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Rosa María Albert

Rosa María Albert

Universitat de Barcelona


With my training in Archeology, I am specialized in Microarcheology, the study of the invisible record, to understand the relationship between humans and plants from a long-term perspective. I obtained my PhD in Archaeology in 1999 after 3 years at the Weizmann Inst of Science working with Prof. S.Weiner. I pioneered in applying quantitative and morphological phytolith analyses to Prehistoric sites aiming to shed new light on the use of fire by past populations. From 2005/13 I founded and directed GEPEG recognized as Quality Research Group by Catalan Government. At pesent, I amb responsible for the Paleoenvironment and Paleovegetation (PALEO) research area within ERAAUB (UB). In 2011 I created PhytCore, the most extensive online phytolith database to date. I have directed more than 20 research projects and written more than 135 contributions (80 SCI). Since 2018 I co-direct the European Advanced research grant TerrACE to study the use of cultivated plants. 

Research interests

My scientific interest lies in improving our understanding of the relationship between humans and plants from a long-term perspective. To do this, my research focuses on rebuilding the vegetation of human-occupied landscapes and understanding the human use of plants, including studying fire, agriculture, and grazing practices and their impact on the landscape. Methodologically, I apply a fine resolution multi-proxy analysis based on the identification of the mineralogical composition and microscopic content (not visible to the naked eye) of archaeological sediments, and closely related, to identify plant remains (phytoliths, starches, calcium oxalates ), as well as other microremains of biological origin (diatoms, spicule sponges, chrysophytes, fecal spherulites). In recent years, I have also dedicated part of my time to developing digital platforms for database exchange to enhance the dissemination of microarchaeological research (

Selected publications

– Brown, T., Fallu, D., Walsh, K., Cucciaro, S., Tarolli, P., Zhao, P., Pears, B., Van Oost, K., Snape, L., Lang, A., Albert, R.M., Alsos, I., Waddington, C. 2021. ‘Ending the Cinderella Status of Terraces and Lynchets in Europe: The Geomorphology of Agricultural Terraces and Implications for Ecosystem Services and Climate Adaptation’. Geomorpholoy, 379, 107579.

– Stollhofen, H., Stanistreet, I., Toth, N., Schick, K.D., Rodríguez-Cintas, A., Albert, R.M., Farrugia, P., Njau, J., Pante, M., Hermann, E., Ruck, L., Bamford, M., Blumenschine, R.J., Masao, F. T. 2021. ‘Olduvai Oldest Oldowan’Journal of Human Evolution, 150. 102910.

Selected research activities

– Honorary Professor in the Evolutionary Sciences Institute (ESI). University of Witwatersrand (South Africa).

– Recently appointed Member of the Editorial Board of Quaternary Science Review Journal.

– Co-organizer of the Session:  Everything you always wanted to know about phytoliths (but were afraid…): their contribution to the modeling of past human behaviour.  27th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA), Kiel (Germany), Sep 2021.

– PI of the recently awarded project MICRO-PAST Microarchaeology: advancing methodological approaches to understand the relationship between humans and their environments . Funded by Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación.2021

– Presentation for TerrACE project

ICREA Memoir 2021