Philippa Ryan

Contact

+44 (0) 207 323 8167
pryan@thebritishmuseum.ac.uk 

Philippa Ryan has been a scientist in the British Museum since 2011. Her research interests include archaeobotany, ethnobotany, the food and non-food uses of plants, agricultural change, agroecology, past human environments, and food security.

 

Philippa is analysing the charred macrobotanical remains (seeds, grains and fruits), as well as phytoliths (microbotanical remains) from the site of Amara WestThis 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. Between (2013-2016) Philippa was Principal Investigator for the ‘Sustainability and subsistence systems in a changing Sudan’ project. She has been investigating ancient and recent crop changes using ethnobotanical and archaeobotanical methods. This includes interviewing farmers about agricultural systems, further archaeobotanical research at Amara West, and placing results from these case-studies within a broader temporal overview of what is known about crop choices from other archaeobotanical, ethnographic and agricultural studies.

Philippa is currently Principal Investigator for the ‘Learning from the past: Nubian traditional knowledge and agricultural resilience, crop choices and endangered cultural heritage’ project (2017–2018). This is funded through the AHRC ‘Follow-on Funding for Impact and Engagement Scheme’ to produce new outputs for the ‘Sustainability and subsistence systems in a changing Sudan’ project. Research aims include to advocate the importance of using local agricultural knowledge to help create strategies for agricultural resilience, to highlight the potential future role of increasingly little-used crops, and to explore how ethnobotanical and archaeobotanical approaches can contribute to debates and future agricultural strategies. A key output is the creation and distribution of a community orientated book ‘Nubia past and present; agriculture crops and food’.

Prior to joining the British Museum, Philippa completed her PhD in 2010 at the UCL Institute of Archaeology 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 several projects in Mali (Timbuktu Expedition Project), Turkmenistan (Monjukli Depe), Italy (Ancient Stabiae Garden Project at the Villa Arianna), Egypt (Hieronkoplis), as well as at for other projects in Sudan (including the Kerma Ancien cemetery H29).

Current projects

Learning from the past: Nubian traditional knowledge and agricultural resilience, crop choices and endangered cultural heritage

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


Grants Awarded


Principle Investigator for an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Research Grant (Follow-on Funding for Impact and Engagement Scheme, Early Career Route): Learning from the past: Nubian traditional knowledge and agricultural resilience, crop choices and endangered cultural heritage (2017 – 2018).

Principle Investigator for an AHRC Research grant, Early Career Route: Sustainability and subsistence systems in a changing Sudan (2013 – 2016). CI Prof. Katherine Homewood (UCL Anthropology).

These grants are both funded under the AHRC theme ‘Care for the Future: Thinking Forward through the Past, Environment & Sustainability’.
 

 

Recent Publications

Ryan, P. 2017 Ancient Egypt and Sudan: a Key Stage 2 guide to farming in the Nile Valley. https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/exhibit/rwKyk-YaOyfgJw

Ryan, P. 2018. Nubia past and present; agriculture crops and food. The British Museum, printed in London and Khartoum. ISBN 9780714182278

Cartwright, C.R., Ryan, P. 2017. Archaeobotanical research at Amara West in New Kingdom Nubia. In: Spencer, N., Stevens, A. (eds.) The New Kingdom in Nubia: Lived Experience, Pharaonic Control and Indigenous Traditions. Peeters, Leuven.

Ryan, P. 2016. From raw resources to food processing; archaeobotanical, archaeological, and ethnographic insights from New Kingdom Amara West and present-day Ernetta Island in northern Sudan. In: Steel, L., Zinn, K., (eds.) Exploring the Materiality of Food “Stuffs”: Archaeological and Anthropological Perspectives. Routledge, Oxford, 15-38

Ryan,P. and Homewood, K. 2016, Sustainability and subsistence systems in a changing Sudan: ethnobotanical and archaeobotanical investigations into past, present and future crop choices. Project Report for the Sustainability and subsistence systems in a changing Sudan project. http://www.britishmuseum.org/pdf/project_report,_ryan_and_homewood.pdf

Ryan, P., Out, W.A., García-Granero, J.J., Madella M., Usai, D. 2016. Plant microremains from the white deposits and skeletons of Ghaba and R12 cemeteries. Identification and implications. In: Salvatori, S., Usai, D., Lecointe, Y., (eds.) Ghaba: an Early Neolithic cemetery in Central Sudan. Frankfurt, Africa Magna, 109-120.

Out, W.A, Ryan, P., García-Granero, J.J., Barastegui, J., Maritan,L.,  Madella, M. 2016 Plant exploitation in Neolithic Sudan: A review in the light of new data from the cemeteries R12 and Ghaba. QI, 412, 36-53.

Ryan P., Cartwright C. R. and Spencer N. 2016 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. 2016 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