Professor Richard Thomas

Professor of Archaeology and Dean of Research (College of Social Science, Arts and Humanities)

Profile

Professor Richard Thomas’ research in zooarchaeology centres on the analysis of animal bones from archaeological sites and has two main strands: the reconstruction of past human-animal relationships, predominantly in the historic period; and animal palaeopathology – the study of animal health, disease and injury in the past. His research explores the changing relationships between humans and animals and examines the contemporary relevance of these findings.

He co-directs the Bradgate Park Fieldschool – a multi-period archaeological excavation of a country park in Leicestershire, which includes the ruins of the childhood home of Lady Jane Grey, nine-day queen of Tudor England.

Professor Thomas is the Dean of Research for the University’s College of Social Science, Arts and Humanities.

Research

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

  • the reconstruction of past human-animal relationships, predominantly in the historic period
  • palaeopathology – the study of animal health and disease in the past.

Publications

Best, J., Doherty, S., Buster, L.S., Armit, I., Boev, Z. N., Cunliffe, B., Foster, A., Frimet, B., Hamilton-Dyer, S. Higham, T., Lebrassuer, O., Mepham, L., Miller, H., Peters, J., Seigle, M., Skelton, C., Symmons, R. , Thomas, R., Trentacoste, A., Maltby, M., Larson, G., and Sykes, N. 2021. Radiocarbon dating redefines the timing and circumstances of the chicken’s introduction to Europe and northwest Africa. Antiquity

Doherty, S. P., Foster, A., Best, J., Larson, G., Lebrasseur, O., Knapp, Z., Sadler, P., Skelton, C, Smallman, R., Wolderikos, H., Thomas, R. and Sykes, N. 2021. Estimating the age of domestic fowl (Gallus gallus domesticus) cockerels through spur development. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 10.1002/oa.2988.

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. https://doi.org/10.1017/eaa.2020.6

Haruda, A., Miller, V., Paijmans, J. L. A., Barlow, A., Tazhekeev, A., Bilalov, S., Hesse, Y, Preick, M., King, T., Thomas, R., Härke, H., Arzhantseva, I. 2020. The earliest domestic cat on the Silk Road. Nature Scientific Reports https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-67798-6.

Holmes, M., Hamerow, H. and Thomas, R. 2021. Close Companions? A Zooarchaeological Study of the Human–Cattle Relationship in Medieval England. Animals 11: 1174. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11041174

Holmes, M., Thomas, R. and Hamerow, H. 2021. Periodontal disease in sheep and cattle: understanding dental health in past animal populations. International Journal of Paleopathology 33: 43-54 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpp.2021.02.002

Holmes, M., Thomas, R. and Hamerow, H. 2021. Identifying draught cattle in the past: lessons from large-scale analysis of archaeological datasets. International Journal of Paleopathology 33: 258-269. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1879981721000322

Holmes, M., Thomas, R. and Hamerow, H. 2021. Lesions in sheep elbows: insights from a large-scale study. International Journal of Paleopathology 34: 50-62. 10.1016/j.ijpp.2021.05.007

Johnston, R., Christie, J., Thomas, R., Graves-Brown, C., Goodridge, W., Jones, R., North, L. 2020. Evidence of diet, deification, and death within ancient Egyptian mummified animals. Scientific Reports 10, 14113 doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-69726-0

Lloveras Ll., Thomas R., Moreno-García M., Nadal J., Tomàs-Gimeno X., Rissech C. and Bellis L. 2021. Pathological and sub-pathological changes in European rabbit bones: two reference cases to be applied to the analysis of archaeological assemblages. International Journal of Paleopathology 34: 90-100. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpp.2021.06.004

Supervision

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

Teaching

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.

Media enquiries

Get in touch for media enquiries, expert opinion, interviews, images or video.

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