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Dr Randolph Donahue

PositionSenior Lecturer in Archaeology and Anthropology
LocationK14, Richmond building
DepartmentSchool of Archaeological and Forensic Sciences
Telephone+44 (0) 1274 235531

Research Interests (key words only)

hunter-gatherer adaptive strategies

Teaching and Supervisory Responsibilities

Current teaching responsibilities include contributions to introductory level modules:

  • World Archaeology
  • Archaeology of the British Isles
  • Advanced undergraduate modules:
  • Early Prehistory
  • Lithics
  • Experimental Archaeology and Ethnoarchaelogy

Postgraduate modules:

  • Site Evaluation Methods
  • Palaeolithic Archaeology

He currently supervises five PhD students (funded by AHRC, NERC and other sources).


He taught for three years at SUNY – Stony Brook and four years at the University of Sheffield before joining the School of Archaeological and Forensic Sciences in 1994 and serving as Head from 2002 to 2004.

Study History

Donahue received his PhD in Anthropology from Michigan State University in 1986 where he specialised in the European Stone Age, archaeological (and quantitative) methods, hunter-gatherers, and lithic analyses. 

Professional Activities

Donahue is currently an Adjunct Professor, Department of Anthropology, Michigan State University; Director of the Lithic Microwear Laboratory and Curator of the Douglas Mazonowicz Prehistoric Art Collection, University of Bradford; and Chairs the SoLS Committee of Directors of Postgraduate Research.

He is a previous member of the UK Standing Committee for Archaeology; Director, Marie Curie Research Training Site “Archaeological Biogeochemistry”; and co-author of the NERC thematic programme EFCHED (with C. Gamble, A.M. Pollard). He is Associate Editor, CAPRA (Cave Archaeology and Palaeontology Research Archive), co-Guest Editor, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology (Vol. 25), and a reviewer for J. Archaeological Science, Archaeometry, J. of Anthropological Archaeology, and Current Anthropology.

Donahue organized the English Heritage Archaeological Cave Audit Conference in Settle, N. Yorkshire in March 2007) and the Mobility, Contact and Exchange in Temperate Mesolithic Europe symposium with W. Lovis & R. Whallon. at the Society for American Archaeology, Montreal in April 2004, and in September 2006 he was an Invited Session Co-ordinator, for La Tardiglaciale in Italia, Universitá di Roma (La Sapienza), Roma.

Research Areas

Donahue’s research activities are directed towards understanding the diversity of hunter-gatherer adaptive strategies from the early hominids to the origins of agriculture.

His current Palaeolithic research is examining causes and timing of the human population expansion in northwest Europe at the end of the Last Glacial Maximum, hunter-gatherer mobility and subsistence strategies during the Lateglacial in central Italy, and the hunting capabilities of archaic hominids and early AMH.

Cooperating with Prof. William Lovis (Michigan State University) he has completed the first phase of a major regional study examining hunter-gatherer mobility in boreal forests using the Mesolithic of Yorkshire as a case study (Hunter-Gatherers of the Yorkshire Dales).  The results are challenging previous models that failed to consider adequately the importance of long distance logistical mobility in such environments.

Donahue’s Palaeolithic and Mesolithic research has also led him to be actively engaged in cave archaeology: A Conservation Audit of Archaeological Cave Resources in the Peak District and Yorkshire Dales.

Donahue has specialised in lithic microwear analysis, also referred to as use-wear analysis, which is applied to reconstruct past human activities, site function, social organisation, and site formation processes.

He is the Director of the Lithic Microwear Research Laboratory, located at the University of Bradford, which is further developing the techniques and carries out contract microwear work on stone tools from archaeological sites worldwide. Donahue’s expertise in lithic studies and the design of regional surveys has led him to be a Co-Investigator on various major research projects, including:

  • Socioeconomic Transformations on the Plain of Tehran, Iran

Donahue is involved in an ongoing public outreach project with York Museums Trust and Scarborough Museums with funding from Renaissance Yorkshire. The project includes hands-on sessions for adults and children based on archaeological evidence from Stone Age sites in Europe, with particular focus on Star Carr. As a finale, an annual Prehistory Fair is held on Scarborough Beach, the first having been held in 2007.

Donahue has been awarded over 100 grants and contracts including from AHRC, NERC, British Academy, English Heritage, Fulbright-Hays, Nuffield, and European Commission (Marie Curie Training Site).

Research Collaborations

Donahue has recently initiated a three year project to investigate hunter-gatherer resource procurement in the Late Glacial of peninsular Italy.

This is a collaborative effort between the Universities of Bradford, Royal Holloway, London, Oxford, Pisa, Florence and Rome, the Pigorini Museum and the isotope laboratories at the Max Planck Institute and the British National Isotope Geosciences Laboratory.

The project combines high precision dating with stable isotope analyses to study seasonal ungulate movement; analyses faunal remains to identify human predation; and investigates lithic raw material procurement, tool production and tool use to improve understanding of site function.


  • Donahue, Randolph E., and Evans, Adrian A. 2012. Lithic microwear analysis. In Neanderthals amongst Mammoths: Excavations at Lynford Quarry, Norfolk (W. Boismeier & C. Gamble, eds). London: English Heritage. Pp. 261-274
  • Baumgartner, A., Sampol-Lopez, M., Cemeli E., Schmid, T. E. Evans, A. A., Donahue, R. E., and Anderson, D. 2012. Genotoxicity Assessment of Birch-Bark Tar—A Most Versatile Prehistoric Adhesive. Advances in Anthropology 2(2): 49-56
  • Donahue, Randolph E., and Evans, Adrian A. 2011. Microwear analysis. In Wellington Quarry, Herefordshire (1986-96); (R Jackson and D. Miller, authors). Oxford: Oxbow Books. Pp. 87-93
  • Pellegrini, M., Lee-Thorp, J.A., Donahue, R.E. 2011. The comparison of oxygen isotopes in phosphate (δ18Op) and carbonate (δ18Oc) of biogenic apatite: is it always a reliable check for diagenetic alteration? Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, and Palaeoecology, 310(1-2):71-83
  • Lovis, William A., and Donahue, Randolph E. 2011. Space, Information and Knowledge: Ethnocartography and North American Boreal Forest Hunter-Gatherers. In Information and its Role in Hunter-Gatherer Band Level Societies, (R. Whallon, W. A. Lovis and R. K. Hitchcock, eds.). Ideas, Debates, and Perspectives 5, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, University of California – Los Angeles, Los Angeles. Pp. 59-84
  • Evans, A.A., Langer, J.L., Donahue, R.E., Wolframm, Y.B., Lovis, W.A. 2010. Lithic raw material sourcing and the assessment of Mesolithic landscape organization and mobility strategies in northern England. The Holocene 20(7) 1157-1163. doi: 10.1177/0959683610369500
  • Donahue, Randolph E. and Evans, Adrian A. 2009. Microwear analysis of lithic artefacts. In Island visits: Neolithic and Bronze Age activity on the Trent Valley floor. Excavations at Egginton and Willington (M. G. Beamish, Author). The Derbyshire Archaeological Journal 129: 17-172
  • Lovis, W. & R. Donahue In press. Teasing spatial structure from Malham Tarn Site A: Preliminary analysis of a bioturbated Mesolithic site in West Yorkshire. In M. De Bie (ed.) Drifted Apart. Spatial Analysis of Stone Age Sites in Bioturbated Sediments: Oxford: Archaeopress
  • Donahue, R. E. & A. A. Evans 2009 Microwear Analysis of Lithic Artefacts. In M. G. Beamish Island Visits: Neolithic and Bronze Age Activity on the Trent Valley Floor. Excavations at Egginton and Willington, Derbyshire, 1998-1999: 113-115 The Derbyshire Archaeological Journal 129: 17-172
  • Evans, A. A. & R. E. Donahue 2008. Laser scanning confocal microscopy: a potential technique for the study of lithic microwear. Journal of Archaeological Science 35: 2223-2230.
  • Pellegrini, M., R. E. Donahue, C. Chenery, J. Evans, J. A. Lee-Thorp, J. Montgomery & M. Mussi 2008. Faunal migration in late-glacial central Italy: implications for human resource exploitation. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 22: 1714-1726.
  • Pellegrini, M., R. E. Donahue, J. A. Lee-Thorp, J. Evans, J. Montgomery, C. Chenery & M. Mussi 2008. L'Uso degli isotopi nella ricostruzione delle migrazioni delle faune nel Tardiglaciale: Implicazioni sulle strategie di sussistenza dei cacciatori-raccoglitori in Italia centrale. In M. Mussi (ed.) La Tardiglaciale: un tavola rotondo: 9-19. BAR International Series 1859. Oxford: Archaeopress.
  • Russ, H., R. Donahue & A. Jones 2008. Trout processing in the Upper Palaeolithic?. In S. Baker, M. Allen, S. Middle, C. Poole, N. Sykes and C. Newton (ed.) Food and Drink in Archaeology I, University of Nottingham Postgraduate Conference 2007: 167-169. Totnes: Prospect Books
  • Evans, A. A., Y. B. Wolframm, R. E. Donahue & W. A. Lovis 2007. A pilot study of "black chert" sourcing and implications for assessing hunter-gatherer mobility strategies in northern England. Journal of Archaeological Science 34: 2161-2169.
  • Gillmore, G. K., R. A. E. Coningham, R. Young, H. Fazeli, G. Rushworth, R. Donahue & C. M. Batt 2007. Holocene alluvial sediments of the Tehran Plain: Sedimentation and archaeological site visibility. In L. Wilson, P. Dickinson and J. Jeandron (ed.) Reconstructing Human-Landscape Interactions: 37-67. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars
  • Blockley, S. P. E., S. M. Blockley, R. E. Donahue, C. S. Lane, J. J. Lowe & A. M. Pollard 2006. The chronology of abrupt climate change and late Upper Palaeolithic human adaptation in Europe. Journal of Quaternary Sciences 21: 575-584.
  • Coningham, R. A. E., D. B. Burroni, R. E. Donahue & L. Ford 2006. The bead technology at Anuradhapura. In R. A. E. Coningham (ed.) Anuradhapura: The British Sri-Lankan Excavations at Anuradhapura Salgaha Watta 2: Vol II: 377-430. Oxford: Archaeopress
  • Coningham, R. A. E., H. Fazeli, R. L. Young, G. K. Gillmore, H. Karimian, M. Maghsoudi, R. E. Donahue & C. M. Batt 2006. Socio-economic transformations: Settlement survey in the Tehran Plain and excavations at Tepe Pardis. Iran 44: 33-62.
  • Donahue, R. E. & W. A. Lovis 2006. Regional Sampling and Site Evaluation Strategies for Predicting Mesolithic Settlement in the Yorkshire Dales, England. In E. Rensink and H. Peeters (ed.) Preserving the early past: Selection and preservation of Palaeolithic and Mesolithic sites and landscapes: 13-24. Amersfoort, NL: National Service for Archaeological Heritage
  • Donahue, R. E. & W. A. Lovis 2006. Regional settlement systems in Mesolithic northern England: Scalar issues in mobility and territoriality. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 25: 248-258.
  • Holderness, H., G. Davies, A. Chamberlain & R. Donahue 2006. Management report A conservation audit of archaeological cave resources in the Peak District and Yorkshire Dales. CAPRA 7
  • Holderness, H., G. Davies, A. Chamberlain & R. Donahue 2006. Protocol report A conservation audit of archaeological cave resources in the Peak District and Yorkshire Dales. CAPRA 7
  • Holderness, H., G. Davies, A. Chamberlain & R. Donahue 2006. Research report A conservation audit of archaeological cave resources in the Peak District and Yorkshire Dales. CAPRA 7
  • Holderness, H., G. Davies, A. T. Chamberlain & R. Donahue 2006. Research Report - A Conservation Audit of Archaeological Cave Resources in the Peak District and Yorkshire Dales. CAPRA 7: 1-114.
  • Holderness, H., G. Davies, A. T. Chamberlain & R. E. Donahue 2006. Protocol Report - A Conservation Audit of Archaeological Cave Resources in the Peak district and Yorkshire Dales. CAPRA 7: 1-16.
  • Holderness, H., G. Davies, A. T. Chamberlain & R. E. Donahue 2006. Management Report - A Conservation Audit of Archaeological Cave Resources in the Peak District and Yorkshire Dales. CAPRA 7: 1-35.
  • Lovis, W. A., R. Whallon & R. E. Donahue 2006. Social and spatial dimensions of Mesolithic mobility. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 25: 271-274.
  • Lovis, W. A., R. Whallon & R. E. Donahue 2006. Introduction to Mesolithic mobility, exchange and interaction: a special issue of the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 25: 175-177.
  • Evans, A. A. & R. E. Donahue 2005. The elemental chemistry of lithic microwear: an experiment. Journal of Archaeological Science 32: 1733-1740.
