Roz Gillis

Role in the project


  • Determining herd structures and slaughter profiles for cattle and sheep/goats;
  • Determining bulk δ13C, δ15N and δ18O values of domesticated animal teeth to define weaning ages and seasonal herd management strategies;
  • Examining the sources of variation in animal husbandry and exploitation strategies for the integration with cultural information for the LBK.


PhD (2008-2012)

Marie Curie Research fellow, Archéozoologie, Archéobotanique: Sociétés, pratiques et environnements (USM 303-UMR 7209), Département de Ecologie, CNRS-Muséum Nationale d’histoire Naturelle, France(under the supervision of Dr. Jean-Denis Vigne, Anne Tresset and Marie Balasse).

  • PhD dissertation: Osteological and Isotopic contributions to the study of dairy husbandry during the European Neolithic.

The objective of the thesis was to contribute to the study of dairy husbandry at the beginning of the Neolithic from an archaeozoological perspective. This work revised the reference for dairy husbandry used in archaeozoology for the identification of dairy husbandry. The methodologies for determining caprines species (sheep and goats) and estimating accurate age at death for cattle were assessed and reviewed. These were then used to study three large sites in the NW Mediterranean (Trasano, Italy, Font Juvénal, France; la Draga, Spain) and to establish a strong base for the stable isotopes case study, the late 5th millennium BC site of Popină Borduşani, Romania. These sites were used as references within the correspondence analysis of age at death data from 152 European Neolithic sites. This analysis has indicated that mixed (milk and meat) subsistence practices existed from the Early Neolithic. During the later periods of the Neolithic, specialised practices were developed for specific milk production.

This research was funded by the 7th EU framework Marie Curie Initial Training Networks (FP7-ITN-215362-2) and part of the LeCHE project (Lactase persistence and the Early Cultural History of Europe). The stable isotope analyses were also funded by the SIANHE project (ERC starting grant to Marie Balasse, GA 202881).

MSc Biomolecular Archaeology (2002-2003)

Department of Archaeology, University of Sheffield, UK (under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Chamberlain).

  • MSc dissertation: A study of the development of lactose tolerance, as an example of nutritional genetic adaptation to domesticated animal products in the Old World populations, through the analysis of archaeological and biomolecular evidence.

The research examined previous lactose tolerance studies, biomolecular analysis, anthropogenic and archaeological evidence, with reference to the geographical distribution of lactose tolerance in the Old World. The results of this synthesis were that environmental and cultural/economic determinants had an important effect on the development of dairying culture and consequently the lactase persistence.

Modules included: Genetics, Biomolecular Archaeology and Practical zooarchaeology.

BSc Environmental Archaeology (1997-2001)

University of Edinburgh.

  • BSc dissertation: Spatial analysis of an Iron Age roundhouse floor, using a suite of complementary Environmental archaeology techniques

Modules included: Holocene Landscape Dynamics, Computer Literacy, Chemistry and Maths.

Other projects

06/01/2013 – 30/05/2013 – Faunal processor for INRAP, Paris, France

This post involved the organisation and study of archaeozoological material, and production of summary tables of taxon, demographic information and preservation state of skeletal elements from the multi-period site of Les Queryriaux, France.

30/05/2004 – 01/10/2008 – Archaeological Project Officer, Headland Archaeology Ltd., Edinburgh, UK

This post involved organising and running excavations of sites from different chronological periods. Building upon her experience as an environmental archaeologist, she was also consulted during post-excavation aspects.


Roffet-Salque, M., Gerbault, P. and Gillis, R. E. (2017). Une histoire de l’exploitation laitière : approches génétique, archéozoologique et biomoléculaire. Regards croisés: quand les sciences archéologiques rencontrent l’innovation. M. Balasse and P. Dillmann, Editions des archives contemporaines: 1-23.

Debono Spiteri, C.*, Gillis, R. E.*, Roffet-Salque, M.*, Castells Navarro, L., Guilaine, J., Muntoni, I. M., Saña Segui, M., Urem-Kotsou, D., Whelton, H. L., Craig, O. E., Vigne, J. D. and Evershed, R. P., 2016, Regional asynchronicity in dairy production and processing in early farming communities of the northern Mediterranean. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Gerbault P., Gillis R., Vigne J.-D., Tresset A., Bréhard S., Thomas M.G., 2016, Statistically robust representation and comparison of mortality profiles in archaeozoology. Journal of Archaeological Science 71:24-32.

Balasse, M., Balasescu, A., Tornero, C., Frémondeau, D., Hovsepyan, R., Gillis, R. and Popovici, D. (In press). Investigating the scale of herding in Chalcolithic pastoral communities settled by the Danube river in the 5th millennium BC: a case study at Borduşani-Popină and Hârşova-tell (Romania). Quaternary International.

Gillis R., (In press) A calf’s eye view of milk production: Tony Legge’s contribution to dairy husbandry studies. In P. Rowely-Conwy, P. Halstead and D. Serjeantson (Eds.) Papers in honour of Tony Legge. Oxford: Oxbow books.

Gillis R., Carrère I, Saña Seguí M, Radi G and Vigne J.-D. (2016) Neonatal mortality, young calf slaughter and milk production during the Early Neolithic of North Western Mediterranean. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 26(2): 303-313.

Gillis R., Arbogast, R.-M., Piningre J.-F., Debue K., and Vigne, J.-D. 2013. Prediction models for age-at-death estimates for calves, using un-fused epiphyses and diaphyses. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 25(6): 912-922.

Gillis, R., Bréhard S., Balasescu A., Vigne J.-D., Popovici D. & Balasse, M. 2013. Sophisticated cattle dairy husbandry at Borduşani-Popină (Romania, 5th mill BC): the evidence from complementary analysis of mortality profiles and stable isotopes. World Archaeology DOI: 10.1080/00438243.2013.820652

Bartosiewicz, L., Gillis, R., Girdland-Flink, L., Evin, A., Cucchi, T., Hoelzel, R., Vidarsdottir, U., Dobney, K., Larson, G. & Schoop, U-D. 2013 Chalcolithic pig remains from Çamlıbel Tarlası, Central Anatolia. Archaeozoology of the Near East X. Proceedings of the Tenth International Symposium on the Archaeozoology of South-Western Asia and adjacent areas.De Cupere, B., Linseele, V. & Hamilton-Dyer, S. (Eds.). Leuven: Peeters, Leuven, p. 101–12020 p

Gillis, R. 2012. Beyond the Pail Archaeozoological research into understanding prehistoric milking practises. In Doorn et al. (Eds.) May contain traces of milk- Investigating the role of dairy farming and milk consumption in the European Neolithic. York, University of York:

Gillis, R., Chaix L. and Vigne J.-D. 2011. An assessment of morphological criteria for discriminating sheep and goat mandibles on a large prehistoric archaeological assemblage (Kerma, Sudan). Journal of Archaeological Science 38:2324-2339.


* Contributed equally to this work.