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I am currently a Lecturer in Archaeological Modelling at Bournemouth University. I am also co-founder and co-editor of the Journal of Skyscape Archaeology and Secretary of the European Society for Astronomy in Culture (SEAC).
My primary research interest is how societies have perceived and conceived their environment and used that knowledge to time and adjust social, productive and magico-religious behaviours. This steered me to focus my research along two distinct yet complementary strands.
The first one involves the modelling and analysis of culture- and environmental-dependent dispersal dynamics, especially across large spatial and temporal scales. Large-scale dispersals have been a staple of archaeological research from its inception: typical examples include the spread of early hominids out of Africa, and the spread of domesticated crops and animal species through the whole world. That such dispersals occurred, as well as their timing, is largely well-established – less understood are their mode and dynamics. Open questions include: What were the underlying mechanisms driving these dispersals? Did climate change affect or motivate them? Did they involve population displacement, or did new technologies diffuse solely by trading? Were preferred dispersal routes chosen based on affinity to the originating environment, or affinity to mode of transport? What impact on indigenous populations (human and otherwise) did these dispersals have? What was the ecological impact of the introduction of new domesticates and new technologies to explore and use the landscape? I am especially interested in exploring these questions through the recovery of the dynamics of prehistoric human dispersals and technological diffusion via computational analysis of chronometric, material and palaeoenvironmental data... This requires lateral thinking with innovative computational approaches that, nevertheless, are acutely aware of the nature, uncertainties and other limitations of the available data.
The second of those strands focuses on more regional scales and explores the skyscape archaeology of late prehistoric monuments. Structures such as Stonehenge in Wiltshire and Newgrange in Ireland are famous for having had celestial alignments encoded into their architecture. This is the subject of much speculation surrounding their intent, purpose and symbolic meaning, with interpretations often blurring the lines between scholarship and fantasy. On this front, I am not so interested in identifying and collecting celestial alignments but in understanding how they can help us peek into the ontologies of past societies, i.e. into how they conceived the world and their place in it. For pre-modern societies, the motions of sun, moon and stars are fundamental to their understanding of the passage of time and the regular seasonality of the celestial objects makes them natural candidates for being associated to other, equally seasonal, socio-cultural activities such as subsistence strategies. By implication, the study of a society’s skyscape can reveal much about how they conceive their relation to the environment that surrounds them and, hence, also how they would have understood and reacted to climatic and environmental change and transformation. However, this aspect of skyscape archaeology remains largely untapped. Both skyscape and landscape archaeology, when done properly, can provide unique insights into past societies and their relatedness to the environment. This takes careful, robust and reflexive approaches to the archaeological record – both qualitative and quantitative – which I am keen to not only explore but also develop.
I welcome any student or collaborator wishing to pursue research that touches upon any of the above, or related, topics.more
- French, J.C., Riris, P., Fernandéz-López De Pablo, J., Lozano, S. and Silva, F., 2021. A manifesto for palaeodemography in the twenty-first century: Palaeodemography in the 21st Century. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 376 (1816).
- Vander Linden, M. and Silva, F., 2021. Dispersals as demographic processes: Testing and describing the spread of the Neolithic in the Balkans: Dispersals as demographic processes. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 376 (1816).
- Parracho Silva, F., 2020. Whither Skyscape Archaeology? Journal of Skyscape Archaeology, 6 (1), 108-113.
- Silva, F., 2020. A probabilistic framework and significance test for the analysis of structural orientations in skyscape archaeology. Journal of Archaeological Science, 118.
- Ferna´ndez-Lo´pez de Pablo, J., Gutie´rrez-Roig, M., Go´mez-Puche, M., McLaughlin, R., Silva, F. and Lozano, S., 2019. Palaeodemographic modelling supports a population bottleneck during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition in Iberia. Nature Communications, 10 (1).
- Murphy, C., Fuller, D.Q., Stevens, C., Gregory, T., Silva, F., Dal Martello, R., Song, J., Bodey, A.J. and Rau, C., 2019. Looking beyond the surface: Use of high resolution X-ray computed tomography on archaeobotanical remains. Interdisciplinaria Archaeologica, 10 (1), 7-18.
- Silva, F. and Vander Linden, M., 2018. Erratum to: Amplitude of travelling front as inferred from 14C predicts levels of genetic admixture among European early farmers (Scientific Reports, (2017), 7, 1, (11985), 10.1038/s41598-017-12318-2). Scientific Reports, 8 (1).
- Silva, F., Weisskopf, A., Castillo, C., Murphy, C., Kingwell-Banham, E., Qin, L. and Fuller, D.Q., 2018. A tale of two rice varieties: Modelling the prehistoric dispersals of japonica and proto-indica rices. Holocene, 28 (11), 1745-1758.
- Parracho Silva, F. and Vander Linden, M., 2018. Comparing and Modeling the Spread of Early Farming across Europe. PAGES magazine, 26 (1), 28-29.
- Figueiredo, A., Vilas-Estévez, B. and Silva, F., 2018. The Planning and Orientation of the Rego da Murta Dolmens (Alvaiázere, Portugal). Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 84, 207-224.
- Parracho Silva, F., 2018. Before the Celts: Cosmology, Landscape and Folklore in Neolithic Northwest Iberia. Culture and Cosmos, 22 (1), 29-45.
- Silva, F. and Vander Linden, M., 2017. Amplitude of travelling front as inferred from 14C predicts levels of genetic admixture among European early farmers. Scientific Reports, 7 (1).
- Parracho Silva, F., 2017. Inferring Alignments I: Exploring the Accuracy and Precision of Two Statistical Approaches. Journal of Skyscape Archaeology, 3 (1), 93-111.
- Stevens, C.J., Murphy, C., Roberts, R., Lucas, L., Silva, F. and Fuller, D.Q., 2016. Between China and South Asia: A Middle Asian corridor of crop dispersal and agricultural innovation in the Bronze Age. Holocene, 26 (10), 1541-1555.
- Roberts, P., Boivin, N., Petraglia, M., Masser, P., Meece, S., Weisskopf, A., Silva, F., Korisettar, R. and 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.
- Maeda, O., Lucas, L., Silva, F., Tanno, K.I. and Fuller, D.Q., 2016. Narrowing the harvest: Increasing sickle investment and the rise of domesticated cereal agriculture in the Fertile Crescent. Quaternary Science Reviews, 145, 226-237.
- Jordan, P., Gibbs, K., Hommel, P., Piezonka, H., Silva, F. and Steele, J., 2016. Modelling the diffusion of pottery technologies across Afro-Eurasia: Emerging insights and future research. Antiquity, 90 (351), 590-603.
- Brady, B., Gunzburg, D. and Silva, F., 2016. The orientation of cistercian churches in Wales: A cultural astronomy case study. Citeaux, 67 (3-4), 275-302.
- Silva, F., Stevens, C.J., Weisskopf, A., Castillo, C., Qin, L., Bevan, A. and Fuller, D.Q., 2015. Modelling the geographical origin of rice cultivation in Asia using the rice archaeological database. PLoS ONE, 10 (9).
- Silva, F., 2015. ‘Once upon a time…': When prehistoric archaeology and folklore converge. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 28 (2), 158-175.
- Silva, F. and Steele, J., 2014. New methods for reconstructing geographical effects on dispersal rates and routes from large-scale radiocarbon databases. Journal of Archaeological Science, 52, 609-620.
- Parracho Silva, F., 2014. A Tomb with a View: New Methods for Bridging the Gap between Land and Sky in Megalithic Archaeology. Advances in Archaeological Practice, 1 (2), 24-37.
- Russell, T., Silva, F. and Steele, J., 2014. Modelling the spread of farming in the bantu-speaking regions of africa: An archaeology-based phylogeography. PLoS ONE, 9 (1).
- Silva, F., Steele, J., Gibbs, K. and Jordan, P., 2014. Modeling spatial innovation diffusion from radiocarbon dates and regression residuals: The case of early old world pottery. Radiocarbon, 56 (2), 723-732.
- Parracho Silva, F., 2012. Landscape and Astronomy in Megalithic Portugal: the Carregal do Sal Nucleus and Star Mountain Range. Papers from the Institute of Archaeology, 22, 99-114.
- Silva, F. and Steele, J., 2012. Modeling boundaries between converging fronts in prehistory. Advances in Complex Systems, 15 (1-2).
- Silva, F. and Pimenta, F., 2012. The Crossover of the sun and the moon. Journal for the History of Astronomy, 43 (2), 191-208.
- Parracho Silva, F., 2010. Cosmology and the Neolithic: A New Survey of Neolithic Dolmens in Central Portugal. Journal of Cosmology, 9, 2194-2206.
- Silva, F.P. and Koyama, K., 2009. Self-accelerating universe in Galileon cosmology. Physical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology, 80 (12).
- Koyama, K., Padilla, A. and Silva, F.P., 2009. Ghosts in asymmetric brane gravity and the decoupled stealth limit. Journal of High Energy Physics, 2009 (3).
- Cardoso, A., Koyama, K., Seahra, S.S. and Silva, F.P., 2008. Cosmological perturbations in the DGP braneworld: Numeric solution. Physical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology, 77 (8).
- Koyama, K. and Silva, F.P., 2007. Nonlinear interactions in a cosmological background in the Dvali-Gabadadze-Porrati braneworld. Physical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology, 75 (8).
- Astronomy and Power How Worlds are Structured : Proceedings of the SEAC 2010 Conference. British Archaeological Reports.
- Skyscapes The Role and Importance of the Sky in Archaeology. Oxbow Books.
- SEAC 2011 Stars and Stones: Voyages in Archaeoastronomy and Cultural Astronomy. British Archaeological Reports.
- Parracho Silva, F., Pimenta, F. and Tirapicos, L., 2020. Symbolism and Archaeoastronomy in Prehistory. In: Sinha, C. and Gontier, N., eds. Oxford Handbook of Human Symbolic Evolution. Oxford University Press.
- Parracho Silva, F., 2019. On measurement, uncertainty and maximum likelihood in skyscape archaeology. In: Henty, L. and Brown, D., eds. Visualising Skyscapes Material Forms of Cultural Engagement With the Heavens. Routledge.
- Parracho Silva, F., 2015. The Role and Importance of the Sky in Archaeology: An Introduction. In: Parracho Silva, F. and Campion, N., eds. Skyscapes The Role and Importance of the Sky in Archaeology. Oxbow Books.
- Parracho Silva, F., 2015. The View from Within: a ‘Time-Space-Action’ Approach to Megalithism in Central Portugal. In: Parracho Silva, F. and Campion, N., eds. Skyscapes: The Role and Importance of the Sky in Archaeology. Oxbow Books.
- Silva, F. and Steele, J., 2015. Two-dimensional models of human dispersals: Tracking reaction-diffusion fronts on heterogeneous surfaces. Mathematics and Archaeology. 416-430.
- Liz Henty, 2020. Is archaeoastronomy a discipline? A critical examination of its history, its relationship with archaeology and its place in the British academy
- Ingrid O'Donnell. A multi-scalar examination of the potential cosmological significance in the Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments of Meirionnydd, mid-Wales, UK
- Pamela Armstrong. A diachronic study of monumentality and cosmology in mid-Holocene, Southern England and Wales.
- Tore Lomsdalen. Cosmology in the Maltese Prehistoric Temple Period
- Prehistoric Skyscapes: Astronomy, Landscape and Megalithism in western Iberia (National Geographic Society, 01 Jan 2012). Completed
- Journal of Skyscape Archaeology, Co-Founder and Co-Editor (2015-), http://equinoxpub.com/JSA/
- Fifth Carlos Jaschek Award for outstanding contributions to archaeoastronomy and cultural astronomy (European Society for Astronomy in Culture (SEAC), 2016)
External Media and Press
- Egyptian pyramids really were aligned with the compass points Read more: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2242740-egyptian-pyramids-really-were-aligned-with-the-compass-points/#ixzz6PieuIeoD, New Scientist, 07 May 2020. https://www.newscientist.com/article/2242740-egyptian-pyramids-really-were-aligned-with-the-compass-points/
- Chasing the Equinox (National Geographic documentary, National Geographic Channel, 01 Jan 2020. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/tv/shows/chasing-the-equinox
- Revolutions: The Ideas that changed the world (Episode 5: The Telescope), BBC Four (UK Channel), 20 Aug 2019. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00071ql
- Breakthrough: The Ideas that changed the world (Episode 1: The Telescope), PBS (USA TV channel), 31 May 2019. https://www.pbs.org/show/breakthrough-ideas-changed-world/
- Archaeo-astronomy meets archaeology, Times of Malta, 29 Mar 2017. https://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20170329/social/Archaeo-astronomy-meets-archaeology.643830
- These Ancient Tombs May Have Been Both Grave and Observatory, Smithsonian Magazine, 01 Jul 2016. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/these-ancient-tombs-may-have-been-both-grave-observatory-180959668/
- The prehistoric tombs that may have been used as 'telescopes', The Guardian, 30 Jun 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/jun/30/the-prehistoric-tombs-that-may-have-been-used-as-telescopes
- 6,000-year-old tomb may have been used as prehistoric telescope, CBS News, 30 Jun 2016. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ancient-tomb-may-have-been-used-as-prehistoric-telescope/
- Neolithic tombs were telescopes to view the stars, The Telegraph, 30 Jun 2016. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/06/29/neolithic-tombs-were-telescopes-to-view-the-stars/
- Prehistoric tombs may have doubled as star-gazing observatories, New Scientist, 30 Jun 2016. https://www.newscientist.com/article/2095597-prehistoric-tombs-may-have-doubled-as-star-gazing-observatories/
- Did Megalithic Tombs Double as Telescopes?, Archaeology Magazine, 30 Jun 2016. https://www.archaeology.org/news/4611-160630-megalithic-tomb-astronomy