Professor Marijke van der Veen

Prof Marijke Van der Veen.jpg

Emeritus Professor of Archaeology

Kandidaats, Doctoraal (Groningen), M.A., Ph.D. (Sheffield), FSA



I studied History and Archaeology at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, and undertook the MA in Economic Archaeology and my PhD in Archaeobotany at the University of Sheffield. After working at Durham University for five years as the English Heritage advisor of environmental archaeology for northern England, I joined the School of Archaeology & Ancient History at Leicester in October 1992 and was promoted to Professor of Archaeology in 2005.

I am an archaeologist specialising in archaeobotany, the archaeology of human-plant interactions, using the botanical remains found on excavations as my primary data.

My work can be broadly divided into two areas. Within archaeobotany and the wider field of archaeological science I have used archaeobotanical information to address important archaeological questions about the social, cultural and economic dimensions of our past, and here I have advocated a rigorous scientific approach to data and numerical analyses. Secondly, within archaeology, I have worked in the fields of Iron Age, Roman and Medieval Britain, Roman and Medieval Egypt and North Africa and published large data sets from key interdisciplinary projects, the results of which have in each case substantially altered our thinking on the subject.

A number of interrelated research themes run throughout my work. Thematically these include ‘seeds of change’ (the impact of trade and introduction of foodstuffs; globalisation), agricultural strategies (scales of food production, agricultural innovation), food consumption and identity (luxury foods, differential social access to food), and the materiality of plants (impact of plants on our lives; different modes of being). Methodologically my work has advanced the discipline through key papers on sampling strategies, quantitative multivariate analyses, weed ecology, and formation processes of charred and desiccated plant remains.

I have been fortunate enough to participate in several major international research projects: UNESCO Save Carthage project, UNESCO Libyan Valleys Project, Mons Claudianus Project, Mons Porphyrites Project, Quseir al-Qadim project (see under research themes).

I was a member of the Editorial Board of the international journal World Archaeology from 2000-2010, during which time I edited three of its issues (Luxury Foods 2003; Garden Agriculture 2005; Agricultural Innovation 2010), and I was Associate Editor of the international journal Vegetation History and Archaeobotany from 2005-2017.

Selected Recent Publications

Van der Veen, M. 2018. Archaeobotany: the archaeology of human-plant interactions. In Scheidel, W. (ed) The Science of Roman History. Biology, Climate, and the Future of the Past. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, pp. 53-95.

Van der Veen, M. and Morales, J. 2017. Food globalisation and the Red Sea: new evidence from the ancient ports at Quseir al-Qadim, Egypt. In Agius, D.A., Khalil, E., Scerri, E.M.L. and Williams, A. (eds) Human Interaction with the Environment in the Red Sea. Selected Papers of Red Sea Project VI. Leiden: Brill, pp. 254-289.

Van der Veen, M. and Morales, J. 2015. The Roman and Islamic spice trade: New archaeological evidence. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 167: 54-63. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2014.09.036

Van der Veen, M. 2014. The materiality of plants: plant-people entanglements. World Archaeology 46(5): 799-812.

Van der Veen, M. 2014. Arable farming, horticulture, and food: expansion, innovation, and diversity in Roman Britain. In M. Millett, L. Revell and A. Moore (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Roman Britain. Oxford, OUP.

Van der Veen, M., Hill, A. and Livarda, A. 2013. The archaeobotany of Medieval Britain (c AD 450–1500): identifying research priorities for the 21st century. Medieval Archaeology 57, 151-182.

Cover Consumption Trade and Innovation





2011 (Van der Veen, M.)  Consumption, Trade and Innovation: Exploring the Botanical Remains from the Roman and Islamic Ports at Quseir al-Qadim, Egypt.  Frankfurt: Africa Magna Verlag. ISBN 9783937248233. (Table of Contents).


Van der Veen, M. 2010  Plant remains from Zinkekra - early evidence for oasis agriculture. In D. J. Mattingly (ed.) The Archaeology of Fazzan. Vol. 3: Excavations of C. M. Daniels. London: Society for Libyan Studies, Department of Antiquities, pp. 489-519.

Van der Veen, M. 2010. Agricultural innovation: invention and adoption or change and adaptation? World Archaeology 42(1): 1-12.  URL:

Van der Veen, M. 2008. Food as embodied material culture – diversity and change in plant food consumption in Roman Britain. Journal of Roman Archaeology 21: 83-110.

Cox, A. and Van der Veen, M. 2008. Changing foodways: watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) consumption in Roman and Islamic Quseir al-Qadim, Egypt. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 17 (suppl. 1): 181-189.

Van der Veen, M., Livarda, A. and A. Hill, A. 2008. New food plants in Roman Britain – dispersal and social access. Environmental Archaeology 13(1): 11-36.

Van der Veen, M. 2007. Formation processes of desiccated and carbonised plant remains - the identification of routine practice. Journal of Archaeological Science 34: 968-990.

Van der Veen, M., Livarda, A. and Hill, A. 2007. The archaeobotany of Roman Britain – current state and identification of research priorities. Britannia 38: 181-210.

Van der Veen, M. and Tabinor, H. 2007. Food, fodder and fuel at Mons Porphyrites: the botanical evidence. In V. A. Maxfield and D. P. S. Peacock (eds.) Survey and Excavation at Mons Porphyrites 1994-1998. Volume 2: The Excavations. London, Egypt Exploration Society, pp. 83-142.

Van der Veen, M. and Jones, G. 2007. The production and consumption of cereals: a question of scale. In C. Haselgrove and T. Moore (eds.) The Later Iron Age of Britain and Beyond. Oxford, Oxbow, pp. 419-429.

See Publications for a full list.

Share this page: