Professor José Iriarte is an environmental archaeologist and archaeobotanist with a specialism in phytolith and starch grain analyses. He has a strong track record of research into human-environment interactions, the emergence of complex societies and the development of agricultural economies in lowland South and Central America. He has extensive experience in directing and participating in a wide range of international projects in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, French Guiana, Mexico and Uruguay.
The multi-proxy, cross-disciplinary nature of these projects, which integrate archaeology, palaeoecology, soil science and botany, has allowed Professor Iriarte to explore pre-Columbian coupled human and environment systems in depth. The projects have provided clearer evidence on the timing and nature of the human impact on tropical and subtropical ecosystems.
Professor Iriarte’s past research has been funded by AHRC, NERC, ERC, Leverhulme Trust, National Science Foundation (USA), National Geographic, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the British Academy and CNRS (France). The results of these studies have been published in Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), Journal of Archaeological Science, Quaternary Research, Antiquity and World Archaeology, amongst other international peer-reviewed journals. He directs the University of Exeter (UK) Archaeobotany and Paleoecology Laboratory, which houses a modern reference collection of more than 750 specimens of phytoliths and starch grains from lowland South America.
Professor Iriarte currently supervises four post-doctoral researchers, five PhD students and one MA student working in different parts of Latin America including Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. For more information please visit his personal webpage.