstra, J. (ed.), Ortner’s Identification of Pathological Conditions in Human Skeletal Remains. Third Edition. London: Academic Press.

Thomas, R., Browning, J., Harvey, J., and Liddle, P. 2019. A medieval hunting lodge at Bradgate Park, Leicestershire. Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society 93: 169-197.

Thomas, R. Holmes, M., Morris, J., Abrehart, E. 2019. ‘The brede of good & strong Horsis’: zooarchaeological evidence for size change in horses from early modern London. Post-Medieval Archaeology 52: 224-238.

Woldekiros, H., D’Andrea, A. C., Thomas, R. Foster, A., Lebrasseur, O., Miller, H., Roberts, J., and Sykes, N. 2019. Archaeological and biometric perspectives on the development of chicken landraces in the Horn of Africa. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 29: 728-735.

Bennett, C., Thomas, R., Zalasiewicz, J., Edgeworth, M., Williams, M., Miller, H. Coles, B., Foster, A., Burton, E. J., Marume, U. 2018. The broiler chicken as a signal of a human reconfigured biosphere. Royal Society Open Science 5 (12) doi: 10.1098/rsos.180325.

Lloveras, L., Thomas, R., Cosso, A., Pinyol, C., and Nadal, J. 2018. When wildcats feed on rabbits: an experimental study to understand the taphonomic signature of European wildcats (Felis silvestris silvestris). Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 10: 449-464.

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