Simon Davis - Biography


Simon was born in 1950 in London, where he graduated in Zoology at the University College in 1971. For his postgraduate studies he moved to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where he completed his Masters in 1973 and his PhD thesis on The Large Mammals of the Upper Pleistocene of Israel in 1979.

He has contributed to teaching in several universities around the world, such as the Hebrew University, the University College London, Reading University (UK), the University of Lecce (Italy), the University of Lisbon and the University of Algarve.

He has also created, or substantially contributed to the development of several zooarchaeology laboratories (Jerusalem, 1971-1979; English Heritage, London, 1988-1999; IPA =LARC-DGPC, Lisbon, 2000 to present).

He has worked in England, Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Iran and Portugal dealing with a vast number of research questions. Simon has participated in several research projects and, recently, he collaborates in ancient DNA studies of domestic animals to investigate their origins and modes of improvement.


 His main zooarchaeological interests include:


the use of mammal bones for the reconstruction of  palaeo-environments

the domestication of animals

the improvement of livestock

the use of animals in ritual contexts

the development of osteometric methods for the distinction of closely related mammals.



Main publications:


1980 Late Pleistocene and Holocene equid remains from Israel.  Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 70, 289‑312


1981 The effects of temperature change and domestication on the body size of Late Pleistocene to Holocene mammals of Israel. Paleobiology 7, 101‑114


1982 Climatic change and the advent of domestication: the succession of ruminant artiodactyls in the late Pleistocene‑Holocene in the Israel region. Paléorient 8, 5‑15


1983 Morphometric variation of populations of House mice (Mus domesticus) in Britain and Faroe. Journal of Zoology, London 199, 521‑534


1984 The advent of milk and wool production in western Iran: some speculations. In: Grigson, C. and Clutton‑Brock, J. (eds) Animals and Archaeology. pp. 265‑278. Oxford, British Archaeological Reports, International series 202


1987 The Archaeology of animals. London, Batsford (and New Haven, Yale University)


1989 Why did prehistoric people domesticate food animals? In: Bar Yosef, O. and Vandermeersch, B. (eds.), Investigations in south Levantine prehistory. pp. 43‑59. Oxford, BAR International Series 497


1993 (with Sebastian Payne) A barrowful of cattle skulls. Antiquity 67, 12-22


1996 (with Umberto Albarella) Mammals and birds from Launceston Castle, Cornwall: decline in status and the rise of agriculture. Circaea 12, 1-156


1999 (with John Beckett) Animal husbandry and agricultural improvement: the archaeological evidence from animal bones and teeth. Rural History 10, 1-17


2000 The effect of castration and age on the development of the Shetland sheep skeleton and a metric comparison between bones of males, females and castrates Journal of Archaeological Science 27, 373-390


2002 The mammals and birds from the Gruta do Caldeirão, Portugal. Revista Portuguesa de Arqueologia 5, 29-98


2005 Why domesticate food animals? Some zoo-archaeological evidence from the Levant. Journal of Archaeological Science 32, 1408-1416


2008 Zooarchaeological evidence for Moslem and Christian improvements of sheep and cattle in Portugal. Journal of Archaeological Science 35 (4), 991-1010


2012 (with Emma Svensson, Umberto Albarella, Cleia Detry, Anders Götherström, Elisabete Pires and Catarina Ginja) Molecular and osteometric sexing of cattle metacarpals: a case study from 15th century AD Beja, Portugal. Journal of Archaeological Science. London. 39 (5), 1445-1454.