Online – Stonehenge

Introduction to the Stonehenge online course by Dr John Hill. 

Stonehenge is, no doubt, one of our most important prehistoric sites in the United Kingdom. It is also one of the most complex of monuments to understand. Even today, we still find new archaeological data that demands us to continuously challenge our opinions about this difficult but incredible site.

The University of Liverpool’s accredited Stonehenge online course will give you a great introduction to this fascinating site and an appreciation of what we currently know about it. Over the next several weeks we will cover a number of themes related to what we know about Stonehenge and the following is just a highlight of some (but not all) of these themes.

Week one – Setting the scene – from the Ice Age to the Early Bronze Age

In this part of the course, you will receive a brief overview of the chronological development of British Prehistory i.e. starting at the end of the last Ice Age and ending with the coming of the Early Bronze Age (c.10,000 – 1800 BC). Certainly, this will help you to put Stonehenge into its proper historical chronological context in reference to the rest of British Prehistory.

Another theme we followed during the creation of this online course was to give you a sense of visiting Stonehenge and seeing the key architectural features of the site. This first week will offer you an online ‘Virtual Tour’ of Stonehenge giving you a foundational knowledge to build upon during the weeks that follow.

Week two – The meaning of Stonehenge

There are many theories about what Stonehenge means. Some are incredibly far flung that don’t involve much evidence whilst others emerge from a body of data built up by rigorous research and academic scrutiny. In this part of the online course we will look at some of those credible theories that will help you to understand more about this fascinating site.

Week three – How and when was Stonehenge built?

Construction techniques are often a popular topic to mention when talking about Stonehenge. Indeed, this particular topic forms the thrust of my own research. In this part of the course we will look at some of the construction techniques used as Stonehenge and I will share with you some of my own ideas about how the builders could have accomplished such magnificent engineering.

Week four – Who lived at Stonehenge?

Who lived at Stonehenge is the culminating topic for this course. Although nobody actually lived at Stonehenge, much funerary activity has taken place both inside the monument and within its surrounding landscape. These burials can tell us a lot of information about the people who lived during the times when Stonehenge was most active and we will consider, perhaps, three of the most important burials found at the site.


Additionally, within this module, we will look at the importance of excavation and in a short video accompanying this theme I will explain just how much of the Stonehenge site has been excavated. This topic is important as it formulates the 1000 word essay assignment required for the course’s accreditation: “Stonehenge, to excavate or not to excavate – that is the question?”

I personally believe that we should excavate more, but I won’t give my opinions just now. Rather we can discuss not only my reasons but also your ideas using our open-forum discussion board. The discussion board will also allow you to share your ideas with your fellow students. Incidentally, our online course software also offers many other inter-active features for you to take advantage of, such as access to the University of Liverpool’s Electronic library.

Both I and the online support team will also be available online to offer help and guidance through the duration of the course and (hopefully?) answer any questions you may wish to ask.

I look forward to leading you through this exciting course.

Best wishes

Dr John Hill

To enrol on this course please click here

The 6th Annual Archaeology and the Bible Conference

The 6th Annual Archaeology and the Bible Conference,

Saturday 25th March, 2017

Archaeology and the Bible’s first five books

The Lecture Theatre, Department of Continuing Education, 126 Mount Pleasant, L69 3GR

The Bible’s first five books, sometimes called the Torah or Pentateuch, tell the story of Israel’s origins and its place in the wider Ancient World. But can this story be illuminated, even authenticated by the archaeological evidence?

10.00 – 10.30 Dr. Paul Lawrence (University of Liverpool): In the beginning … in a coffin in Egypt – some observations about the structure of the Book of Genesis

In the beginning …”, so begins the Bible’s first book. It is an apt title for a book that outlines the Hebrew worldview of the origins of the universe, mankind, sin and death, the nations and the nation of Israel. Does the book of Genesis have a clearly evident structure and does this give clues to the book’s composition or compilation? What evidence is there for it accurately representing events of the early Second Millennium BC?

