Alison Weisskopf (1960-2018)

Alison staff profile 2017

Alison passed away on 11 January 2018. She was a core member of the Early Rice Project since its initiation in 2009. Her research and analyses will continue to inform our projects outputs and out understanding of rice in the past.


Research Associate, NERC-funded project 'The impact of intensification and deintensification of Asian rice production: transitions between wet and dry ecologies' (2016-2019)  (= Early Rice Project 3)

Research Associate, NERC-funded project 'The Impact of Evolving of Rice Systems from China to Southeast Asia' (2013-2016) (= Early Rice Project 2)

Alison outstanding in rice field

Research Associate, British Academy small grant project 'Pinpointing paddies: exploring the potential of diatom data in identifying early rice arable practices" (2012-2013)

Research Associate, NERC-funded project 'The Identification of Rice in Prehistory' (2009-2012) (= Early Rice Project 1)

Research Interests

Archaeobotany; specialising in phytolith research with focus on the development of agricultural systems: data analysis in phytolith research

Environmental archaeology, food pathways, ethnobotany, economic botany

Asian Archaeology

Alison and fans in Assam

Diatom analysis

Educational Background

PhD, University College London (Awarded 2010)Thesis title: Vegetation, agriculture and social change in Neolithic north central China, a phytolith study

MSc Palaeoecology of Human Societies, University College London (Distinction, 2005)Thesis title: An investigation of the Neolithic ash mound and settlement at Sanganakallu in the south Deccan, India, using phytoliths and macro-archaeobotanical material

BSc Archaeology (Hons), University College London (2003)Dissertation title: A study of the phytoliths from

 the late Bronze Age site of Krasnoe Smarskoe, Samara Valley, Russia, and the information they provide on agro pastoral economies and environments

Academic Affiliations

Association for Environmental Archaeology; International Society for Phytolith Research;  Society for East Asian Archaeology; Society of Ethnobiology; Society for Economic Botany; Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology

Alison plant collecting



Weisskopf, A.R. (2014). Millets, Rice and Farmers Phytoliths as indicators of agricultural and social change in Neolithic and Bronze Age Central China. British Archaeological Reports, Oxford.


Weisskopf, A. (2017). A wet and dry story: distinguishing rice and millet arable systems using phytoliths. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 26 (1), 99-109. doi:10.1007/s00334-016-0593-8

Rosen, A., Macphail, R., Liu, L., Chen, X., Weisskopf, A. (2017). Rising social complexity, agricultural intensification, and the earliest rice paddies on the Loess Plateau of northern China. Quaternary International, 437 50-59. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2015.10.013

Piper, P.J., Nguyen, K.T.K., Tran, T.K.Q., Wood, R., Cobo Castillo, C., Weisskopf, A., ...Mijares, A.S.B. (2017). The Neolithic settlement of Loc Giang on the Vam Co Dong River, southern Vietnam and its broader regional context. Archaeological Research in Asia, 10 32-47. doi:10.1016/j.ara.2017.03.003

Alison and Katie Manning on ethnographic fieldwork in Thailand

Weisskopf, A. (2016). Elusive wild foods in South East Asian subsistence: Modern ethnography and archaeological phytoliths. Quaternary International, doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2016.09.028

Weisskopf, A. (2016). Millets and Herders The Origins of Plant Cultivation in Semiarid North Gujarat (India) Comment. CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY, 57 (2), 169-170.

Fuller, D.Q., Weisskopf, A.R., Castillo, C. (2016). Pathways of Rice Diversification across Asia. Archaeology International, 19 84-96.

Roberts, P., Boivin, N., Petraglia, M., Masser, P., Meece, S., Weisskopf, A., ...Fuller, D.Q. (2016). Local diversity in settlement, demography and subsistence across the southern Indian Neolithic-Iron Age transition: site growth and abandonment at Sanganakallu-Kupgal. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 8(3): 575-599, doi:10.1007/s12520-015-0240-9

Weisskopf, A.R., Lee, G.-.A. (2016). Phytolith identification criteria for foxtail and broomcorn millets: a new approach to calculating crop ratios. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 8(1), 29-42 doi:10.1007/s12520-014-0190-7

At Huizui with Arlene Rosen and Gyoung-Ah Lee


Deng, Z., Qin, L., Gao, Y., Weisskopf, A., Zhang, C., Fuller, D. (2015). From Early Domesticated Rice of the Middle Yangtze Basin to Millet, Rice and Wheat Agriculture: Archaeobotanical Macro-Remains from Baligang, Nanyang Basin, Central China (6700-500 BC). PLoS One, 10 (10), doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0139885

Silva, F., Stevens, C.J., Weisskopf, A., Castillo, C., Qin, L., Bevan, A., Fuller, D.Q. (2015). Modelling the Geographical Origin of Rice Cultivation in Asia Using the Rice Archaeological Database. PLOS ONE, 10 (9), doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0137024

