Researching Ivory:

Integrating scientific analyses, historical data, artefact studies and conservation needs.


A pressing current challenge in conservation, museology, archaeology, anthropology and art history is the fully-integrated study and management of artefacts made from animal tissues. These materials are inherently complex and their study is multi-disciplinary. One of the most culturally significant of all animal-derived materials is ivory, derived from the teeth of large terrestrial and marine mammals, such as elephant, hippopotamus, walrus and the toothed whales. As parts of the living animal, they are the investigative preserve of zoologists; as deposited fossils they become the raw material of archaeologists and palaeontologists; and as artefacts in archaeological assemblages or museum collections they become objects of anthropological or art-historical investigation and a challenge for curation and conservation. 

Aims of the cluster
The purpose of this research cluster is to pioneer the integration of all of these areas of expertise, to optimise the flow of research questions and investigative methods between disciplines, and to enhance our knowledge of the cultural role that ivory has served in different human societies, with particular attention being given to issues of interpretation, representation and authentication.


Workshop 1 April 23rd 2009


Workshop 2 June 9th 2009

Horniman Museum, London

The workshops are intended for anyone with active research interests and/or curatorial or conservation responsibilities for objects made from ivory – whether from elephants or other species – who would like to know more about current research in British universities and museums on their identification, origins, working, uses, history, exhibition, curation and conservation, and the potential for future multi-disciplinary studies. The workshops will also appeal to individuals responsible for monitoring and controlling the illegal contemporary trade in ivory and ivory products.

Researching Ivory:

Logo Science and Heritage

Welcome to the webpages for the AHRC/ESPRC Science and Heritage Ivory Research Cluster

ebur (Latin: ivory)
Ivory or dentin; especially of very large teeth; such as, the tusks of the elephant, walrus, hippopotamus, and narwhal.

Photos and downloads of Presentations from Liverpool Workshop available

Photographs from the 3rd Ivory Workshop

interested in learning more or becoming involved?  contact:-

Paul Lane, University of York:
Sonia O'Connor, University of Bradford:

Other Networks (external link)

         Details of the individual networks