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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site


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

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. 2014. Phytolith Studies in Archaeology. In Claire Smith (ed) Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology, Springer, New York, 5920-5931.

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., P. Ryan, W. Van Neer and R. Friedman. 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 Volume 6, pp. 97-106.