Weisskopf, A., Qin, L., Ding, J., Ding, P., Sun, G., Fuller, D. (2015). Phytoliths and rice: from wet to dry and back again in the Neolithic Lower Yangtze. Antiquity, 89 (347), 1051-1063. doi:10.15184/aqy.2015.94

Ball, T., Chandler-Ezell, K., Dickau, R., Duncan, N., Hart, T.C., Iriarte, J., ...Madella, M. (2015). Phytoliths as a tool for investigations of agricultural origins and dispersals around the world. Journal of Archaeological Science, 68 32-45. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2015.08.010

Weisskopf, A., Deng, Z., Qin, L., Fuller, D.Q. (2015). The interplay of millets and rice in Neolithic central China: Integrating phytoliths into the archaeobotany of Baligang. Archaeological Research in Asia, 4 36-45. doi:10.1016/j.ara.2015.10.002

Alison Dorian Ellie and Mukund India 2010

Weisskopf, A.R., Harvey, E., Kingwell-Banham, E., Kajale, M., Mohanty, R., Fuller, D. (2014). Archaeobotanical implications of phytolith assemblages from cultivated rice systems, wild rice stands and macro-regional patterns. Journal of Archaeological Science, 51, 43-53. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2013.04.026

Fuller, D.Q., van Etten, J., Manning, K., Castillo, C., Kingwell-Banham, E., Weisskopf, A., ...Hijmans, R.J. (2011). The contribution of rice agriculture and livestock pastoralism to prehistoric methane levels: An archaeological assessment. The Holocene, 21 (5), 743-759. doi:10.1177/0959683611398052

Fuller, D.Q., Weisskopf, A. (2011). The Early Rice Project: From Domestication to Global Warming. Archaeology International, 13/14: 44-51, doi:10.5334/ai.1314

Edwards, Y., Weisskopf, A., Hamilton, D. (2010). Age, taphonomic history and mode of deposition of human skulls in the River Thanes. Transactions London and Middlesex Archaeological Society, 35-51.

Fuller, D.Q., Sato, Y.I., Castillo, C., Qin, L., Weisskopf, A.R., Kingwell-Banham, E.J., ...van Etten, J. (2010). Consilience of genetics and archaeobotany in the entangled history of rice. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 2 115-131. doi:10.1007/s12520-010-0035-y

Liu, L., Field, J., Weisskopf, A., Webb, J., Jiang, L.-.P., Wang, H.-.M., Chen, X. (2010). The Exploitation of Acorn and Rice in Early Holocene Lower Yangzi Rive, China. Acta Anthropologica Sinica, 29 (3), 317-336.

Anthony, D.W., Brown, D., Brown, E., Goodman, A., Kokhlov, A., Kosintsev, P., ...Peterson, D. (2005). The Samara valley project: Late bronze age economy and ritual in the Russian steppes. Eurasia Antiqua, 11 395-417.

Alison and Charlene Murphy on fieldwork


Fuller, D., Castillo, C., Kingwell-Banham, E., Qin, L., Weisskopf, A.(2018).Charred pomelo peel, historical linguistics and other tree crops: approaches to framing the historical context of early Citrus cultivation in East, South and Southeast Asia. In Zech-Matterne, V. and Fiorentino, G. (Eds.), ARGUMED: Archaeology and History of the citrus fruit from the Far East to the Mediterranean.introductions, diversifications, uses. Naples: Centre Jean Bérard. Pp. 29-48

Weisskopf, A., Rosen, A. (2016)  Phytoliths from the Krasnosamarskoe Settlement and its environment. In Anthony, DW, Brown DR, Mpchalow OD, Khokhlov AA, Kuznetsov PF (Eds.) A Bronze Age Landscape in the Russian Steppes. The Samara Valley Project. Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press, Los Angeles. Pp. 351-372.

Weisskopf, A., Fuller, D. (2013). Apricot: origins and development. In Smith, C. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. (pp. 294-296). Springer.

Fuller, D., Weisskopf, A. (2013). Barley: origins and development. In Smith, C. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. (pp. 763-766). Springer.

Weisskopf, A., Fuller, D. (2013). Buckwheat: origins and development. In Smith, C. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. (pp. 1025-1028). Springer.

Weisskopf, A., Fuller, D. (2013). Citrus fruits: origins and development. In Smith, C. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. (pp. 1479-1483). Springer.

Weisskopf, A., Fuller, D. (2013). Peach: origins and development. In Smith, C. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. (pp. 5840-5842). Springer.

Alison Western Ghats horizon 2010

Ryan, P., A. Weisskopf, S. A. Rosen (2011) Sediments and Microartifacts from the Camel Site. In Rosen, S. A. (Ed.) An Investigation into Early Desert Pastorlaism. Excavations at the Camel Site, Negev. Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press, Los Angeles. Pp. 155-166

Weisskopf, A. (2009). Agricultural Crop Choices and Social Change in the Yellow River, North Central China during the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age. In Food and Drink in Archaeology 2. (pp. 100-109). Totnes, England: Prospect.