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Marco Madella

Marco Madella

Universitat Pompeu Fabra


I am an ICREA Research Professor in the Department of Humanities, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, where I coordinate the Culture and Socio-Ecological Dynamics (CaSEs) research group. I also hold an Honorary Professorship in the School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa and in the Center for Archaeology, Heritage & Museum Studies, Shiv Nadar University, India. Previously, I have been an ICREA at the IMF-CSIC in Barcelona, Affiliated Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology and Lecturer at the Institute for Continuing Education (Madingly Hall), University of Cambridge, and Director of Studies in Archaeology and Anthropology at St. Edmund's College (University of Cambridge). Over the past twenty years I have been awarded grants and fellowships including those from the McDonald Institute (Cambridge), British Academy, Accademia della Crusca, European Union, Spanish Government, INQUA, BBVA and Palarq Foundations.

Research interests

My background is in archaeobotany and environmental archaeology, and I am interested in understanding the socio-ecological dynamics of past human populations in extreme environments such as hyper-humid and arid/semi-arid, from the Mediterranean to the tropics. My interests span from past vegetation histories and land use, 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, re-evaluating traditional knowledge and mitigating environmental impact. Archaeology can play a key role in all these lines of investigation. Key areas for my work are South and West Asia, and South America. I carry out fieldwork in Pakistan as PI of the ModAgrO project.

Selected publications

– KD Morrison, E Hammer, O Boles, M Madella, et al (64 total authors) 2021, ‘Mapping past human land use using archaeological data: a new classification for global land use synthesis and data harmonization’. PLOS One, 16, 4, e0246662.

– Santiago-Marrero C, Tzorakis C, Lancelotti C and Madella M 2021, ‘A microbotanical and microwear perspective to plant processing activities and foodways at Neolithic Çatalhöyük’. Plos One, 16, 6, e0252312.

Lancelotti C, Martínez-Sanchez RM, Ver Rodríguez JC, Pérez-Jordà G, Peña-Chocarro L, Biagetti S and Madella M 2021. ‘Phytolith analyses from Khil and Kaf Taht el-Ghar (Western Maghreb): plant use trajectories in a long-term perspective’. Journal of Archaeological Science Report, 37, 102921.

– Out, Welmoed A.; Mieth, Andreas; Pla-Rabes, Sergi; Madella, Marco; Khamnueva-Wendt, Svetlana; Langan, Carolin; Dreibrodt, Stefan; Merseburger, Stefan; Bork, Hans-Rudolf 2021, ‘Prehistoric pigment production on Rapa Nui (Easter Island), c. AD 1200-1650: New insights from Vaipu and Poike based on phytoliths, diatoms and C-14 dating’, Holocene, 31, 4, 592 – 606.

– Bates J, Lancelotti C, Suryanarayan A & Madella M 2021, ‘The challenge of the unique and unprecedented, comment on Agnihorti et al. (2021)’, Journal of Archaeological Science Reports, vol. 39, pp 103174.

– de Souza GJ, Silva Noelli F & Madella M 2021, ‘Reassessing the role of climate change in the Tupi expansion (South America, 5000–500 BP)‘, Journal of the Royal Society – Interface, 18, 183, 20210499.

– Biagetti, Stefano; Zurro, Debora; Alcaina-Mateos, Jonas; Bortolini, Eugenio; Madella, Marco 2021, ‘Quantitative Analysis of Drought Management Strategies across Ethnographically-Researched African Societies: A Pilot Study’, Land, 10, 10, 1062.

ICREA Memoir 2021