Professor Marijke Van der Veen

Emeritus Professor of Archaeology

School/Department: Archaeology and Ancient History, School of

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 2720



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 retired in 2015 but am still active in research and publication.


I am an archaeologist specialising in the archaeology of human-plant interactions using the botanical remains found on excavations as my primary data. I have used these data 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. My foci have been: Iron Age, Roman and Medieval Britain;  Roman and Medieval Egypt and North Africa; and publishing large data set the results of which have in each case substantially altered our thinking on the subject. Several interrelated research themes run throughout my work. Thematically, these include ‘seeds of change’ (the impact of trade and the 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). I have also published on methodological issues, notably on sampling strategies, quantitative multivariate analyses, weed ecology and formation processes. 


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., Bouchaud, C., Cappers, R. and Newton, C. 2018. Roman Life in the Eastern Desert of Egypt: Food, Imperial Power and Geopolitics. In Brun, J.-P., (ed) The Eastern Desert of Egypt during the Greco-Roman Period: Archaeological Reports [online]. Paris: College de France, 2018  ISBN: 9782722604889. DOI: 10.4000/books.cdf.5252.

Van der Veen, M. and Morales, J. 2015. The Roman and Islamic spice trade: new archaeological evidence. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 167: 54-63.

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

Van der Veen, M. 2011. 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.

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

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: 83-109.

Van der Veen, M. 2003. When is food a luxury? World Archaeology 34(3): 405-427.

Van der Veen M. 1992. Crop Husbandry Regimes. An Archaeobotanical Study of Farming in Northern England: 1000 BC - AD 500. Sheffield, JR Collis Publications.

Van der Veen, M. and Fieller, N. 1982. Sampling Seeds. Journal of Archaeological Science 9: 287-298.    



I am retired and no longer taking PhD students.


I am retired and no longer teaching.

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