Taylor's academic work began studying ornamental metalwork of the Balkans and western Asia. Since, his focus has shifted and he has done extensive work on the archaeology of cannibalism, sexuality and material culture theory. He has also written several popular books on archaeology. In the 1980s and 1990s he frequently presented his work on television. The British Archaeological Award winner for "best popular archaeology on television" 1991 was a "Down to Earth" episode on which he appeared. Taylor is known for his closely reasoned, wide-ranging, and provocative ideas, and for his ability to connect with a general audience of readers and viewers.
Taylor was born in Norfolk and educated at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford.
The Prehistory of Sex: Four Million Years of Human Sexual Culture 1996, Bantam ISBN 0-553-37527-X – a controversial book actually beginning eight million years in the past.
The Buried Soul: How Humans Invented Death 2004, Beacon ISBN 0-8070-4672-8 – claims evidence for widespread prehistoric vampirism and cannibalism, and that ceremonial burial predates social conceptions of an immortal soul.
The Artificial Ape: How Technology Changed the Course of Human Evolution 2010, Palgrave Macmillan ISBN 978-0-230-61763-6