10.30 – 11.00 Dr. James Patrick (University of Oxford): Interpreting the Creation Week in its Ancient Context

The creation of the world over a seven-day period in Genesis 1:1–2:4 has been interpreted in many different ways, particularly since the time of Darwin.  But how was this precise timing interpreted by its first hearers?  This lecture will consider evidence from ancient Israelite culture and the wider ancient Near Eastern context, in order to come closer to the original intention of this passage and its theological message.

11.00-11.30 break

11.30-12.30 Dr. James Hoffmeier (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School):Moses and Akhenaten

Akhenaten (1353-1336 B.C.) is thought by many scholars to be the first monotheist in history.  Moses is believed to have lived in the following century, which naturally has raised the question, did Akhenaten’s religious revolution surrounding the solar deity, Aten, have any influence on the development of Israel’s religion? This lecture will examine the evidence for Akhenaten’s religion and its unique elements, followed by the an investigation of the possible connection between Moses and Akhenaten.

12.30-13.30 lunch

13.30-14.30  Dr. James Hoffmeier: Israel’s Earliest Sanctuary, Priestly Garments and Bejewelled Breastplate in the Book of Exodus in the Light of Archaeological Data

One of the most compelling arguments for the historicity of the Hebrew sojourn in Egypt is the imprint that Egyptian language, culture, and religion left on early Israel. This lecture will examine some this evidence as it relates to Israelite religion that demonstrates strong Egyptian connections that most likely can be traced to the centuries the Hebrews lived in Egypt before the exodus.

14.30-15.00 break

15.00 -15.30 Alistair Dickey (Ph.D candidate University of Liverpool): Semites in Ancient Egypt “So Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt, taking with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan.”

This account in Genesis 46 describes Jacob and his family moving house to Egypt.  However, is such an account plausible?  What do we know of Semites in Egypt during the Second Millennium BC?  This presentation will explore some of the archaeological and textual evidence from the Delta in the north to Thebes in the south that sheds light on the situation.

15.30-16.15 Emeritus Professor Alan Millard (University of Liverpool): Babylonian and Hebrew Law 

Similarities and differencesGod gave the ‘Laws of Moses’ to Israel at Mount Sinai, according to the Book of Exodus, with the Ten Commandments, at least, written on stone tablets. Israel’s laws are not unique. Babylonian laws have been discovered and some of them are very similar to some of the Mosaic laws, but there are also major differences. The lecture will compare those, showing how the Hebrew laws are distinctive.

16.15-16.30 Questions to the speakers and closing remarks

Advance registration £27 includes a sandwich lunch. If you would like to book on this event you can do so by clicking here 

5th Annual Archaeology and the Bible Day conference:Persia and the Bible

5th Annual Archaeology and the Bible Day Conference

Theme: Persia and the Bible

Saturday 14th May 2016, 10am – 4.30pm

Persia and the Bible

For many centuries the Bible – both Old and New Testaments – has been subject to rigorous academic scrutiny. While some have defended the Bible by resorting to simplistic or wild, unustainable claims, others have dismissed it without reference to the cultures and literature that were contemporary with it. The tradition of the Archaeology department of the University of Liverpool over many decades, as exemplified by Dr. William Martin and Professors Kenneth Kitchen and Alan Millard, is upheld by this successful annual conference. The Bible is examined critically within its contemporary context, but theoretical and unprovable assumptions as to its origins are not given weight. This year sees the fifth such annual conference. Having considered Treaty, Law and Covenant, Egypt, the New Testament and Babylon over the past four years, this year we turn our attention to the Bible’s connections with ancient Persia.


