Gordon Hillman

Gordon Hillman
Gordon Hillman

Gordon Hillman
Nationality British
Fields Archaeobotany
Institutions University College London

Professor Gordon Hillman B.Sc is Honorary Visiting Professor in Archaeobotany (Palaeoethnobotany) at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London (UCL).

He has become well known on UK television via his work with Ray Mears on the BBC programme 'Wild Food' broadcast in 2007. His trademark Chinstrap Beard makes him particularly recognisable. In conjunction with Mears he has written a book to accompany the series also called 'Wild Food' and published by Hodder & Stoughton. Fundamentally the series and resultant book looked at strategies for the gathering, processing and storage of wild plants that were likely to have been available in aboriginal, (hunter-gatherer) Britain.

In both Britain and overseas, Hillman has made contributions to prehistoric archaeology, particularly in the area of the domestication of cereals, and in particular rye.[1] His work in Turkey illuminated the ethnography of traditional cereal cultivation and grain processing, and this work, more than any other, has allowed the interpretation of ancient samples of charred grain (1981, 1984 below). Hillman has also published widely on the plant remains from Late Paleolithic Wadi Kubbaniya in Egypt (1989) and Tell Abu Hureyra in Syria (2000), where his work on environmental change and Mesolithic-Neolithic transition is frequently cited and where he is a co-author on numerous papers. He is known for his work the status of human domestication and cultivation of plants before the Neo-lithic agricultural revolution.

At UCL he held the post of Lecturer in Archaeobotany, then Reader, and is now Visiting Professor having retired early in 1997 on grounds of ill health. He suffers from Parkinson's disease.

Key publications

  • Hillman, G. C. (1978) On the origins of domestic rye - Secale cereale: the finds from aceramic Can Hasan III in Turkey. Anatolian Studies 28, 157-174.
  • Hillman, G. C. (1981) Reconstructing crop husbandry practices from charred remains of crops. In R. Mercer (ed.) Farming practice in British prehistory, 123-162. Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press.
  • Hillman, G. C. (1982) Evidence for spelting malt. In R. Leech (ed.) Excavations at Catsgore 1970-1973: a Romano-British village, 137-141. Bristol, Western Archaeological Trust, Excavation Monograph 2.
  • Hillman, G. C. (1984) Interpretation of archaeological plant remains: the application of ethnographic models from Turkey. In W. van Zeist and W. A. Casparie (ed.) Plants and ancient man. Studies in palaeoethnobotany, 1-41. Rotterdam, A.A. Balkema.
  • Hillman, G. C. (1984) Traditional husbandry and processing of archaic cereals in modern times. Part I, the glume-wheats. Bulletin on Sumerian Agriculture 1, 114-152.
  • Hillman, G. C. (1985) Traditional husbandry and processing of archaic cereals in modern times. Part II, the free-threshing cereals. Bulletin on Sumerian Agriculture 2, 1-31.
  • Hillman, G. C. (1986) Plant foods in ancient diet: the archaeological role of palaeofaeces in general and Lindow Man's gut contents in particular. In I. M. Stead, J. B. Bourke and D. Brothwell (ed.) Lindow Man: the body in the bog, 99-115, 198-202. London, British Museum.
  • Davies, M. S. and Hillman, G. C. (1988) Effects of soil flooding on growth and grain yield of populations of tetraploid and hexaploid species of wheat. Annals of Botany 62, 597-604.
  • Harris, D. R. and Hillman, G. C. (1989) Foraging and farming: The evolution of plant exploitation. London, Unwin Hyman, One World Archaeology 13.
  • Hillman, G. C., Madeyska, E. and Hather, J. (1989) Wild plant foods and diet at Late Paleolithic Wadi Kubbaniya: the evidence from charred remains. In F. Wendorf, R. Schild and A. E. Close (ed.) The prehistory of Wadi Kubbaniya. Volume 2. Stratigraphy, paleoeconomy, and environment, 162-242. Dallas, TX, Southern Methodist University Press.
  • Hillman, G. C. and Davies, M. S. (1990) Measured domestication rates in wild wheats and barley under primitive cultivation, and their archaeological implications. Journal of World Prehistory 4, 157-222.
  • Hillman, G. C. (1996) Late Pleistocene changes in wild plant-foods available to hunter-gatherers of the northern Fertile Crescent: possible preludes to cereal cultivation. In D. R. Harris (ed.) The origins and spread of agriculture and pastoralism in Eurasia, 159-203. London, UCL Press.
  • Moore, A. M. T., Hillman, G. C. and Legge, A. J. (2000) Village on the Euphrates: from foraging to farming at Abu Hureyra. New York, Oxford University Press.
  • Hillman, G. C., Hedges, R., Moore, A., Colledge, S. and Pettitt, P. (2001) New evidence of Lateglacial cereal cultivation at Abu Hureyra on the Euphrates. The Holocene 11, 383-393.
  • Mason, S. L. R., Hather, J. G. and Hillman, G. C. (2002) The archaeobotany of European hunter-gatherers: some preliminary investigations. In S. L. R. Mason and J. G. Hather (ed.) Hunter-gatherer archaeobotany, 188-196. London, Institute of Archaeology, University College London.
  • Hillman, G. C. (2003) Investigating the start of cultivation in western Eurasia: studies of plant remains from Abu Hureyra on the Euphrates. In A. J. Ammerman and P. Biagi (ed.) The widening harvest: the Neolithic transition in Europe: looking back, looking forward, 75-97. Boston, MA, Archaeological Institute of America.
  • Fairbairn, A., Martinoli, D., Butler, A. and Hillman, G. C. (2006) Wild plant seed storage at Neolithic Çatalhöyük East, Turkey. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 16, 467-479.
  • Mears, R. and Hillman, G. C. (2007) Wild food. London, Hodder & Stoughton.


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