Patrick Roberts

As Group Leader of the Stable Isotope Laboratory, Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Patrick is committed to innovatively applying stable isotope methods to questions of past human climate, environment, diet and mobility. This has led him to publishing international peer-reviewed publications in a variety of archaeological research contexts: from reconstructing palaeoenvironmental conditions in East and South Africa, South Asia, and Saudi Arabia associated with Pleistocene human habitation of these regions to dietary complexities in 18th and 19th century historical populations.

Patrick’s main theoretical interest revolves around the importance of tropical forests to human history.
Once considered ‘pristine’ or ‘unattractive’ to pre-industrial human occupation we now know that they have a long and diverse history of interaction with populations of hunter-gatherers, farmers, and even urban dwellers. He has undertaken fieldwork around the tropical world and published a number of papers focusing on rehabilitating tropical forests as key sites of our global human story. Summarising this work, Patrick recently wrote the book, Tropical Forests in Prehistory, History, and Modernity, published with Oxford University Press.

Patrick also believes it is important that our understanding is brought to bear on the present and he has taken part in UNESCO symposia that bring together archaeologists and anthropologists, alongside policy makers and interest groups, to discuss potential solutions for the conservation of ecological and cultural heritage in global tropical forest environments. Patrick currently leads the ERC funded PANTROPOCENE project which seeks to determine when past human activities in tropical forests, particularly in the Philippine Archipelago, began to leave legacies for sustainability and landscape use in the 21st century.

More details can be found on his personal website.