Philippa Ryan


+44 (0)20 7323 8797 

Philippa is analysing the charred macrobotanical remains (seeds, grains and fruits), as well as phytoliths (microbotanical remains) from the site of Amara West. This research was initially funded in 2011 by the Leverhulme Trust as part of the ‘Health and diet in occupied Nubia through political and climate change’ project. Philippa is currently principal investigator for an Arts and Humanities Research Council grant [AH/K006193/1] ‘Sustainability and subsistence systems in a changing Sudan’ (2013-2016) in collaboration with Katherine Homewood (UCL).

This latest project seeks a better understanding of the relationship between people and the Nile Valley in northern Sudan, and how present-day and ancient peoples have found solutions for coping with a risky environment. Research includes interviewing Nubian farmers to investigate the characteristics of customary agriculture and in what ways these have been impacted by new farming methods, population movements, dam and road-building – as well as changing patterns of imports and trade. The information from contemporary farmers and Amara West will be placed within a broader temporal overview of what is known about crop choices within the region, including from archaeo-botanical, ethnographic and agricultural studies.

In 2010, at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL, Philippa completed her PhD entitled ‘Diversity of plant and land use during the Near Eastern Neolithic, phytolith perspectives from Çatalhöyük’. Philippa has also worked as a phytolith analyst for projects based in Mali (Timbuktu Expedition Project), Turkmenistan (Monjukli Depe) and Italy (Ancient Stabiae Garden Project at the Villa Arianna).

Current projects

Amara West, Sudan

Sustainability and subsistence systems in a changing Sudan

Previous projects

Chiseldon cauldrons: analysis of the charred macrobotanical remains (seeds, grains and fruits)

Hierakonpolis: phytolith analysis of gut contents from an animal cemetery

External fellowships/ honorary positions/ membership of professional bodies

Honorary Research Associate at the Institute of Archaeology,
University College London

Recent Publications

Ryan P., Cartwright C. R. and Spencer N. in press. Charred macroremains (seeds, fruits) and phytoliths from villa E12.10 at Amara West, a pharaonic town in northern Sudan. In U. Thanheiser (ed) Proceedings from the 7th International Workshop for African Archaeobotany Vienna, 2 – 5 July 2012.

Ryan P. and Rosen A. (in press) Managing risk through diversification in plant exploitation during the 7th millennium BC: the microbotanical (phytolith) record at Çatalhöyük. In P.F. Biehl and O. Nieuwenhuyse (eds) Climate and Cultural Change in Prehistoric Europe and the Near East, Volume 3 of the Distinguished Monograph Series of the Institute for European and Mediterranean Archaeology, Suny Press, New York

Ryan P. 2014. Phytolith Studies in Archaeology. In Claire Smith (ed) Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology, Springer, New York, pp. 5920-5931. DOI 10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_2258

Madella M., Garcia-Granero J. J., Out W., Ryan P. and Usai D. 2014 Microbotanical Evidence of Domestic Cereals in Africa 7000 Years Ago, PLOS One, DOI: 0.1371/journal.pone.0110177

Bogaard A., Ryan P., Yalman N. , Asouti E., Twiss K., Mazzucato C. and Farid S. 2014 Assessing outdoor activities and their social implications at Çatalhöyük. In I Hodder (ed) Integrating Çatalhöyük: themes from the 2000-2008 seasons, Volume 10, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press at UCLA, Los Angeles

Charles M., Doherty C., Asouti E., Bogaard A., Henton E., Spencer Larsen C., Ruf, C.B., Ryan P., Sadvari J.W. and Twiss K.C. 2014 Landscape and taskscape at Çatalhöyük: an integrated perspective. In I Hodder (ed) Integrating Çatalhöyük: themes from the 2000-2008 seasons, Volume 10, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press at UCLA, Los Angeles

Demirergi G.A., Twiss K., Bogaard A., Green L., Ryan P. and Farid S. 2014 Of bins, basins and banquets: storing, handling and sharing food at Neolithic Çatalhöyük. In I Hodder (ed) Integrating Çatalhöyük: themes from the 2000-2008 seasons, Volume 10, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press at UCLA, Los Angeles

Ryan P. and Spencer N. 2013 Diet and plant-use at Amara West. Egyptian Archaeology 42, pp. 18-20.

Ryan P. 2013 Plant exploitation from household and landscape perspectives: the phytolith evidence. In I Hodder (ed) Humans and landscapes of Çatalhöyük: reports from the 2000-2008 seasons, Volume 8, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press at UCLA, Los Angeles, Chapter 9.

Marinova E., Ryan P., Van Neer W. and Friedman R. 2013 Animal dung from arid environments and archaeobotanical methodologies for its analysis: An example from animal burials of the Predynastic elite cemetery HK6 at Hierakonpolis, Egypt. Journal of Environmental Archaeology 18 (1), pp. 58-71.

Shillito L-M. and Ryan P. 2013 Surfaces and streets: phytoliths, micromorphology and changing use of space at Neolithic Çatalhöyük (Turkey) Antiquity 87, pp. 684 – 700.

Wendrich W. and Ryan P. 2013 Phytoliths and basketry materials at Çatalhöyük (Turkey): timelines of growth, harvest and objects’ life histories, Paléorient 38 (1), pp. 57-65.

Ryan P., Cartwright C.R. and Spencer N. 2012 Archaeobotanical research in a pharaonic town in ancient Nubia. British Museum Technical Research Bulletin Volume 6, pp. 97-106.

Ryan P. 2011 Plants as material culture in the Near Eastern Neolithic: Perspectives from the silica skeleton artifactual remains at Çatalhöyük. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 30 (3), pp.292-305. doi:10.1016/j.jaa.2011.06.002