Photo of Dr Eleni Asouti

Dr Eleni Asouti BA, MSc, PhD

Reader in Environmental Archaeology Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology


Personal Statement

I am a prehistorian and an environmental archaeologist researching the late Palaeolithic and Neolithic societies and landscapes of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East (especially the transition from foraging to farming, and agricultural origins). I also specialise in anthracology (charcoal science: the analysis of charred fuel wood and timber remains retrieved from archaeological sites). My research focuses on human palaeoecology in Southwest Asia during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition, investigating the management of terrestrial plant resources (grasses and trees) by prehistoric communities, the nature of regional community interactions, and the impacts of climate and environmental change on landscape ecology and economic decision-making. I have directed as PI the "Unfamiliar Landscapes Project: from foraging to farming in central Anatolia" (2013-2015) funded by the Leverhulme Trust. Since 2013 I have been directing the Eastern Fertile Crescent (EFEC) prehistory project, excavating and surveying late Palaeolithic and early Neolithic sites in the Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq, funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Wainwright Fund and the British Institute for the Study of Iraq. The EFEC project is a research collaboration with the Directorate of Antiquities in Sulaymaniyah. Its key objective is to investigate people-environment interactions and pre-agricultural plant management strategies in the hilly flanks of northwest Zagros between 20,000-8000 cal BC.

Research interests: charcoal science (anthracology); origins of agriculture; anthropogenic landscapes; hunter-gatherer archaeobotany; woodland management; late Palaeolithic-early Neolithic of southwest Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean; human palaeoecology; the evolution of human economic behaviours; semi-arid woodland and grassland palaeoecology; prehistoric nut crop management (Prunus/Amygdalus, Pistacia, Quercus)

PhD students:
Marvin Demicoli (AHRC)
Federico Poggiali (AHRC)
Leonardo Da Fonte (AHRC)
Mattia Cartolano (AHRC)
Jo-Hannah Plug
Ozlem Saritas

Visiting researchers:
Llorenç Picornell
Joeri Kaal

Postdocs hosted in the lab:
Dr Ceren Kabukcu (Leverhulme Early Career Fellow; current - Project title: "Before farming: prehistoric plant use in the Taurus-Zagros arc of Southwest Asia")
Dr Christina Collins (Leverhulme Trust Research Associate; "Unfamiliar Landscapes Project" - completed)
Dr Lee Bradley (Leverhulme Trust Research Associate; "Unfamiliar Landscapes Project" - completed)

The Liverpool Archaeobotany Laboratory comprises a research microscopy suite with stereo zoom microscopes, reflected/transmitted light (bright-/dark-field) microscopes, high-resolution and HD digital image capture equipment, a high-precision digital scale, desktop PCs with high-precision measurement and surface analysis software, and dedicated projection facilities. There is also access to a desktop SEM and an automated sputter coater, a specialist collection of botanical publications and identification manuals, and a reference collection comprising modern charred wood and seed, nut and fruit specimens primarily from the Middle East, and from Italy and Greece. These facilities support undergraduate, Masters, PhD and postdoc projects, alongside archaeobotanical consultancy work. The department also hosts a stable isotope analysis laboratory and a GIS suite. Email us at: