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Department of Archaeology



I am an archaeologist with diverse experience in geoarchaeology and landscape historical ecology in sub-Saharan Africa.

Following a BA (Hons) in Oriental Studies and postgraduate studies in geoarchaeology (MPhil & PhD, Cantab), I have held teaching and research posts in the UK, Spain, Italy, South Africa, and Denmark. I have conducted field research in Ethiopia, Tanzania, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Sardinia (Italy).

My main research interests are in landscape historical ecology, resource practices, and geoarchaeology of tropical environments. Before returning to Cambridge, I was Assistant Professor in Archaeology at UrbNet, Aarhus University.  

I am currently involved in field projects exploring: i) resource uses and ecosystem services at Great Zimbabwe; ii) resource landscapes of urban transition in Zanzibar; iii) Iron Age landscapes in SW Zambia.

As the A. G. Leventis Fellow in African Archaeology, I am developing new research on water security and urban landscapes in sub-Saharan Africa.


I am currently engaged in the following research and training projects:

  • From 2016: The long-term history of water and land management at Great Zimbabwe, with Innocent Pikirayi (Pretoria).
  • From 2017: Urban ecology and transitions in the Zanzibar archipelago with Stephanie Wynne-Jones (York), and in collaboration with UrbNet (Aarhus) [].
  • From 2015: Geoarchaeological survey and analyses on Iron Age settlement and landscapes in the Kafue River floodplain, SW Zambia, with Jeffrey Fleisher (Rice), Matthew Pawlowicz (Virginia Commonwealth University), and Katherine de Luna (Georgetown).


Other publications: 

Edited volumes

  1. Sulas F., French K., Scarborough V. 2020. Water and ancient cities: urban supply system. Special collection with editorial, WIREs Water  7/4 [].
  2. Sulas F. & Pikirayi I. (eds.) 2018. Water and societies from ancient times to the present: Resilience, decline, and revival. Routledge, 402p.
  3. Serreli G., Melis R. T., French C., Sulas F. (eds.) 2017. Sa massaria: Ecologia storica dei sistemi di lavoro contadino in Sardegna, 2 Vols. Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, 1040p.
  4. Sulas F. (guest editor) 2011. Africa’s fragile heritages. Special issue, African Archaeological Review 28/1, 97p.


