About me

José Iriarte currently directs the ERC project PAST 'Pre-Columbian Amazon-Scale Transformations' and 'Je Landscapes of Southern Brazil: Ecology, Power and History in a transitional landscape during the Late Holocene' co-funded by AHRC and FAPESP. He is an archaeologist and archaeobotanist with a strong track record of research on human environmental interactions 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 multidisciplinary projects in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, French Guiana, Mexico and Uruguay. The multi-proxy, cross-disciplinary nature of his projects, which integrate archaeology, palaeoecology, soil science, and modern ecology, has allowed him to explore human environmental interactions in depth and have provided clearer evidence on the timing and nature of human impact on tropical and subtropical ecosystems. For example, it has evidenced that the coastal Guianan landscapes are neither purely natural nor purely man-made, but rather are hybrid landscapes resulting from the interactions of pre-Hispanic farmers and natural processes (PNAS, Journal of Archaeological Science, 2010). More significantly, it has revealed a unique perspective on land use before and after Europeans arrived to the Americas in 1492. It showed that, in contrast to tropical forest contexts where the collapse of indigenous populations after 1492 led to decrease forest clearance for agriculture, fires in these Amazonian savannas are a post-Columbian phenomenon. By also revealing that pre-Columbian raised-field farmers limited fire, this research has offered a fresh perspective on an emerging alternative approach to savannah land use and conservation that can help reduce carbon emissions (PNAS 2012). Similarly, by  synthesizing previous paleoecological and archaeological records and using GIS predictive survey, geophysical survey techniques, and excavation, he has established how the expansion of Araucaria forest during the late Holocene in the southern Brazilian highlands under wetter climatic conditions is associated with a more intense occupation of this region by southern proto-Je groups. The first results of this study have been published in Environmental Archaeology and Antiquity. (See my complete list of publications in my CV and Google citations). His research has been funded by European Research Council, Arts and Humanities Research Council, National Science Foundation (USA), Leverhulme Trust, National Geographic, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the British Academy and CNRS. The results of his projects have been published in more than 25 international peer-reviewed journals articles  including, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Journal of Archaelogical Science, Antiquity, Quaternary Research and  World Archaeology among others. He directs the University of Exeter Archaeobotany and Paleoecology Laboratory, the only European archaeobotanical laboratory which has the expertise to carry out microfossil botanical analysis of phytoliths and starch grain analyses in the Neotropics. He is developing a strong research group at Exeter and has built up a modern reference collection of more than 750 specimens of phytoliths and starch grains from lowland South America. 

 

 

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José Iriarte
Professor of Archaeology

Phone: +44 (0) 1392 264513
Fax: +44 (0) 1392 264358
Email: J.Iriarte@exeter.ac.uk

© 2012 | José Iriarte | Professor of Archaeology
Department of Archaeology, College of Humanities University of Exeter
314 Laver Building, North Park Rd, Exeter, EX4 4QE, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 1392 264513/ Fax: +44 (0) 1392 264358 http://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/archaeology/staff/iriarte/

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