Institute of Archaeology

Prof Dorian Fuller

Prof Dorian Fuller

Professor of Archaeobotany

Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square

Institute of Archaeology

Joined UCL
1st Jan 2000

Research summary

I am an archaeologist and a botanist, employing botanical methods to answer archaeological questions, especially about past subsistence, the origins and evolution of agriculture, and the evolution of plants under domestication. I have a wider interest in human-environment interactions, including how societies have dealt with climate change and how climate drivers, such as greenhouse gases, have been produced through prehistoric human activities. I also ponder how long-term cultural traditions, such as cooking traditions, have shaped the evolution of crops and economies, and how cultural traditions can be understood through combining archaeological evidence with historical linguistics. I have also contributed to the integration of archaeology and genetics, especially with regards to plant and animal domestication.

     I have worked widely in archaeobotany and archaeological field projects across the Old World, in parts of Africa, and across Asia.  I have been actively engaged in fieldwork projects in many parts of India (since 1997), China (since 2004), Sudan (since 1997), Turkey (since 2011), Iraqi Kurdistan (since 2014), as well as field projects in Thailand, Myanmar, Morocco, Ethiopia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. I have cultural historical expertise on Nubia and India. My fieldwork has focused mostly on systematic archaeobotanical sampling of archaeological sites aimed to fill in some of the many regional and temporal gaps in direct evidence for past agriculture.  I take as my mission the larger task of helping to fill the major gaps in knowledge of early agriculture in the Old World throughout Asia and Africa. Meanwhile another key mission is to provide support, training and encouragement to the continued development of archaeobotanical laboratory methods, aimed at improving identification of plant macro-remains, as well as the integration of macro-remains with phytolith data. I have therefore supervised doctoral research projects on archaeobotany covering wide geographical and chronological breadth.

     One major recent project has been the NERC-funded Early Rice Project (2009-2019), which has improved methods and evidence for the evolution and spread of rice agricultural systems throughout Asia, and how these have impacted social and environmental change. Another major project has been the ERC-funded "Comparative Pathways to Agriculture Project" (2013-2018).


Teaching summary

Archaeobotanical methods and theory, Early Agriculture, Domestication, geographical patterns in human food traditions and culinary culture over the long term, human modification of environments over the long term, links between archaeology and historical linguistics, the culture history of Nubia/Sudan, the culture history of India (prehistoric/ proto-historic)


University of Cambridge
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 2000
University of Cambridge
Other higher degree, Master of Philosophy | 1997
Yale University
First Degree, Bachelor of Arts | 1995


Grew up in San Francisco, California. Educated at Yale University (BA, 1995) and Cambridge (MPhil, PhD). PhD completed in 2000. I began full time teaching at UCL in January 2000. Promoted from Lecturer to Reader in 2009 and subsequently Professor. (2012).