Articles & chapters

  1. Isendahl C., Smith M. L., Stark M. T., Sulas F., Barthel S. (in press) Urban Ecology in the Ancient Tropics: Foodways and Urban Forms. In I. Douglas et al. (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Urban Ecology, 2nd ed. Routledge.
  2. Sulas F. & Pikirayi I. (in press) From Centre–Periphery Models to Textured Urban Landscapes: Comparative Perspectives from Sub-Saharan Africa. Journal of Urban Archaeology 1 (Golden OA).
  3. Sulas F., Kristiansen S. M., Wynne-Jones S. 2019. Soil geochemistry, phytoliths and artefacts from an early Swahili daub house, Unguja Ukuu, Zanzibar. Journal of Archaeological Science 103: 32–45.
  4. Sulas F. 2019. Review of: Erika Guttmann-Bond. Reinventing Sustainability: How Archaeology Can Save the Planet (Oxford & Philadelphia: Oxbow 2019). European Journal of Archaeology 22:4, 588–591. DOI: 10.1017/eaa.2019.51.
  5. Sulas F. 2019. Soils, plants and texts: An archaeologist’s toolbox. In C. Isendahl and D. Stump (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Historical Ecology and Applied Archaeology, Oxford University Press.
  6. Sulas F. & Pikirayi I. 2018. Water and societies: an introduction. In F. Sulas and I. Pikirayi (eds.), Water and societies, pp. 1–14. Routledge.
  7. Sulas F. 2018. Traditions of water in the highlands of the northern Horn of Africa. In F. Sulas and I. Pikirayi (eds.), Water and societies, pp. 155–175. Routledge.
  8. Sulas F. 2018. Aksum, Environmental Archaeology (in). In C. Smith (ed.), Encyclopaedia of Global Archaeology, 2nd ed. (with updated entry). Springer.
  9. Sulas F. Landscapes, archaeology and identity in Sardinia. In L. Gallinari (ed.), E pluribus unum: The Sardinian identity-making profile from the Middle Ages to Modernity, pp. 17–29. Peter Lang.
  10. Sulas F. & Wynne-Jones S. 2018. Defining space in house contexts: chemical mapping at Unguja Ukuu, Zanzibar. In R. Raja and S. Sindbæk (eds.), UrbNet Network Evolutions, pp. 263–270. Aarhus University Press.
  11. Melis R. T., French C., Marriner N., Montis F., Serreli G., Sulas F., Vacchi M. 2018. 8000 years of coastal changes on a western Mediterranean island. Marine Geology 403: 93−108.
  12. French C., Sulas F., Petrie C. 2017. Expanding the research parameters of geoarchaeology. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 9:1613–1626.
  13. French C., Sulas F., et al. 2017. Evoluzione del paesaggio e insediamento nel bacino del Rio Posada. In G. Serreli et al. (eds.), Sa massaria, Vol. 1, pp. 81‒114. Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche.
  14. Melis R. T., French C., Sulas F. et al. 2017. Geoarcheologia e storia nel territorio di Las Plassas. In G. Serreli et al. (eds.), Sa massaria, Vol. 1, pp. 116‒144. Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche.
  15. Serreli G. & Sulas F. 2017. Il castrum Marmillae: un castello di confine e presidio delle risorse agricole arborensi. In G. Damiani and R. Florino (eds.), Military Landscapes, pp. 398–399. Skira.
  16. Sulas F., Fleisher J., Wynne-Jones S. 2016. Geoarchaeology of urban space in tropical island environments. Journal of Archaeological Science 77: 52‒63.
  17. Pikirayi I., Sulas F., Musindo T. T., Chimwanda A., Chikumbirike J., Mtetwa E., Nxumalo B., Sagiya E. M. 2016. Great Zimbabwe's water. WIREs Water 3: 195–210.
  18. Fleisher J. & Sulas F. 2015. Deciphering public spaces in urban contexts. Journal of Archaeological Science 55: 55‒70.
  19. Melis R., Sulas F., French C. 2015. Shaping the Mediterranean basin. E-book of the Mediterranean Geoarchaeology Workshop, UniCA Open Journals:
  20. Sulas F. 2014. Aksum: Water and urbanization in northern Ethiopia. In T. Tvedt and T. Ostigaard (eds.), A History of Water, From Jericho to Cities in the Seas, pp. 171−195. I. B. Tauris.
  21. Sulas F. 2014. Aksum, Environmental Archaeology (in). In C. Smith (ed.), Encyclopaedia of Global Archaeology, pp. 129−134. Springer.
  22. Sulas F. 2014. Developing intra-site geoarchaeology at Songo Mnara, Tanzania. In I. Thiaw and H. Bocoum (eds.), Preserving African Cultural Heritage. University Cheikh Anta Diop Press.
  23. Sulas F. 2014. Review of: Foundations of an African Civilization by D. W. Phillipson [Woodbridge, 2012, pp. 293]. African Affairs 113/453: 622−623.
  24. Sulas F., Wynne-Jones S., Spence K. 2011. Africa’s Fragile Heritages: Introduction. African Archaeological Review 28/1: 1–3.
  25. Sulas F. & Madella M. 2012. Archaeology at the micro-scale. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 4/2: 145−159.
  26. Semicola L & Sulas F. 2012. Continuità e cambiamento nel paesaggio rurale di Aksum: dati archeologici, etnografici e paleoambientali. In A. Bausi et al. (eds.), Aethiopica et Orientalia. Studi in onore di Yaqob Beyene, pp. 549−573. University of Naples.
  27. Sulas F. 2011. Review of: Antica Africa by B. E. Barich [Rome, 2010, pp. 432]. Antiquity 85: 680.
  28. Sulas F., Madella M., French C. 2009. State formation and water-resource management in the Horn of Africa. World Archaeology 41/1: 2−15.
  29. French C., Sulas F., Madella M. 2009. New geoarchaeological investigations of the valley systems in the Aksum area of northern Ethiopia. Catena 78/3: 218−233.
  30. Sulas F. 2009. Sviluppo e archeologia in Etiopia: note da Aksum. In M. G. Melis (ed.), Uomo e Territorio, pp. 134−140. University of Sassari.
  31. Phillipson L., Sulas F. 2005. Cultural continuity in the Aksumite lithic tool production. Azania 15: 1−18.
  32. Bard K. A., DiBlasi M. C., Fattovich R., Manzo A., Perlingieri C., Phillipson L., Sulas F., Tilia S. 2001. The IUO and BU Archaeological Expedition at Bieta Giyorghis (Aksum): 2002 Field season. Nyame Akuma 57: 2−6.



  1. Wynne-Jones S., Fitton T., Sulas F., Lisowski M., Alexander M. 2020. Report on fieldwork conducted at Unguja Ukuu by the Urban Ecology and Transitions in the Zanzibar Archipelago Project (UETZAP) September–October 2019 . York & Cambridge, 26p.
  2. Sulas F., Nicosia C., Pesci S., Kristiansen S. M. 2019. Soil micromorphology in medieval Odense: Report. Aarhus [for Odense By Museer, Denmark], 68p.
  3. Sulas F., Kristiansen S. M. 2018. Soil micromorphology at the Viking-Age ring-fortress of Borgring, Denmark. Aarhus [for: Borgring Project], 29p.
  4. Sulas F., Pikirayi I. 2018. Archaeological investigations and fieldschool at Chenga and surroundings, Great Zimbabwe, July 2018: Interim Report. Aarhus [for: National Monuments and Museums of Zimbabwe], 29p.
  5. Wynne-Jones S. & Sulas F. 2018. Archaeological Fieldwork at Unguja Ukuu, Zanzibar, July 2017: Interim Report. Aarhus: AU Library Scholarly Publishing Services - E-books, doi: 10.7146/aul.276.191.
  6. Sulas F., French C., Melis R. T. 2015. Ricognizione geoarcheologica nel territorio di Las Plassas, Maggio 2015. Cagliari [for: Las Plassas Town Council, Italy].
  7. Sulas F., Pikirayi I., Sagiya M. E., Nxumalo B. Geoarchaeological survey and soil sampling at Great Zimbabwe, July 2015. Pretoria [for: National Monuments and Museums of Zimbabwe].
  8. Pawlowicz M., de Luna K., Fleisher J., McIntosh S., Sulas F. 2015. Preliminary Report of the 2014 and 2015 Field Seasons of the Bantu Mobility Project in Zambia. Richmond, VA [for: National Heritage Commission and Livingstone Museum, Zambia].
  9. Sulas F., Pikirayi I. 2014. Geoarchaeology and water history at Great Zimbabwe, June 2014. Pretoria [for: National Monuments and Museums of Zimbabwe], 12p.
  10. Sulas F., Pikirayi I., Nxumalo B. 2014. Geoarchaeological survey and soil sampling in the Mapungubwe, South Africa. Pretoria [for: South African Heritage Research Agency and SANParks, South Africa].
  11. Sulas F., Antonite A., Chauke C. 2013. Geoarchaeological reconnaissance of the Mapungubwe landscape, South Africa. Pretoria [for: South African Heritage Research Agency and SANParks, South Africa].
  12. French C., Sulas F. 2013. Further geoarchaeological reconnaissance of Sophiana, Sicily, and its immediate environs, September 2013. Cambridge.
  13. French C., Sulas F. 2012. Geoarchaeological reconnaissance of Sofiana environs, Sicily. Cambridge.
  14. Stump D., Sulas F. 2011. The long-term history of agriculture and conservation practices in Konso, Ethiopia: 2010 field season. York [for: Authority for Heritage Research and Conservation of Ethiopia].
  15. Sulas F. 2010. Geoarchaeology at Songo Mnara, Tanzania: soil and phytolith analyses. Cambridge [for: Universities of Rice and York].
  16. Sulas F. 2010. Archaeological soil micromorphology at Ranaka, Botswana. Cambridge [for: University of Botswana, Botswana].


Posters for academic and public dissemination

  1. Sulas F., Kristiansen S. M., Stott D. 2018. Multi-scalar geoarchaeology and Viking landscapes:A bottom-up approach to Borgring. Environmental Archaeology Conference, 29 November–1 December 2018, Aarhus, Denmark.
  2. Sulas F., Wynne-Jones S. 2017. Urban transitions in the Zanzibar archipelago / ITAMBUWE MIJI YA KWANZA YA UNGUJA [for: local and regional antiquity departments, museums and displays at Unguja Ukuu village].
  3. Sulas, F., Melis R. T., French C. et al. 2015. River history and settlement patterns in Sardinia: Integrative geoarchaeology in the Rio Posada Basin, GeoMedIslands International Colloquium, 30 June–July 2, Cargèse, France.
  4. Melis R. T., Sulas F. 2015. Upland environment and human occupation in Bronze Age Sardinia: Geomorphology and soil micromorphology at Nuraghe Ruinas, Developing International Geoarchaeology, 9–12 June, Alghero, Italy.
  5. Lang C., Kabora T., Thorton-Barrett S., Marchant S., Wainwright J., Bateman M. D., Westerberg L.-O., Sulas F. 2014. Engaruka 2014: Water management, crop repertoire and sediment transport, African Archaeology Research Day, 22–23 November, Bristol, UK.
  6. Sulas F., Pikirayi P. 2012. Collapse of ancient societies: Geoarchaeology at Great Zimbabwe. Pretoria [for: National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe].
  7. Stump D., Sulas F. 2010. The long-term history of indigenous agriculture and conservation practices in Konso/Yärägäm gize Tarik balälabet yäkonso hebrata säb yähägar baqal gobrna seranä märet ʿatäbabaq tnar. Addis Ababa [for: Regional Tourism and Communication Offices, Aswasa and Konso wareda, Ethiopia].
  8. Sulas F., Madella M., French F. 2008. Agriculture and water resources at Aksum, Society of African Archaeologists Meeting, 7–11 September 2008, Frankfurt.

Other Professional Activities

Associate Editor, WIREs Water (Wiley Interdisciplinary Research Reviews)

Member, Scientific Steering Committee, IHOPE (Integrated History and Future of the People on Earth)


Job Titles

Senior Research Associate, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research

General Info

Available for consultancy
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Environmental Archaeology, Geoarchaeology, and Landscape studies

Contact Details

The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research Downing Street


Person keywords: 
Historical ecology
Environment, Landscapes and Settlement
Geographical areas: 
Periods of interest: 
Iron Age
Other Historical
Other Late Prehistory