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Environmental Archaeology entry

Archaeobotany Research

foraging, plant domestication, agricultural systems and past environments

online archaeobotanical resources for teaching and research

Staff Projects South Asia...East Asia...Africa...Europe & Near East

South Asia

East Asia

  • Rice domestication and acorn foraging in the Lower Yanzgte China: new work at Tian Luo Shan. Dr. Dorian Fuller (Lecturer)
  • Crop-production in the Later Neolithic of central China, Henan, including the site of Baligang. Dr. Dorian Fuller (Lecturer) and Alison Weisskopf (PhD student)


  • Agricultural production in Medieval Morocco at Volubilis. Dr. Dorian Fuller (Lecturer) and Ruth Pelling
  • Reassessing ancient Egyptian crops, crop husbandry and the agrarian landscape. Dr. Mary Anne Murray (research fellow)
  • Archaeobotany of Nubia, such as the site of Kawa. Dr. Dorian Fuller (lecturer)
  • Dr. Chris Stevns (Honorary Research Assistant in Archaeobotany) works on the archaeobotany of New Kingdom Amarna, Egypt. He is employed by Wessex Archaeology and conducts analyses of British material as part of numerous commercial archaeology projects.

Neolithic Setaria verticillata from Hallur, South Indiawell irrigation of Sorghum, Tamil Nadu

Rice harvest in Zhejiang ChinaBuglossoides tenuiflora, silicified hairbase, trichome

Horderum vulgare, barley, rachis remains, Kawa, Sudan, Iron Agecleared leaf of Ribes

Near East and Europe

  • The origins and spread agriculture in the Near East and Europe. Dr. Sue Colledge (Honarary Research Fellow), including a recent AHRC research project, and current archaeobotanical projects in Croatia and Cyprus, involving research by researc students Kelly Reed and Leilani Espinda.
  • Bronze Age agricultural systems in the Near East and Yemen, various archaeobotanical projects. Dr. Dominique De Moulins
  • Dr. Lucy Fiona Allott, of the UCL Centre for Applied Archaeology, conducts analyses on British material as part of numerous commercial archaeology projects. She has previously worked on Palaeolithic charcoal in South Africa.
  • Dr. Michelle Wollstonecroft, British Academy Post-Doctoral fellow (from October 2008), researching 'Mesolithic plant food processing and species selection: an archaeobotanical investigation into the resource decisions of the final hunter-gatherers of Southwestern Europe'
  • various other phytolith and geoarchaeological projects (see Geoarchaeology)

archaeobotany at Giza: flotationFlotation at Giza: Mary Anne Murray
for more images of archaeobotany in action
check out the Flotation photo gallery

Current PhD Research Projects

The technology and social/cultural use of flowers and foliage to form symbolic and decorative artefacts: ethnographic analogy and Egyptian funerary garlands...Sally McAleely

Dynamic spatial modelling in landscape palaeoecology: case studies from post-LGM England...Edgar Samarasundara

Vegetation, Agriculture and Social Change in Late Neolithic central China: a phytolith investigation... Alison Weisskopf

The phytolith record at Catal Hoyuk and emergeing social and economic complexity in the Neolithic of Central Anatolia... Phillippa Ryan

A Diachronic approach to the Archaeobotanical remains from Regio VI Insula I, Pompeii, Italy...Charlene Murphy

Phytolith analyses on Santorini... Lefteris Zorzos

Development of Agriculture in Southeast Europe (Archaeobotanical evidence from Croatia)...Kelly Reed

Agricultural intensification and long-distance trade in the evolution of complex societies in Peninsular and Mainland Southeast Asia (500 BCE- 500 CE): an archaeobotanical approach... Cristina Castillo

Economy and Interaction: Exploring Archaeobotanical Contributions in Cypriot Prehistory....Leilani Lucas [nee Espinda]

The agricultural economy during the Longshan period in China: an archaeobotanical perspective from Shandong and Shanxi.....Jixiang Song

Recent MSc Dissertations & selected BSc Dissertations

The site of Ghola Dhoro, Bagasra in the framework of cuisine and cultural identity in Harappan Gujarat: An archaeobotanical and ceramic analysis... Sarah Luddy (BA, 2008)

Archaeobotany and Complex Societies: A Look into Changes in the Archaeobotanical Record Between Egypt's Predynatsic and Early Dynastic periods... Mennat-Allah El Dorry (MA, 2007)

If you want to eat, I'll tax your wheat: An archaeobotanical analysis of operation G at Ziyarat Tepe, a possible tax collector's residence... Robert R. Atkins, Jr. (MSc, 2006)

Early Farming in Dalmatia: Preliminary Archaeobotanical report on the Middle Neolithic of Danilo...Kelly Reed (MSc, 2006)