10.00am(1 hour)     Dr. Paul Lawrence – The Medes and Persians in the Bible and beyond
  From being an inspiration for US mail, the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the late Shah of Iran and modern Kurdish nationalism it can be argued that the Medes and the Persians still influence modern affairs. After looking at the history of both peoples in brief overview we shall consider their role in Bible history. What archaeological evidence is there to substantiate the Bible’s claims that Daniel, Esther, Ezra and Nehemiah all prospered under Persian rulers?
11.00am(30 mins) Break (Refreshments in Foyer)
11.30am(1 hour) Prof. Christopher Tuplin (The University of Liverpool) – The Fall and Rise of the Jewish Temple at Elephantine.
  One day (or perhaps night) in July-August 410 BC the Jewish Temple on Elephantine Island, near the first cataract of the Nile, was ransacked and burned by a group of Egyptians led by a Persian officer. This lecture discusses the causes and consequences of  this violent event and puts them in the wider context of Persian attitudes to the non-Persian religions of their imperial subjects.
12.30pm(1 hour) Lunch (in Foyer) 
1.30pm(1 hour) Emeritus Professor Alan Millard (The University of Liverpool) – Aramaic – the Language of the Persian Empire 
  Under the Persian kings, Aramaic was used from Afghanistan to Egypt, from Turkey to Arabia. The lecture will begin with the earliest specimen of Aramaic, inscribed statue of a ruler in the 9th century B.C.,observe its spread under Assyrian and Babylonian kings until it became the international language of the Persian Empire. Most of the Aramaic documents were written perishable materials, but some survive in dry places, and with texts on stone and notes on potsherds they illustrate aspects of life in the empire and set the letters in Ezra 4-7 and other biblical texts in their contexts.
2.30pm(30 mins) Break (Refreshments in Foyer) 
3.00pm(1 hour) Dr. Selim Adalı (Social Sciences University of Ankara) – Persia in the Book of Ezekiel
  Ezekiel 38:5 refers to Persia alongside Cush and Put, as nations gathered around Gog and Magog. Such mention of Persia has aroused much discussion among scholars. This paper seeks to go through the reception of Persia in the Book of Ezekiel. The case is made that Persia was a recognized region and kingdom before its rise as an Empire under the Achaemenid dynasty. To this end, Assyrian and biblical references to Persia are presented. This provides for the opportunity to discuss the origins of the Persian Kingdom and its transition into the Achaemenid Empire.
4.00pm(30 mins) Questions for the SpeakersIf you would like to book on this course – click here Persia and the Bible booking

Archaeology in the North West of England

By Jonathan Trigg

Despite the demise of television shows such as Time Team, archaeology with Continuing Education at the University of Liverpool remains as popular as ever, and we continue to offer some fascinating archaeological courses looking at our region and the wider area. What is it about archaeology that makes it so appealing in the North West? Personally, I think it is the result of the variety of archaeology in the region, and the diversity of ways that you can get involved in one way or another.

Perhaps it is the diversity that is so attractive. The landscape of the region is varied, and so is the archaeology. From nationally significant sites of the Mesolithic Period to monuments of the Industrial Revolution, we have it all here in the North West. Examples of the earliest hunter-gatherers can be found in Lunt Meadows; some of the first farmers buried their dead in a tomb made from the stones in Calderstones Park. Stone axes were quarried from and made in massive axe factories in Penmaenmawr, North Wales and the Langdale in the Lake District. For those of you interested in forts and castles, there are the Iron Age hillforts of the marches and the medieval castles of Edwardian North Wales. For the Romans, Chester is a short trip away, and for more recent archaeology, Liverpool is built on Georgian industrial wealth and let us not forget our historic port!


Want to see some archaeology in the flesh? There are some great museums that you can go to locally, and better still are free entry. The Museum of Liverpool and World Museum both have excellent collections and are both well worth a visit. Further afield, why not try the Manchester Museum, or in your interest is Roman why not take in the Grosvenor Museum in Chester, not forgetting to visit the site of the amphitheatre en route? The University’s own collections are available too – the Victoria Gallery and Museum is open Tuesday to Saturday and the Garstang Museum of Archaeology is open on Wednesdays.


Keeping up with the latest research is easy too. The University hosts regular lectures on a wide variety of topics, and we are lucky to have a large number of societies who are very active. The Council for British Archaeology has a North West Group and there is also the Merseyside Archaeology Society and Middleton Archaeological Group. All of these groups also organise regular lectures and have regular conferences on local topics, as do the Liverpool Museum. And for the children and grandchildren don’t forget that there is the Young Archaeologists Club.


One final note; surely one of the greatest pleasures in archaeology is the practical side of the subject. We are fortunate in Continuing Education to be able to have been involved in a number of projects across the region and to have had our students take part in them. There are numerous opportunities for participation in community archaeology projects throughout the region. For example, Bidston Community Archaeology currently have projects on Bidston Hill and Great Budworth in Cheshire. Liverpool Museums are also particularly active here, and have recently run projects in Sefton, Leasowe, Rainford and Childwall to name but a few.

Want to be involved? Why not have a browse of our current Archaeology programme here  Archaeology programme 2015/16

Once More Unto the Breach

Agincourt 1415-2015: Half-day event of public talks

By Martin Heale, Senior Lecturer in Medieval History, University of Liverpool 

Saturday 6 June, 1.30 – 4.30pm

Management School, University of Liverpool


This year marks the 600th anniversary of Agincourt, one of the most important battles in English history, when Henry V defeated the French forces of Charles VI and prepared the way for the conquest of Normandy. Next month, the Liverpool Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies is holding is holding a half-day of public talks to explore the battle and its significance. It hasn’t proved possible to organise our event on the anniversary of the battle itself in October 2015, but D-Day (Saturday 6 June) seemed like the next best thing!

We are delighted to be able to welcome Anne Curry from the University of Southampton as our main speaker. Professor Curry is the world-leading authority on Agincourt and the author of the most definitive book on the battle: Agincourt: A New History. Two further talks will place the Agincourt in its wider context. Professor Christopher Allmand – the biographer of Henry V and expert on the Hundred Years War – will consider that famous king’s reputation. Our final talk, by professor of English at Liverpool and broadcaster Sarah Peverley, explores the most celebrated retelling of the battle of Agincourt, by William Shakespeare.

This event is open to everyone, and is free of charge. We will, however, need to ask for a contribution of £2.50/person to cover the cost of refreshments on the day. To book a place, please visit the following website, by Wednesday 29 May:

 PROGRAMME – Saturday 6 June, 1.30 – 4.30pm,Management School, University of Liverpool

1.15pm Arrival and registration

1.30pm Introduction and welcome

1.45pm Professor Anne Curry: ‘Agincourt. What Really Happened on 25 October 1415?’

Agincourt is one of the best known battles of the middle ages but still generates controversy today, even at its 600th anniversary. This talk will explore why it was fought where it was, why historians can’t agree on the numbers of soldiers on each side, why the English won so easily, and why we can’t find the French dead. It will take us to the heart of the debate on what can be known for certain and what is simply part of the ‘Agincourt legend’.

2.45pm Refreshments

3.15pm Professor Christopher Allmand:  ‘The Reign of Henry V in Recent Historical Writing

3.45pm Professor Sarah Peverley: ‘Staging Agincourt and Anglo-French Relations in Shakespeare’s Henry V

4.30pm Close

Hyperlinks for blog:


Babylon and the Bible conference

10By Dr. Paul Lawrence – University of Liverpool

Archaeology and the Bible 2015

Saturday 2nd May, 10.00am – 4.30pm University of Liverpool


It is very rare that the university has to turn people away from a conference for lack of space. This happened at a day conference organised by myself and Dr. Glenn Godenho from the school of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology in February, 2012. Undoubtedly a big draw was a public lecture from Emeritus Professor Kenneth Kitchen on Treaty, Law and Covenant in the Ancient Near East. He had spent 56 years writing a 5.5 kg. three volume work on the subject. People came from all over the country, even from Ireland and Germany to hear what was billed as his last public lecture.
Encouraged by such an overwhelming response a second conference took place the following year. This time the keynote speaker was Dr. James Hoffmeier from USA talking on the evidence for the Israelites in Egypt and crossing the Red Sea. The attendance of 100+ was repeated last year with a look at the Archaeology of the New Testament.
We are delighted to announce Archaeology of the Bible Conference for 2015, this years theme is Babylon and the Bible. Emeritus Professor Alan Millard will be the keynote speaker comparing the Babylonian story of the flood with the flood story in the Book of Genesis. It is best to book now to avoid being turned away!

