Dr. Andrea Ricci

Scientific Coordinator Cluster of Excellence ROOTS

Leibnizstr. 3, R. 118
Phone: +49 431 880 5871
Telefax: +49 431 880-5498




since 01.2019 Scientific Coordinator for the Cluster ROOTS Social Environmental and Cultural Connectivity in Past Societies Kiel University
2017-2018 Scientific Coordinator for the Cluster ROOTS proposal
2013-2016 Postdoctoral Research Assistant ANR & DFG project: Kura in Motion! Humans, plants and animals in the Middle Kura Valley, 6th to 3rd mill. BCE (DFG - GEPRIS) German Archaeological Institute (DAI), Eurasia Dept., Berlin, Germany
2011-2013 Graduate Assistant ANR & DFG - project: Frühe Kulturen im Südkaukasus: Umwelt, Ressourcen und Innovationen im Mittleren Kura-Tal vom 6. bis 3. Jt. v. Chr. (DFG - GEPRIS) German Archaeological Institute (DAI), Eurasia Dept., Berlin, Germany


Scientific education

2013 PhD in Pre- and Protohistory Kiel University, Germany
2009 MA Archaeology Durham University, UK
2007 MA Pre- and Protohistory of the Near East, University of Rome La Sapienza, Italy


Research and Projects

Keywords: Landscape Archaeology; Digital archaeology; Mobility; Social Complexity; Southwestern Asia

I situate my work at the intersection of digital humanities, landscape archaeology, and the archaeology of Southwestern Asia. Moving beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries, I apply a long-durée approach for the study of human-environment dynamics, Holocene cultural landscape transformations, the process of Neolithization, and the emergence of the first forms of social and economic complexity. Methodologically, I make extensive use of remote sensing data, including modern and historic satellite and aerial imagery, drone photography, and geophysical prospection, as well as GIS-based analyses and I combine them with intensive survey, excavations, material studies, as well as paleoenvironmental and historical studies. The main geographical focus of my research agenda comprises the Zagros Mountains of southwestern Iran, the southern Caucasus, and Northern Mesopotamia.


Holocene socio-cultural-environmental interactions along a highland altitudinal transect of the Zagros Mountains (Kohgiluyeh-e Boyer Ahmad Province, Southwestern Iran)

The project aims at reconstructing long-term socio-cultural-environmental dynamics and past changes in cultural landscape formation processes in the Zagros Mountains of Southwestern Iran. In particular, this study investigates past human settlement dynamics and mobility patterns, as well as identify strategies of past societies to cope with and react to changing environmental and political conditions. The project develops around a highly interdisciplinary three-pillared approach, including: 1) palaeoenvironmental; 2) archaeological investigations; 3) ethno-historical studies.

landscape valley

The highly mountainous Kohgiluyeh-e Boyer Ahmad Province is an ideal setting for this study. Here, it is possible to find very diverse environmental conditions within a limited horizontal distance. The presence of unexplored palaeoenvironmental and archaeological archives, as well as ethno-historical accounts offers excellent conditions to reconstruct past human settlement and connectivity over environmentally distinct sub-regions located at different elevations. With a focus ranging from the earliest phase of the Neolithic process to the age of the empires (ca. 9000 BCE-700 CE), the investigation combines the results of detailed studies in different environmental zones of the Kohgiluyeh-e Boyer Ahmad Province, in order to: a) acquire a vast and detailed Holocene palaeoenvironmental dataset from lake sediment archives for reconstructing changes in the vegetal, soil, and water resources; b) acquire new archaeological datasets and integrate them with the existing archaeological record to reconstruct regional population dynamics; c) identify the main forms of social organizations, the modes of subsistence and patterns of mobility in this specific region as derived from the analysis of written documents and ethnographic examples; d) correlate and integrate the above-mentioned records for a detailed reconstruction of past human-environmental dynamics. In a nutshell, this study aims to be a prototypical example of interdisciplinary research efforts to explore past socio-cultural-environmental interactions in the Zagros Mountains.

The project is part of the DFG SPP 2176 “Highlands Iran”. For more information on this initiative, please visit the SPP website here


  • Silvia Balatti, Institute für Klassische Altertumskunde, Kiel University (profile)

Cooperation Partner:

  • Ahmad Azadi, Research Institute of Cultural and Tourism (RICHT) Tehran (Iran)


Burial Mounds in the Southern Caucasus

Mapping the Kurgans of Uzun Rama Plateau, Central Azerbaijan (4th to 1st Millennium BCE)

The tradition of burying the dead in burial mounds (kurgans) is inscribed in the Southern Caucasus landscape. These mounds represent an ideal archive for the detection of developments of social inequalities between the fourth and the first millennium BCE.


In the framework of the joint project on Eurasian burial mounds of ‘ROOTS of Inequalities’ (link), this project investigates the Uzun Rama Plateau (Azerbaijan, Goranboy province), which is characterized by large communal kurgans dated to the Kura-Araxes period, as well as smaller mounds of the Late Bronze/Early Iron Age.

Initial survey and topographic investigation already documented 205 kurgans and first detailed topographic mapping along the northern margin of the plateau recorded the high dimensional and morphological variability of the kurgans.

The project will conduct further detailed topographic mapping and combine it with high-resolution geophysical investigations to record the dimensions of all preserved kurgans as well as the position and size of their internal chambers. Furthermore, this investigation will document the different mound morphologies, enabling us to suggest dating parameters. The work will offer a comprehensive and high-resolution record of a group of kurgans concentrated in a relatively small area, supporting the reconstruction of the local burial practices from the Early Bronze Age through the Iron Age.


  • Jutta Kneisel, Institute of Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology, Kiel University

Cooperation Partner:

  • Bakhtiyar Jalilov, Azerbaijan National Academy of Science, Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Baku(Azerbaijan)

Further cooperation

  • Nicola Laneri, Center for Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies (CAMNES), Florence (Italy).