Investigation of the Neolithic Ashmound and Settlement of Sanganakallu in the South Deccan, India using phytoliths and macro-archaeobotanical materials...Alison Weisskopf (MSc, 2005) [on SGK]

Empires and social change: Evidence from archaeobotanical remains of Ziyaret Tepe, Turkey...Jonathan Digby (MSc, 2004)

Supporting the Smelt: An archaeological investigation into the selection and use of plants within Bugandan Iron Smelting Traditions... Louise Iles (BSc, 2004)....conference paper arising from this

An Investigation into the Agricultural Origins of inland Southern Tamil Nadu: adoption or expansion? Archaeobotanical research at Mangudi, Kodumanal and Perur....Miriam Cooke (MSc, 2003)
.....pdf of published paper arising from this research [about project]

Agricultural Production at Early Islamic Volubilis...Anne de Vareilles (BSc, 2003) [about Volubilis]

The Effects of charring on pulses and implications for using size change to identify domestication in Eurasia...Mervyn Jupe (BA, 2003)

Sampling at Catalhoyuk: The theory and methodology of archaeobotanical sampling...Kathryn Killacky (MA, 2002)

Investigating Neolithic Agriculture using Phytolith Analysis on Two Asian sites (Yiluo River Valley, Henan Pronvince China and Mahagara, Uttar Pradesh, India)...Emma Louise Harvey (MSc, 2002)

Investigating changing agricultural production and patterns of subsistence at Ancient Hund, in the Vale of Peshawar, Pakistan....Miriam Cooke (BSc, 2002) [about Hund]

Flower Arranging and Archaeology....Sally McAleely (BSc, 2001)

An initial investigation into aspects of archaeobotany, using phytolith analysis from the site of Hund, Pakistan...Anies Hassan (MSc, 2000) [about Hund]

Recent PhD Dissertations

Arable agriculture and social organisation: a study of crops and farming systems in Bronze Age Ireland.... Meriel McClatchie (2008)

Post-harvest intensification in Late Pleistocene Southwest Asia: food processing as a critical variable in Epipalaeolithic subsistence systems and subsistence change. ....Michelle Wolstonecroft (2007)

Agriculture and trade amongst the Garamantes: 3000 years of archaeobotanical data from the Sahara and its margins....
Ruth Pelling (2007)

Early Agricultural Communities in northern and eastern India...Emma Harvey (2006)
[includes the Belan valley]

Charcoal Analysis from Catalhoyuk and Pinarbasi, Two Neolithic Sites in the Konya Plain, South-Central Anatolia, Turkey...Eleni Asouti (2001) [now lecturer at the University of Liverpool]

Cereal Production and Processing in Pharaonic Egypt, with particular reference to the town sites of Giza, Abydos and Memphis...Mary Anne Murray (2000)

wild rice, Oryza nivara, Orissa, IndiaEmma Harvey collecting annual wild rice (Oryza nivara) in Orissa, 2003.


Sue Colledge and wild barley (Hordeum spontaneum) in the Syrian steppe, 1983

Other past research and emeritus faculty

Gordon Hillman, honarary visting professor (former lecturer). Interested in hunter-gatherer plant use, wild plant food processing, traditional crop-processing, crop-domestication and the origins of agriculture in the Near East,. Gordon recently appeared on TV in the BBC series on Wild Foods with Ray Mears. He has 87 publications: a complete list is here.

Professor David Harris, Professor emeritus of Human Environment.
Subsistence systems and agricultural origins worldwide. Recent fiedlwork includes Neolithic Jeitun in Turkenistan.

Dr. Ann Butler, former honorary lecturer. The archaeobotany and ethnoarchaeology of pulses, especially Viciae and Trifoliae. [website]

Dr. Jon Hather, former Senior Lecturer. The archaeology of wood and tubers. Parenchyma in archaeobotany. [gothicgreenoak]

Dr. Sarah Mason, former research fellow, conducted research on hunter-gatherer subsistence and archaeobotany, including these web resources.

dehusking and winnowing millet, at PrimtechStudents de-husking and winnowing millet on the annual Experimental Archaeology camping trip

The Institute of Archaeology recently hosted the following conferences, symposia and seminar series related to this research area:

Fifth International Workshop in African Archaeobotany (July 2006)

Symposium: Recent Research on Neolithic China (Feb. 2006)

Research Seminar series: Social Frontiers of Economies:
a worldwide perspective on interactions between hunter-gatherers, herders and farmers

New Perspectives on the Origins and Spread of Farming in Southwest Asia and Europe (15th – 17th December 2003).... now published

Teaching in environmental archaeology

MSc in Environmental Archaeology: official webpage

online archaeobotanical resources for teaching and research

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Last modified: 29/10/2008