Babylon and the Bible

From the Genesis story of the Tower of Babel to the city whose doom is described in the Book of Revelation Babylon plays an important role in the Bible. Babylon was addressed by many of the Hebrew prophets and was the place to where Daniel and many other Jews were exiled in the 6th C BC. Over a century of excavations have helped to bring ruined Babylon to life. Of particular interest to many is how the Mesopotamian flood stories can be compared  with the Genesis story of Noah and the flood.


10am – Professor Alan Millard –  University Of Liverpool, Genesis and the Babylonian Creation and Flood Stories.  Did Genesis borrow from Babylon? 

When Babylonian tablets were discovered containing stories of the creation of the world and human beings and of a great flood, comparisons we made with the biblical accounts leading people to suppose Genesis we based on Babylonian traditions.  After a century of discovery and research, do those conclusions still hold?  This lecture will re-assess the Babylonian and Hebrew sources.              

11am                    Break (Refreshments)

11.30pm                    Dr Magnus Widell, Sumerian Literature from Ancient Sumer

Sumerian literature, which was written down on clay tablets in the cuneiform script by scribes and students in southern Iraq some 4,000 years ago, represents the oldest readable poetry in the world. In this talk, I will offer a general survey of Sumerian literature, and discuss different literary genres, as well as both ancient and modern classifications of Sumerian literature. We will look at several different types of literary compositions in translation, and analyse the Sumerian literary language and its rich use of metaphors and imagery.

12.15pm                    Dr Paul Lawrence – University of Liverpool, Daniel and Babylon

The stories in the  book of Daniel are some of the best known in the Bible, but are they really to be set in the early 6th C BC or is the whole book a much later composition being written during the persecution of the Jews by the Syrian king Antiochus IV in the mid 2nd C BC? Using archaeological and linguistic evidence both claims will be assessed.

1pm                     Lunch Break

2pm                    Dr Selim Adali  – Social Science University of Ankara,                      Gog and Magog in the Book of Ezekiel in light of Babylonian History

Ezekiel’s prophecy against Gog of Magog assumes a king ruling over Meshech and Tubal sometimes after the fall of Jerusalem 587 BC.  Meshech and Tubal refer to regions of Central Anatolia.  This paper addresses the question of historical background for Gog and Magog in the Book of Ezekiel.  In the process, this paper engages the cuneiform evidence pertaining to this question in the areas of Anatolian Iron Age history and the relation of Ezekiel’s Prophecy with Babylonian religion and literature as treated in cuneo-biblical studies.

3pm                          Break (Refreshments)

3.30pm                     Alan Millard – Liverpool University, Babylonians in the Bible

Merodach-baladan, Nergal-Sharezer –  these are names that don’t trip off the tongue easily if you read the Bible in public!  What can we learn about these people and others with strange names?  Discoveries old and new help to place them in history and to see how the biblical texts fit with their ancient settings.

4.15pm                      Questions for the speakers and concluding remarks                     

To book online, click here








Searching for Richard III


The skeleton found beneath a Leicester car park in 2012 is beyond reasonable doubt that of King Richard III. One of the most controversial of English rulers, Richard has continued to fascinate ever since his death in battle at Bosworth in 1485, provoking numerous literary and artistic portrayals as a ruthless murderer of princes and devious plotter with unstoppable ambition. The legacy of this long tradition is the indelible image of Richard III as a disfigured hunchback, malign in appearance and in character.

