Dr Robert Leighton (MA, PhD)

Senior Lecturer


Following my first degree (MA) in Archaeology, I obtained a PhD in Archaeology from the University of Edinburgh (1983) and spent the next ten years in Italy, supported by an M.A. Cotton Fellowship (1984-85) and a Leverhulme study abroad studentship (1985-87) in Rome, followed by teaching contracts in Rome (1988-90) and Venice (1989-92), freelance work and periods of fieldwork in Sicily. I joined the staff at Edinburgh in 2002.

Undergraduate teaching

  • Archaeology 1B [ARCA08005] (Convenor)
  • Archaeology 2B: Archaeology in Action [ARCA08012] (Contributor)
  • Theoretical Archaeology [ARCA10064)] (Contributor)
  • Etruscan Italy, 1000-300 BC [ARCA10023] (Convenor)
  • Island Worlds: colonisation, contact, insularity and identity in the Mediterranean region from the Palaeolithic to the Iron Age [ARCA10061], (Convenor)  

Postgraduate teaching

  • Frontiers in Archaeology: Research Seminars [PGHC11001] (Convenor)
  • Research Sources and Strategies in Archaeology [P00171] (Convenor)
  • Etruscan Italy [PGHC00140] (Convenor)
  • Island Worlds [PGHC02516] (Convenor)  

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Current PhD students supervised

Name - Degree - Thesis topic - Supervision type

  • Núñez-García, Alicia - PhD - Connecting Worlds: The Early Stages of Phoenician Presence on the Atlantic Coastline (11th‐8th centuries BC) - Secondary
  • Edgson, Geoffrey - PhD -       - Secondary

Past PhD students supervised

Name - Degree - Thesis topic - Supervision type - Completion Year - Link

  • MacColl, Fiona - MScR -      - Second- 2021 -
  • Cory-Lopez, Elizabeth - MPhil - The Chaîne Opératoire for Picrolite Carving in Cyprus during the 4th and 3rd Millennia B.C.E. - Primary - 2018 -
  • Mason, Owain - PhD - Ceramics and regionality in the Highlands and Northern Isles of Scotland, 2500-1800 BC - Primary - 2018 -
  • Lorenzon, Marta - PhD - Earthen Architecture in Bronze Age Crete: from raw materials to construction - Primary - 2017 - link
  • Ritchie, Graham - PhD - Changing Coastal Landscapes of Sicily: the impact of sea-level change, natural catastrophe and geomorphological modification of the Sicilian coastline on the visibility of archaeological evidence for human occupation - Primary - 2016 -
  • Heise, Marc - PhD - Heads North or East? A Reexamination of Beaker Burials in Britain - Primary - 2016 -
  • Miller, Paul - PhD - Continuity and change in Etruscan domestic architecture from 800 to 500 BC: a study of building techniques and materials - Primary - 2015 - link
  • Whalen, Jessica - PhD - Drinking and feasting in central and western Anatolia during the Early Bronze Age II-III Periods (2650-2000 BC) - Secondary - 2014 -
  • Brown, Lisa - PhD - Charon's obol? The role of coins in Roman burial ritual (with case studies from Italy, Germany, Britain and Scandinavia) - Joint - 2013
  • Kennan, Lisa - MScR - Cypriot ceramics from the Byzantine Dark Age: a rural perspective on continuity and prosperity in late antiquity - Secondary - 2012 -
  • Brown, Michael - PhD - Landscapes of settlement in south-east Cyprus: the Late Bronze Age origins of a Phoenician polity - Secondary - 2012 -
  • Reibman, Abigail - MScR - Food and identity in the 'Roman villa' - Secondary - 2011 -
  • Geissler, Sabine - MPhil - The social significance of communal dining in Etruscan Italy, 7th – 4th century BC: an iconographical approach - Primary - 2011 -
  • Guagnin, Maria - PhD - From savanna to desert: animal engravings in the changing prehistoric environment of the Wadi al-Hayat, Libyan Sahara - Primary - 2010 -
  • Hammond, S.MScRThe iconography of Etruscan religious specialists: origins, development and cross-cultural referencesPrimary2009
  • Ritchie, Graham - MScR - The characterisation of obsidian and its contribution to the study of Neolithic exchange in the western Mediterranean and the Aegean: a critical review - Primary - 2008 -
  • Brown, Lisa - MScR - Iron Age Apulia 1000 - 500 BC: ethnic identity and a pottery case study from San Felice - Primary - 2007 -
  • Moussa, Fares - MScR - Research traditions and controversies in the study of Punic infant cemeteries - Primary - 2007 -
  • McIlfatrick, Orlene - PhD - The Iron Age pottery of Caithness: a social and economic study - Secondary -      -     

Research summary


  • Mediterranean


  • Landscapes & Monuments


  • Prehistory
  • Early Historic
  • Antiquity

Research interests

  • Later Mediterranean prehistory, especially Italy, Sicily and other islands;
  • interaction, state formation and early civilisations in this area (Etruscan, Phoenician, Greek);
  • history of the discipline;
  • prehistoric trade;
  • monuments and landscapes.

