Dr. Rita Dal Martello

Postdoctoral Researcher
Department of Archaeology
FEDD Research Group

Main Focus

Rita Dal Martello is a post-doctoral research fellow for the “Fruits of Eurasia: Domestication and Dispersal” (FEDD) project, funded by the European Research Council. She is currently based at the Department of Archaeology at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

Dr. Dal Martello specializes in the analysis of ancient plant remains as the first line of evidence to investigate past subsistence practices, with a geographical focus on China and Central Asia.

Her main research interests focus on understanding the development of complex agrarian societies along early contact and trade routes during late prehistoric and early historic times. More broadly, she is interested in agricultural and culinary traditions along ecological frontier zones. She is also interested in tracing the spread of crops outside their domestication centres and how the movement of plants and people impacted changes in agricultural societies through time and space, with special attention to the production and consumption of local minor crops.

Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Dal Martello received her PhD in 2020 in Archaeology from University College London, UK. She investigated the timing and development of agricultural systems in the frontier region of Yunnan, Southwest China. Her doctorate research addressed debates on rice and other crops dispersal within South China and beyond.

During her PhD, she contributed to the “Comparative Pathways to Agriculture” (ComPag) ERC-funded project (2013-2018), which aimed to create a global comparative synthesis of early agricultural systems based on archaeobotanical data. 

She holds a MA degree in Neolithic Archaeology from the School of Archaeology and Museology at Peking University, China, where she focused on the early contacts between the Chinese Central Plains and the Steppes, investigating the nature of these across the Eurasian continent during Neolithic times. She also holds a BA in Language, Culture and Society of East Asia from Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy. 



Dal Martello R (in review) The origins of multi-cropping agriculture in Southwest China: Archaeobotanical insights from third to first millennium B.C. Yunnan. Asian Archaeology

Xue, YN, Dal Martello R (joint first author), L Qin, CJ Stevens, R Min, and DQ Fuller (2022). Post-Neolithic broadening of agriculture in Yunnan, China: Archaeobotanical evidence from Haimenkou. Archaeological Research in Asia: 30: 100364.

Dal Martello R, Li, XR and D Q Fuller (2021) “Two-season agriculture and irrigated rice during the Dian: archaeobotanical results and radiocarbon dates from Dayingzhuang, Yunnan, Southwest China”. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 13, 62.  doi.org/10.1007/s12520-020-01268-y

Murphy C, DQ Fuller, CJ Stevens, T Gregory, F Silva, R Dal Martello, A Bodey, C Rau (2019) “Looking Beyond the Surface: Use of High-Resolution X-Ray Computed Tomography on Archaeobotanical Remains”. Interdisciplinaria Archaeologica Natural Sciences in Archaeology: 10 (1). 

Dal Martello R, et al (2018) “Early Agriculture at the crossroads of China and Southeast Asia: archaeobotanical evidence and radiocarbon dates from Baiyangcun, Yunnan”. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 20: 711-721.  doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2018.06.005

Selected conference papers and invited lectures

20 May, 2021. Invited speaker, University of Zurich. Lecture title: “The origins and dispersal of Trans-Eurasian cereal crops: perspectives from archaeobotany.”

June 24, 2019. Invited speaker, From Villages to Cities: Agricultural Production and Settlement Growth in Eastern Eurasia, International Centre for Chinese Heritage and Archaeology (ICCHA) Symposium, University College London. Paper title: “Agricultural Production in Yunnan from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age”.

June 3-8, 2019. IWGP International Working Group for Palaeoethnobotany conference, Lecce, Italy. Poster: “Agricultural trajectories in Southwest China: introduction and local plant use in Yunnan”.

April 29, 2019. Invited speaker, Asian Archaeology Seminar Series, Cambridge University. Paper title: “Tracing the spread of agriculture and local plant use innovation in Yunnan, Southwest China”.

October 29, 2018. Invited speaker, Asian Archaeology Seminar Series, Oxford University. Paper title: “Exploring Agricultural Pathways in Southwest China: archaeobotanical material from early sites”.

September 23-28, 2018. The Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association IPPA 21st Congress, Hue, Vietnam. Paper title: “Comparing the agricultural pathways of India and Southwest China: similarities and differences between crops and agricultural practices in distinct geographies”. Co-presented with Dr. Eleanor Kingwell-Banham.

August 3-6, 2018. Invited speaker, Current Frontiers in the Archaeobotany of Rice International Workshop, Beijing, China. Paper title: “Rice mixed economies in Southwest china: insights from weed flora”.

June 7-12, 2018. SEAA Society for East Asian Archaeology 8th Worldwide Conference, Nanjing, China. Paper title: “Recent developments on the spread of agriculture to Southwest China: a comparative analysis of archaeobotanical, remains, ecology and climate in Yunnan”.

December 1-3, 2017. AEA Association for Environmental Archaeology annual conference, Edinburgh, UK. Poster: “How can agriculture adapt to diverse environments? A case study from Yunnan, Southwest China”.

June 8-12, 2016. SEAA Society for East Asian Archaeology 7th Worldwide Conference, Cambridge-Boston, USA. Paper title: “Archaeobotanical Results from Baiyangcun site, Yunnan: exploring agricultural practices in Southwest China”.

April 15-19, 2015. SAA Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, USA. Paper title: “Rethinking Qijia Burial Practice”.

Research Projects

Fruits of Eurasia: Domestication and Dispersal (FEDD) project

Prunus Archaeological Research, Investigation and Survey (PARIS)

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