Photo of Professor Alan Outram

Professor Alan Outram

Public engagement

Professor Outram has recently been engaged in the OpenArch project, which was led in Exeter by Prof Linda Hurcombe and funded by the EU's Culture Programme. The project involved a large consortium of open air archaeology museums from around Europe. It aimed to allow this increasingly popular form of museum to develop through international workshops and collaborative activities. Exeter was the only academic institution involved, because of its acknowledged specialist knowledge in the field of experimental archaeology and reconstruction. Our task was to contribute to the 'dialogues with science' work package of the project. In other words, we employed our technical and academic expertise to try to enhance the value and rigour of the excellent education and visitor experiences these museums offer. Our partners in Wales, Scotland, Germany, The Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Italy, Serbia and Spain, and we continue to cultivate these partnerships now that the initial project has completed.

I take students to excavate in South Dakota every year at a site that has a museum and is open for the public to see archaeology in action. There is a constant enagement with visitors by both the students and myself. To increase the reach of the activities, we always give press interviews and appear on regional TV and radio, raising the profile of archaeology and our work.  We also hold a special annual archaeology awareness weekend  where there are extra demonstrations and activities for local citizens and tourists.

Contribution to discipline

Editorial Positions:

Editor-in-chief of Routledge journal Science and Technology of Archaeological Research (STAR).

Advisory Board Member (and former Executive Editor), World Archaeology (a Routledge journal)

Honorary Positions:

Adjunct Professor of Anthropology, Augustana University, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Memberships of Societies and Professional Bodies:

Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London
Member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists
Member of the Association for Environmental Archaeology
Member of the International Council for Archaeozoology
Member of the Prehistoric Society
Member of the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology
Member of the Society for American Archaeology
Honorary Life Member of the Stoke-on-Trent City Museum Archaeological Society


It is important to ensure that the results of research, that may be of wider interest to the public, are disseminated as widely as possible. My paper ‘The Earliest Horse Harnessing and Milking’ published Science (2009), was the subject of co-ordinated press releases to ensure maximum impact with the public. The story was covered by many major newspapers in the UK (e.g. The Times, Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph) and internationally (e.g. The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Edmonton Journal, Shanghai Daily, The Yomiuri Shimbun [Japan]), and through both live and recorded radio interviews including on Radio 4’s Today Programme, Radio 5’s Drive Time, and World Service’s Science in Action. Internationally, there were interviews on USA National Public Radio and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as well as recorded interviews for translation into foreign languages with German national radio and Radio Classique Paris and Radio Free Europe. The story was covered in major popular magazines (e.g. Science Magazine, Science News, New Scientist, and Discover Magazine), and news/science websites (e.g. National Geographic and Nature).

Alan is currently working with a film maker on a new major documentary on the history of the horse.