Project activity

Current research activities

  • Archaeology of houses;
  • rock-cut tombs and landscape archaeology;
  • trade in stone axes

Research projects

  • Pantalica
  • Morgantina excavations
  • Trade in stone axes in southern Italy and Sicily


Pantalica in the Sicilian Late Bronze and Iron Ages. Excavations of the rock-cut chamber tombs by Paolo Orsi from 1895 to 1910. Oxbow, Oxford and Philadelphia (2019).

Prehistoric Houses at Morgantina. Excavations on the Cittadella of   Morgantina in Sicily, 1989-2004. Accordia Research Institute, University   of London, London (2012).

Tarquinia, an Etruscan City. Duckworth/Bloomsbury, London (2004)

Sicily before History: An Archaeological Survey from the Palaeolithic to   the Iron Age. Duckworth/Bloomsbury, London; & Cornell  University Press, Ithaca, New York (1999)

The Protohistoric Settlement on the Cittadella.  Morgantina Studies Volume 4. Princeton University Press, Princeton (1993)


Edited Book

 Early Societies in Sicily. New Developments in Archaeological   Research. Accordia Specialist Studies on Italy. Vol 5. Accordia   Research Centre, University of London, London (1996).


Articles and book contributions

Leighton, R. 2022. Nuraghi as ritual monuments in the Sardinian Bronze and Iron Ages (circa 1700-700 BC). Open Archaeology, 8: 229-255.

Leighton, R. 2020. Syracuse and its environs from c. 6000 to 650 BC: the prehistoric and Greek origins of the city. Journal of Greek Archaeology, 5: 196-221. 

Leighton, R. 2020. Rock-cut chamber tombs and the reproduction of locality in later Sicilian prehistory. Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 30.2: 295-311.

Leighton, R. 2019. Pantalica: recenti ricerche sulla topografia e cronologia delle tombe e delle abitazioni rupestri, in M. Blancato, P. Militello, D. Palermo & R. Panvini (eds), Pantalica e la Sicilia nelle età di Pantalica, Atti del Convegno di Sortino 15-16 dicembre 2017: 45-71. Padova: Bottega d'Erasmo.

Leighton, R. 2019. Sicily. In Lemos, I. and Kotsonas, A. (eds) A Companion to the Archaeology of Early Greece and the Mediterranean, Vol. 2: 1237-1259. Wiley-Blackwell. 

Leighton, R. 2016. Cassibile revisited: rock-cut monuments and the configuration of Late Bronze Age and Iron Age sites in southeast Sicily. Praehistorische Zeitschrift, 91(1): 124-148.

Leighton, R. 2015. Rock-cut tombs and funerary landscapes of the Late Bronze and Iron Ages in Sicily: new fieldwork at Pantalica. Journal of Field Archaeology, 40(2): 189-202.

Leighton, R. 2013. Urbanization in southern Etruria from the tenth to the sixth century BC: the origins and growth of major centers. In Turfa, J.M. (ed), The Etruscan World: 134-50. London and New York: Routledge

Leighton, R. 2011. La casa 16W del Bronzo Finale sulla Cittadella di Morgantina (Sicilia): aspetti strutturali, zone di attività e ‘status’ sociale. Rivista di Scienze Preistoriche, 61: 197-214.

Leighton, R. 2011. Pantalica (Sicily) from the Late Bronze Age to the Middle Ages: a new survey and interpretation of the rock-cut monuments. American Journal of Archaeology, 115: 447-464.

Dixon, J., Leighton, R., Malone, C. & Trump, D. 2010. Chapter 10: Material Culture: Ground and polished stone. In Malone, C., Stoddart, S. & Trump, D. (eds), Mortuary Customs in Prehistoric Malta: Excavations at the Brochtorff Circle at Xaghra, Gozo (1987-1994): 253-260. Cambridge, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.

Leighton, R. 2009. Tarquinia. In Gagarin, M. (ed), The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome, Vol.6: 427-9. New York and Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Leighton, R. 2006. Poetry and perception in the discovery of ancient Etruria. In Herring, E., Lemos, I., Lo Schiavo, F., Vagnetti, L., Whitehouse, R. and Wilkins, J. (eds), Across Frontiers. Etruscans, Greeks, Phoenicians and Cypriots. Studies in honour of David Ridgway and F.R. Serra Ridgway. Accordia Specialist Studies on the Mediterranean, Vol.6: 437-449. London, Accordia Research Institute, University of London.

