Philip Riris

Dr Philip Riris

  • Senior Lecturer in Archaeological/(Paleo) Environmental Modelling
  • Christchurch House C134, Talbot Campus, Fern Barrow, Poole, BH12 5BB
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I am a Lecturer in Archaeological & Palaeoenvironmental Modelling at the Institute for the Modelling of Socio-Environmental Transitions. Previously I held postdoctoral fellowships at the UCL Institute of Archaeology.

I earned my PhD in 2015 from the University of Southampton, focusing on long-term patterns of hunter-gatherer land use in northern Argentina. I specialize in the archaeology and historical ecology of tropical South America, with a focus on quantitative analyses and computational modelling. I have conducted fieldwork in Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, and Oman.

My two principal areas of research focus on: 1) coupled human-environmental systems, and 2) computational approaches to rock art and sacred landscapes. I maintain an especial interest in spatial analysis and agent-based modelling, drawing especially on physical geography, quantitative ecology, and complex adaptive systems to understand past human societies. Recently, I have focused on the interface between climate change and ancient demography...



Journal Articles

  • Lozada-Mendieta, N., Riris, P. and Oliver, J.R., 2022. Beads and Stamps in the Middle Orinoco: Archaeological Evidence for Interaction and Exchange in the Atures Rapids from AD 1000 to 1480. LATIN AMERICAN ANTIQUITY.
  • Lombardo, U., Riris, P. et al., 2022. Evidence confirms an anthropic origin of Amazonian Dark Earths. Nature Communications, 13 (1).
  • Silva, F. et al., 2022. Developing Transdisciplinary Approaches to Sustainability Challenges: The Need to Model Socio-Environmental Systems in the Longue Durée. Sustainability (Switzerland), 14 (16).
  • Riris, P. and de Souza, J.G., 2021. Formal Tests for Resistance-Resilience in Archaeological Time Series. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 9.
  • Riris, P. and Silva, F., 2021. Resolution and the detection of cultural dispersals: development and application of spatiotemporal methods in Lowland South America. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 8 (1).
  • Arroyo-Kalin, M. and Riris, P., 2021. Did pre-Columbian populations of the Amazonian biome reach carrying capacity during the Late Holocene?: Amazonian pre-Columbian demography. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 376 (1816).
  • 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).
  • de Souza, J.G. and Riris, P., 2021. Delayed demographic transition following the adoption of cultivated plants in the eastern La Plata Basin and Atlantic coast, South America. Journal of Archaeological Science, 125.
  • Riris, P., 2020. Spatial structure among the geometric earthworks of western Amazonia (Acre, Brazil). Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 59.
  • Riris, P., 2019. Sparse Radiocarbon Data Confound Culture-Climate Links in Late Pre-Columbian Amazonia. QUATERNARY, 2 (4).
  • Riris, P. and Oliver, J., 2019. Patterns of Style, Diversity, and Similarity in Middle Orinoco Rock Art Assemblages. ARTS, 8 (2).
  • Riris, P. and Arroyo-Kalin, M., 2019. Widespread population decline in South America correlates with mid-Holocene climate change. Sci Rep, 9 (1), 6850.
  • Riris, P., 2018. Dates as data revisited: A statistical examination of the Peruvian preceramic radiocarbon record. JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL SCIENCE, 97, 67-76.
  • Riris, P., 2018. Assessing the impact and legacy of swidden farming in neotropical interfluvial environments through exploratory modelling of post-contact Piaroa land use (Upper Orinoco, Venezuela). HOLOCENE, 28 (6), 945-954.
  • Riris, P., Oliver, J.R. and Mendieta, N.L., 2018. Missing the point: re-evaluating the earliest lithic technology in the Middle Orinoco. R Soc Open Sci, 5 (6), 180690.
  • Riris, P., 2017. On confluence and contestation in the Orinoco interaction sphere: the engraved rock art of the Atures Rapids. ANTIQUITY, 91 (360), 1603-1619.
  • Riris, P., 2017. Towards an artefact's-eye view: Non-site analysis of discard patterns and lithic technology in Neotropical settings with a case from Misiones province, Argentina. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 11, 626-638.
  • Mendieta, N.L., Oliver, J. and Riris, P., 2016. Archaeology in the Atures Rapids of the Middle Orinoco, Venezuela. ARCHAEOLOGY INTERNATIONAL, 19, 73-77.
  • Riris, P. and Corteletti, R., 2015. A New Record of Pre-Columbian Engravings in Urubici (SC), Brazil using Polynomial Texture Mapping. Internet Archaeology, 38.
  • Riris, P. and Romanowska, I., 2014. A reconstructed reduction sequence for curved bifacial stone tools from the eastern La Plata basin, Argentina. Lithics, 35, 5-17.


  • Riris, P., 2016. Monumentality and territoriality in intermediate societies: An example from the eastern La Plata basin. In: Goepfert, N., Vasquez, S., Clement, C. and Christol, A., eds. LAS SOCIEDADES ANDINAS FRENTE A LOS CAMBIOS PASADOS Y ACTUALES: Dinámicas territoriales, crisis, fronteras y movilidades. Paris: Instituto Francés de Estudios Andinos (IFEA), Laboratoire d'Excellence Dynamiques Territoriales et Spatiales, 287-231.


  • Connected Communities: Network approaches to rock art in lowland South America (British Academy, 01 Sep 2018). Completed
  • Ancient Networks of Art: towards a relational study of pre-Columbian iconography across the Orinoco Interaction Sphere (Sainsburys Research Unit, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, 01 Jan 2017). Completed

External Responsibilities

  • UCL Institute of Archaeology, Honorary Research Fellow (2018)
  • Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas, Visiting Collaborator (2015-2017)
  • Instituto Nacional de Antropología y Pensamiento Latinoamericano, Foreign Investigator (2013)

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External Media and Press