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Dr Jacqui Mulville 

Dr Jacqui Mulville
Position:Reader in Bioarchaeology

Telephone:+44 (0)29 208 74247
Fax:+44 (0)29 208 74929
Location:John Percival Building Room 4.11

Research Interests

My research focuses on the field of bioarchaeology (broadly defined as once living materials).   I have a particular interest in osteoarchaeology and the articulation between the different types of evidence recovered from archaeological sites and the interpretative frameworks used in the construction of human and animal identities.

A second strand within my work is island archaeologies, from the smallest of the 1000 British islands to the larger landmass of mainland Britain itself.   In particular I am interested in the role of humans in the exploitation, introduction, extinction and management of wild species within Britain and its islands.

Current major themes include:

  • The social, symbolic and ritual role of animals and their place in human society –traditionally zooarchaeology has promoted a utilitarian interpretation of the past with animal remains informing upon previous environments or economies.  Active descriptions of human-animal interactions are made through models of hunting and farming and tend to be constrained by opposing themes, with communities either merely subsisting, motivated by the need to avoid starvation, or being driven by efficiency, with maximizing production the overall aim.  There remains a reluctance to address the social nature of the human-animal relationship and I feel that existing approaches fail because they seek particular, proscribed roles for animals.  Whilst it is commonly acknowledged that this simplistic view excludes the wide range of expressions found in the human-animal relationship, there exists little in the way of a framework for alternative interpretations. I have a contract with Routledge to write a book (‘Totems’ and ‘Sacrifices’) further exploring, expanding and debating the nature of the human-animal relationship.
  • The role of hunted/collected animals in farming societies – what are the social and/or economic forces that motivate wild food collection in post-Mesolithic societies?  Central to my work is the sociology of food and the role of hunting, fishing and wildfowling in farming societies and how the procurement, distribution and consumption of wild animals was used to negotiate identities and construct power relationships. I have published work on the exploitation of wild terrestrial and marine resources, with a new edited volume and further research into the role of red deer planned.  Allied to this is my work on marine mammals, in particular cetacea. I undertook a reassessment of the evidence for whaling in prehistory which lead onto a consideration of the role of zooarchaeological data in formulating modern subsistence whaling legislation and opinions. 
  • Islands and Coasts - fieldwork in the Hebrides has been the springboard for a study into the perception of islands as marginal or central places and most recently this is manifest in my field research project Islands in A Common Sea: Archaeology in the Isles of Scilly which commenced in September 2005.   This project actively promotes inter-disciplinary activities in the broadest sense, for example linking universities, governmental and commercial organisations and initiating community involvement.
  • Milk in the archaeological record - its inception, identification and husbandry.  I have tested the prevailing models used for defining past animal economic practices against new data and critiqued the use of historical and ethnographic data in the assessment of these models.  Through inter-disciplinary work I have helped to promote and refine new biomolecular methods of identifying the presence of milk and ensured such research is both relevant and appropriate to archaeological questions.  

Research Projects

Islands in A Common Sea : Research on the Isles of Scilly includes Lyonesse and Dating Bronze Age Entrance Graves.

Research Group

Cardiff Osteological Research Group (GORG)


Impact and Engagement

Future Animals, Future Animals @TEDx Cardiff, Back to the Future, Guerilla Archaeology, Shamanic Street Preachers. 

Co-owner of ZOOARCH, a jiscmail discussion group with over 1000 members from 45 countries.