About me

My principal research interests are the investigation of coupled human environment systems in Amazonia, plant domestication and the development of agricultural landscapes, and the emergence of complex societies in the Americas.

Professor José Iriarte

I am a Professor of Archaeology at the Department of Archaeology, University of Exeter, UK.

I am an Archaeologist and Archaeobotanist with a strong track record of research on human-environmental interactions, the peopling of the Americas, the development of agricultural economies, and the emergence of complex societies in lowland South and Central America.

I have extensive experience directing and participating in a wide range of international multidisciplinary projects integrating archaeology, archaeobotany, palaeoecology, palaeoclimate, soil science, remote sensing (Lidar), ancient DNA, and modern ecology across Latin America.

Recently, the work of my research group on lowland South American landscapes has documented the third global event of rice domestication in Amazonia (Nature Ecology and Evolution 2018), chartered unexplored regions of Amazonia documenting earth-building societies along its entire southern rim, predicting to have reached 5 million people in pre-Columbian times (Nature Communications 2018), revealed the lasting repercussions of polyculture agroforestry on Amazonian Dark Earths (PNAS 2014, Nature Plants 2018), assessed the role of climate in cultural developments across Amazonia (Nature Ecology and Evolution 2019) as well as the human footprint on the expansion of Araucaria forests in southern Brazil (Scientific Reports 2018).

I am currently directing the ERC LASTJOURNEY project investigating human dispersal in Earth’s last continental terra incognita. Over the previous 15 years, I have built a strong track record of externally funded research, including the ERC (PAST, FUTURES, and LASTJOURNEY), AHRC, Leverhulme Trust, National Geographic, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the British Academy, National Science Foundation (USA) and CNRS totalling about £ 5m.
The results of these projects have been published in more than 70 international peer-reviewed journals articles including, Nature, Nature Communications, Nature Ecology and Evolution, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Scientific Reports, Journal of Archaeological Science, Antiquity, among others.

I currently direct the University of Exeter Archaeobotany and Paleoecology Laboratory, and I am a member of the Centre for the Archaeology of the Americas and the HUMANE research group.

My research has extensive visibility in international media, including BBC, Channel 4, National Geographic, New Scientist, Scientific American. I was the archaeology consultant for the Jungle Mistery: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon’ series.

You can read my complete publication record at ORCID-ID

Work groups

University of Exeter
HumAnE Bioarchaeology