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Department of Archaeology



I am an archaeologist working primarily in North and East Africa.

After a B.A. in Egyptology and Nubian Studies, I received M.A. in Archaeology (African Prehistory), Specialization Degree, and then Ph.D. in Archaeology (Prehistory) (2021) at Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.  

From 2006 I have been involved in numerous archaeological campaigns both in Italy and abroad (Tunisia, Kenya etc.) embracing different chrono-cultural entities, from prehistory to medieval time periods. I currently continue following my main fieldwork activities and develop my research interest revolving around North African and Sahara prehistory with a particular attention to also archeological theory and computational methods.


My research focuses on North and East African Holocene archaeology, especially regarding the definition of local chronologies, social complexity, and material culture. I am particularly interested into early pottery traditions, both in terms of chrono-typologies and technology, as well as the study of site formation processes as proxies for understanding socio-economic dynamics among prehistoric populations. I also have a broad interest in funerary archaeology and the anthropology.

My research project (EHSCAN) specifically focuses on exploring the underlying factors driving the diffusion of technological innovations in North Africa during the Early Holocene. By employing a comprehensive analysis of archaeological data via statistical and computational modelling, I will seek to uncover the networks of interaction, mobility, and exchange that influenced the socio-economic activities and identities of hunter-gatherer-fisher communities in the Sahara during the Early Holocene. In a wider perspective my research interests revolve around the study of the mechanisms behind variations in material culture and examine the intra-cultural variability in later prehistory. 

Key Publications

Key publications: 


- Rotunno, R. Africa, North. Eastern Sahara. Encyclopedia entry for Encyclopedia of Archaeology, 2nd edition, Elsevier. 10.1016/B978-0-323-90799-6.00143-9

- Rotunno, R., Cavorsi, L., di Lernia, S. A Holocene ceramic sequence in the Central Sahara: pottery traditions and social dynamics seen from the Takarkori rock shelter (SW Libya). African Archaeological review, DOI. 10.1007/s10437-023-09534-9 


- Eramo, G., Muntoni, I.M., Aprile, A., Pallara, M., Rotunno, R., Zerboni,A. & di Lernia S. (2020). Networking through pottery characterisation at Takarkori rock shelter (Libyan Sahara, 10,200–4650 cal BP). Archaeological Anthropological Science 12, 220. DOI: 10.1007/s12520-020-01118-x 
- Rotunno, R., Mercuri, A. M., Florenzano, A., Zerboni, A., & di Lernia, S. (2020). The Visibility of Mobility: Coprolites, Dung and Neolithic Herders in Central Saharan Rock Shelters. Environmental Archaeology, 1-16. DOI: 10.1080/14614103.2020.1777057 
- Monaco, A., Belhouchet, L., Bel Hadj Brahim, H., Ben Fraj, T., Ben Nasr, J., Boussoffara, R., Cancellieri, E., Jnen, M., Lucci, E., Rotunno, R., di Lernia, S. (2020). Megalithic Structures of the northern Sahara (Chott el Jérid, Tunisia). CASTER, 5. DOI: 10.13125/caster/4078 
- Casanova, E., Knowles, T.D.J., Bayliss, A., Dunne, J., Baranski, M.Z., Denaire,A., Lefranc, A., di Lernia, S., Roffet-Salque, M., Smyth J., Barclay, A., Gillard, T., Claßen, E., Coles, B., Ilet, M., Jeunesse, C., Krueger, M., Marciniak, A., Minnit,S., Rotunno, R., van de Velde, P., van Wijk, I., Cotton, J., Daykin, A., & Evershed, R.,P. 2020. Accurate compound-specific 14C dating of archaeological pottery vessels. NATURE 580, 506–510. DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2178-z 


Rotunno, R., Mercuri, A.M., Florenzano, A., Zerboni, A., di Lernia, S. 2019. Coprolites from Rock Shelters: Hunter-Gatherers “herding” Barbary Sheep in the Early Holocene Sahara. Journal of African Archaeology 17. DOI: 10.1163/21915784-20190005 

Job Titles

Marie Sklodowska-Curie European Fellow, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research

General Info

Not available for consultancy
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Material Culture
Archaeological Theory
Computational and Quantitative Archaeology
Cultural Evolution

Contact Details

West Building
McDonald Institute for Archaeological Reserach


Person keywords: 
Cultural Adaptation
Environment, Landscapes and Settlement
Material Culture
Geographical areas: 
Egypt and Sudan
Periods of interest: 
Other Late Prehistory