This autumn, Continuing Education researchers in the Archaeology, Art History, English and History departments join the search for the real Richard III in a series of linked evening lectures. These talks will investigate the scientific and historic evidence that helps us to understand how this picture of the king was formed and will enable us to better judge how accurate the picture might be. If you choose to attend all four Richard III lectures then you will pay the discounted rate of £30.

Richard III: reign and reputation
Lecture: Monday 14 October 6.15 – 8pm, University of Liverpool
With Dr Martin Heale
This lecture will assess the brief reign of Richard III and consider how historians have sought to understand and evaluate this most controversial – and topical – of English kings.
CRN 17617

Life in the age of Richard III: a bioarchaeological perspective
Lecture: Monday 28 October 6.15 – 8pm, University of Liverpool
With Shirley Curtis-Summers
Using scientific evidence from the skeletal remains of Richard III, this lecture will build a picture of past lifeways in the middle ages. Key case studies will be presented in bioarchaeology (how we identify and recreate evidence of diet, health, trauma and pathology). We will analyse the skeletal trauma from Richard III and the Battle of Towton skeletons, investigate monastic dieting and fasting practices, and consider diet and disease from the medieval perspective.
Note that images of human remains will be shown in this lecture.
CRN 18025

Richard III: Shakespeare’s villain
Lecture: Monday 11 November 6.15 – 8pm, University of Liverpool
With Andrea Young
As part of our Searching for Richard III series, this session will explore the historical, literary and dramatic influences on which Shakespeare drew to create one of his greatest anti-heroes.
CRN 17885

Richard III: Portraying the King
Lecture: Monday 25 November 6.15 – 8pm, University of Liverpool
With Dr Suzanne May
One of the Walker Art Gallery’s most important paintings is ‘David Garrick as Richard III’. This lecture tells how William Hogarth’s 1745 portrait reconciles Shakespearean historicism and dramatic licence with artistic ambition and celebrity portraiture.
CRN 15667

For more information on Continuing Education please visit

Continuing Education student achieves PhD

Dr John Hill. jpg

A PhD student in archaeology has graduated from the University of Liverpool this week after starting his studies almost a decade ago on a Continuing Education (CE) Course. John Hill, 58, has been celebrating his achievement at an event hosted by the International Summer School following his graduation ceremony.

John worked in a bank before he started an archaeology CE course at the University of Liverpool. After completing the programme John enrolled on a Masters course in archaeology in 2005 before moving on to do his PhD investigating architectural design of pre-historic monuments. He is now a lecturer for Continuing Education and Summer School courses at the University.

Continuing Education gives anyone – from people just starting out or mid-career and hoping to progress, to those just looking to take a break or make a change – the chance to access accredited programmes which are pitched at undergraduate level.

“I’m very grateful for all the help, support and assistance that CE has provided me with. It opened the doorway to higher education for me” The courses, which range from ancient languages to science, can either be undertaken for University credit towards an award, or just for fun.

Commenting on his graduation, John Hill said: “I’m very grateful for all the help, support and assistance that CE has provided me with. It opened the doorway to higher education for me.”

Glenn Godenho, Academic Organiser for Archaeology and Ancient Languages, said: “Continuing Education at Liverpool prides itself on providing learning for a variety of people, each with their own particular goals, and John’s progression from CE to PhD is the perfect example of just how far extra mural study can take you. John’s passion for Continuing Education and his subject means that he is one of our most popular teachers, and I am pleased to hear that he plans to continue to develop and deliver exciting courses which are allied to his unique archaeological research.”

Dr Anne Qualter, Director of Academic Development and Lifelong Learning, said: “We are all delighted for John and proud to have had a part in his journey. He has been a stalwart supporter of Continuing Education for many years both as a student and more recently as a lecturer.

“Opening the door to Higher Education for adults of all ages is what we are about, and John is an example of how far you can go once you take that first step.”

If you would like to know more about Continuing Education visit for a full listing of our current programme. If you would like to know more about Dr John Hill you can view his new video entry on the geometry of ancient stones here.