Institute of Archaeology


Nick Ryan Bursary Award for Giacomo Fontana

1 May 2023

Giacomo Fontana (UCL Institute of Archaeology PhD researcher), is the recipient of this year's Nick Ryan Bursary Award (CAA).

Man crouching on a hillside beside the remains of a wall

Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA) is an international organisation bringing together archaeologists, mathematicians, and computer scientists.

To honour the work of its longstanding chair Nick Ryan, CAA International supports the annual Nick Ryan Bursary Award which recognises the best student paper presented at the annual conference. 

Communities organized in hillfort sites were common in many upland areas lacking urban centres worldwide. However, we still need a robust understating of hillforts' roles in the organisation of non-urban complex societies. Giacomo Fontana's research investigates this through a quantitative computational approach, shedding new light on the forms of non-urban state formation at the core of the Mediterranean. 

After competing against 60 other candidates, Giacomo's paper titled 'A Quantitative and Transferable Multi-scale Approach for the Study of Hillfort Communities' was recently awarded the Nick Ryan Bursary by the CAA. The award will cover Giacomo's expenses for attending the next CAA conference in Auckland, New Zealand. 

According to Giacomo:

UCL Institute of Archaeology's unique worldview prompted me to go beyond regional boundaries and examine different cultural contexts when modelling and interpreting my data. This allowed me to challenge the prevailing classical view dominating the research in the area and explore how models and theoretical frameworks developed elsewhere provide a better explanation for the data."

Hilly landscape view, one of which has a hillfort at the top

Part of the approach developed by Giacomo has recently been published open-source, including data and code, in the Journal of Field Archaeology and the Journal of Archaeological Sciences. His research has also been featured in Archaeology Magazine last October. 

Follow Giacomo's research on Twitter at @Giacomo_Arch and Github at github.com/Giacomo-Arch

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