Institute of Archaeology


Prof Bill Sillar

Professor of Archaeology and Technology in Society

Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square

Institute of Archaeology

Joined UCL
1st Sep 2000

Research summary

My research has focused on the social context of technology. Most of my fieldwork has been located in the Andean highlands of Peru and Bolivia, where I combine ethnographic and archaeological work with artefact analysis to gain a better understanding of indigenous society before, during and after the Inca Empire.  I also use analysis of artefacts and experimental research to evaluate changes in technology and organisation of production.

Five themes of this research have been:

1)     The development of theoretical and methodological approaches to investigate the cultural context of technology. This has included a focus on the sequence of techniques used in production (the chaîne opératoire) and investigating what influences the ‘technological choice’ of distinct materials, tools and techniques within specific social settings. 

2)     Archaeological and anthropological implications of Andean animistic approaches to the landscape and material world.

3)     Investigating pottery production, trade and use in relation to the social and economic context of the producers and consumers

4)     Research at Raqchi, Cuzco, Peru investigating the long-term occupation; characterising the construction and function of the Inka site; and identifying a major Wari installation of a ‘work camp’.

5)      Research on Inka building practices in Cuzco and the surrounding region to identified changes in the use of labour and resources during the emergence of the Inka State.

Teaching summary

I currently teach the following modules:


     Interpreting Pottery (ARCL0100)


      Sites and Artefacts (ARCL0012)

2000-2008    MA Artefact Studies Coordinator

2005 -           Archaeo-Tech Co-coordinator

2008-2014    Admissions Tutor

2010-2018    BA Archaeology with a Year Abroad Coordinator

2013-2015    Careers Tutor

2016-2020    Chair of Teaching Committee

2017-            BA Archaeology with a Year’s Placement Coordinator

2020 -           UCL Education Committee -  Elected member

2020 -           1st year Tutor


University of Cambridge
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1995
University of London
Other higher degree, Master of Science | 1988
University of London
First Degree, Bachelor of Science | 1985


Bill has a BSc (1982-1985) and MSc (1986-1988) from the Institute of Archaeology (then an independent Institute of the University of London) and a PhD (1989-1994) from the University of Cambridge.  He taught at the University of Wales, Lampeter (1995-1998) before returning to the Institute of Archaeology (by then part of UCL) with a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (1998-2000) and was appointed a Lecturer in 2000, Senior Lecturer in2010, and as Professor or Archaeology and Technology in Society in 2021.

Bill enjoys teaching with a strong emphasis on object handling and analysis. He was given the Provost’s Teaching Award in 2011 Student Choice nominations for Exceptional Feedback, Inspiring Teaching Delivery and Active Student Partnership, and a Faculty Education Award (2020).  With Dr Matt Pope he developed the IoA partnership with Butser Ancient Farm as an open-air laboratory for our teaching and research into ancient technology, early agriculture and heritage, where we moved our Experimental Archaeology Course ‘Archaeo-Tech’ in 2019.