Marco Madella

Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF)


After graduating at the University of Milan (Italy) in Natural Sciences (Botany), I worked as a contract scientist at the Archaeological Museum of Como and left the team in 1993 to start a PhD at the University of Cambridge. After finishing my PhD I took up a position as research fellow at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, also teaching archaeology and human evolution at the Institute for Continuing Education (Madingly Hall) of the University of Cambridge. In 2004 I became affiliated lecturer in the Department of Archaeology and in 2005 director of studies in archaeology and anthropology at St. Edmund's College in the University of Cambridge. Since July 2005 I am ICREA research professor first at the IMF-CSIC and from 2014 at Universitat Pompeu Fabra. I currently coordinate the Complexity and Socio-Ecological Dynamics (CaSEs) research group.

Research interests

My background is in archaeobotany and environmental archaeology, and I investigate the socio-ecological dynamics of past human populations from Mediterranean to tropical environments. My interests span from past vegetation histories, the modelling and simulation of processes in human behavioural change, people-plants co-evolutionary dynamics, long term trajectories of biodiversity and sustainability in prehistoric societies, and the origin and resilience of agriculture. Agriculture had an immense impact on humans and non-humans, and the future of our world is linked to making agriculture sustainable by maintaining biodiversity, revaluating traditional knowledge and mitigating environmental impact. Key areas for my work are South and West Asia, and South America.

Selected publications

– Salpeteur M, Patel HR, Molina JL, Balbo AL, Rubio-Campillo X, Reyes-García V & Madella M 2016, ‘Comigrants and friends: informal networks and the transmission of traditional ecological knowledge among seminomadic pastoralists of Gujarat, India’, Ecology and Society, vol. 21(2):20.

– Zerboni A, Biagetti S, Lancelotti, Madella M 2016, ‘The end of the Holocene Humid Period in the central Sahara and Thar deserts: societal collapses or new opportunities?’, Past Global Changes Magazine – Climate change and cultural evolution, vol. 24(2)  pp. 60-61.

– Friesem DE, Lavi N, Madella M, Ajithprasad P, French C 2016, ‘Site Formation Processes and Hunter-Gatherers Use of Space in a Tropical Environment: A Geo-Ethnoarchaeological Approach from South India’, PLoS ONE, 11(10): e0164185.

– Garcia-Granero JJ, Lancelotti C, Madella M & Ajithprasad P 2016, ‘Millets and Herders – The Origin of Plant Cultivation in Semiarid North Gujarat (India)’, Current Anthropology, vol. 57, no. 2, pp. 149-166.

– Zurro D, Garcia-Granero JJ, Lancelotti C & Madella M 2016, ‘Directions in current and future phytolith research’, Journal of Archaeological Science, vol. 68, pp. 112-117.

– Crema ER, Habu J, Kobayashi K, Madella M 2016, ‘Summed Probability Distribution of 14C Dates Suggests Regional Divergences in the Population Dynamics of the Jomon Period in Eastern Japan’, PLoS ONE, vol: 11(4): e0154809.

– Lancelotti C, Zurro D, Whitehouse NJ, Kramer KL, Madella M, García-Granero JJ & Greaves RD 2016, ‘Resilience of small-scale societies’ livelihoods: a framework for studying the transition from food gathering to food production’, Ecology and Society, 21(4):8.

Selected research activities

– Global co-coordinator for the LndUse6k initiative of PAGES-Past Global Changes.

– Member of the Future Earth cluster Modeling Sustainable Futures (

– Advisory member in the Human and Biosphere Commission of INQUA (

– Visiting researcher at the Research Institute for Humanities and Nature (RIHN-Kyoto) and the Universidade de Sao Paulo (ESALQ).