  • Lovis, W. A., R. E. Donahue & M. B. Holman 2005. Long distance logistic mobility as an organizing principle: The evolution of Great Lakes Middle Archaic settlement systems. American Antiquity 70: 668-692.
  • Blockley, S. P. E., J. J. Lowe, M. J. C. Walker, A. Asioli, F. Trincardi, A. M. Pollard, R. E. Donahue & G. R. Coope 2004. Analyses of radiocarbon dated sequences: some examples from the European Lateglacial. Journal of Quaternary Sciences 19: 159-175.
  • Coningham, R. A. E., H. Fazeli, R. L. Young & R. E. Donahue 2004. Location, Location, Location: A pilot survey of the Tehran plain in 2003. Iran 42: 1-12.
  • Donahue, R. E. 2004. Hunter-gatherer subsistence and settlement in northwest Europe. Antiquity 78: 188-191.
  • Donahue, R. E. & D. B. Burroni 2004. Lithic microwear analysis and the formation of archaeological assemblages. In E. A. Walker, F. Wenban-Smith and F. Healy (ed.) Lithics in Action: Papers for the Conference Lithic Studies in the Year 2000: 140-148. Oxford: Oxbow Books
  • Blockley, S. P. E., R. E. Donahue, A. M. Pollard & K. R. Ward 2003. Establishing Late-glacial and Holocene marine reservoir radiocarbon offsets in the northern North Atlantic: the potential for improving the chronology of Arctic archaeology. Physics in Canada 59: 263-268.
  • Boismier, W. A., D. C. Schreve, M. J. White, D. A. Robertson, A. J. Stuart, S. Etienne, J. Andrews, G. R. Coope, M. H. Field, F. M. L. Green, D. H. Keen, S. G. Lewis, C. French, E. Rhodes, J.-L. Schwenninger, K. Tovey, R. E. Donahue, M. P. Richards & S. O'Connor 2003. A Middle Palaeolithic site at Lynford Quarry, Mundford, Norfolk: Interim statement. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 69: 315-324.
  • Donahue, R. E. & W. A. Lovis 2003. Initial evaluation of Grahame Clark's model of Mesolithic transhumance in northern England: A perspective from the Pennine uplands. In L. Larsson, H. Kindgren, K. Knutsson, D. Loeffler and A. Akerlund (ed.) Mesolithic on the Move: Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on the Mesolithic in Europe, MESO 2000: 310-315. Oxford: Oxbow Books
  • Donahue, R. E., M. L. Murphy & L. H. Robbins 2002-2004. Lithic microwear analysis of Middle Stone Age artefacts from White Paintings Rock Shelter, Botswana. Journal of Field Archaeology 29: 155-163.
  • Burroni, D., R. E. Donahue, M. Mussi & A. M. Pollard 2002. The formation and history of stratified deposits as recorded on flint surfaces. Journal of Archaeological Science 29: 1277-1287.
  • Donahue, R. E. 2002. The lithic microwear analysis of the B&Q Mesolithic and Neolithic site. In J. Sidell, J. Cotton, L. Raynor and L. Wheeler (ed.) The Prehistory and Topography of Southwark and Lambeth: 81-88. London: Museum of London Archaeological Service
  • Fazeli, H., R. E. Donahue & R. A. E. Coningham 2002. Stone tool production, distribution and use during the late Neolithic and Chalcolithic on the Tehran plain, Iran. Iran 40: 1-14.
  • Pringle, J. K., A. R. Westerman, A. Schmidt, J. Harrison, D. Shandley, J. Beck, R. E. Donahue & A. Gardiner 2002. Investigating Peak Cavern, Castleton, Derbyshire, UK: integrating cave survey, geophysics, geology and archaeology to create a 3D digital CAD model. Cave and Karst Science 29: 67-74.
  • Blockley, S. P. E., R. E. Donahue & A. M. Pollard 2000. Radiocarbon calibration and Late Glacial occupation in North-West Europe. Antiquity 24: 112-121.
  • Blockley, S. P. E., R. E. Donahue & A. M. Pollard 2000. Rapid human response to Late Glacial warming in Britain: a reply to Housley et al. (2000). Antiquity 24: 427-428.
  • Donahue, R., A. Lovis, J. Dodds, A. Hancock, N. Sewpaul, T. Sparrow, C. Warren & I. White 2000. The Yorkshire Dales Hunter-Gatherer Research Project. Interim Report 1999. Bradford Archaeological Sciences Research 8. Bradford: University of Bradford.
  • Gamble, C. S., R. E. Donahue & A. M. Pollard. 2000. Environmental factors in the chronology of human evolution and dispersal (EFCHED).

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