Leighton, R. 2005. Later prehistoric settlement patterns in Sicily: old paradigms and new surveys. European Journal of Archaeology, 8.3: 261-287.

Leighton, R. 2005. House urns and Etruscan tomb painting: tradition versus innovation in the ninth-seventh centuries BC. Oxford Journal of Archaeology, 24.4: 363-380.

Leighton, R. 2004. Fortress Ustica? An island world in the Bronze Age. American Journal of Archaeology, 108: 321-324.

Leighton, R. 2000. Indigenous society between the 9th and 6th centuries BC: territorial, urban and social evolution. In Smith, C.J. & Serrati, J. (eds), Sicily from Aeneas to Augustus. New approaches in archaeology and history: 15-40. Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press.

Leighton, R. 2000. Time versus Tradition: Iron Age Chronologies in Sicily and Southern Italy. In Ridgway, D., Serra Ridgway, F.R., Pearce, M., Herring, E., Whitehouse, R.D. & Wilkins, J.B. (eds), Ancient Italy in its Mediterranean Setting. Studies in Honour of Ellen Macnamara. Accordia Specialist Studies on the Mediterranean, Vol.4: 33-48. London, Accordia Research Centre, University of London.

Leighton, R. 1998. Reflections on San Teodoro 1-7 and recent sex changes in the Upper Palaeolithic. In Whitehouse, R.D. (ed) Gender and Italian Archaeology. Challenging the Stereotypes. Accordia Specialist Studies on Italy Vol.7: 45-55. London, Accordia, University of London.

Leighton, R. 1996. Research traditions, chronology and current issues: an introduction. In Leighton, R. (ed) Early Societies in Sicily: New Developments in Archaeological Research, Accordia Specialist Studies on Italy, Vol. 5. London, Accordia Research Centre, University of London.

Leighton, R. 1996. From chiefdom to tribe? Social organisation and change in later prehistory. In Leighton, R. (ed) Early Societies in Sicily: New Developments in Archaeological Research. Accordia Specialist Studies on Italy, Vol. 5: 101-117. London, Accordia Research Centre, University of London.

Brown, C., Dixon, J.E. & Leighton, R. 1995. Stone axes and stone axe pendants. In Malone, C. et al., Mortuary Ritual of 4th Millennium BC Malta: the Zebbug Period Chambered Tomb from the Brochtorff Circle at Xaghra (Gozo). Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 61: 303-345.

Leighton, R. 1993. Sicily during the Centuries of Darkness. Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 3: 271-276.

Leighton, R & Dixon, J.E. 1992. Jade and greenstone in the prehistory of Sicily and Southern Italy. Oxford Journal of Archaeology, 11.2: 179-200.

Leighton, R. 1992. Stone axes and exchange in South Italian prehistory: new evidence from old collections. Accordia Research Papers, 3: 1-28.

Leighton, R. & Dixon, J.E. 1992. Alcune considerazioni sulle asce levigate in Italia Meridionale ed in Sicilia. In E. Herring, R. Whitehouse & J. Wilkins (ed) Papers of the Fourth Conference of Italian Archaeology, 3. New Developments in Italian Archaeology: 19-28. London, Accordia Research Centre, University of London.

Leighton, R. & Castelino, C. 1990. Thomas Dempster and ancient Etruria: A review of the autobiography and De Etruria Regali. Papers of the British School at Rome, 58: 337-352.

Leighton, R. 1989. Antiquarianism and prehistory in West Mediterranean islands. The Antiquaries Journal, 69 (ii): 183-204.

Leighton, R. 1989. Ground stone tools from Serra Orlando (Morgantina) and stone axe studies in Sicily and Southern Italy. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 55: 135-159.

Leighton, R. 1986. Paolo Orsi (1859-1935) and the prehistory of Sicily. Antiquity, 60: 15-20.

Leighton, R. 1985. Evidence, extent and effects of Mycenaean contacts with Southeast Sicily during the Late Bronze Age. In Malone, C. and Stoddart, S. (eds), Papers in Italian Archaeology IV. Part iii, Patterns in Protohistory, B.A.R. International Series 245: 399-412. Oxford.

Leighton, R. 1984. Mycenaean pottery at Morgantina. American Journal of Archaeology, 88: 389-391.

Leighton, R. 1981. Strainer-spouted jugs and the problem of the earliest Phoenician influence in Sicily. Journal of Mediterranean Anthropology and Archaeology, 1: 280-291.