Dr. Ricardo Fernandes

Research Group Leader
Department of Archaeology
+49 3641 686-728

Main Focus

Ricardo employs complex systems theory to better understand patterns of historical causation so that acquired knowledge can make a useful contribution to modern-day policymaking and risk analysis. Among others, he is investigating the impact of human agency in shaping historical trajectories, human-environmental interactions, the interplay between socioeconomic inequality and societal stability, and the emergence and spread of new technologies.

Ricardo is currently Group Leader in Systems Archaeology and head of the Radiocarbon, Computational Labs, and Biochemistry laboratories at the Department of Archaeology. His methodological research follows three main themes:

Big Historical Data. Ricardo founded and oversees the development of the Pandora & IsoMemo database networks. These follow a non-hierarchical distributive model under FAIR and CARE principles. To accelerate the process of data gathering Ricardo is also working on artificial intelligence methods employed to retrieve data from unstructured sources.

Scientific analysis of material remains. Fundamental research on radiocarbon and single compound isotopic methods aims at improving the diversity and quality of information that can be retrieved from archaeological materials. These methods are then applied to diachronically reconstruct past human lifeways, productive activities, and paleo-environmental/climatic conditions.

Modelling and machine learning. Novel open-source modelling tools are developed to analyse historical data and made available via the Pandora & IsoMemo software platform. In particular, Bayesian modelling is employed to build complex hierarchical models able to integrate diverse sources of information. Data-driven and hypothesis-driven approaches are both employed to investigate historical causation. This includes the use of a variety of machine learning methods.

Curriculum Vitae

Ricardo Fernandes has a Bachelor's degree in Physics from Porto University (Portugal) and a Master’s degree in Geoarchaeology with a Minor in Mediterranean and Near East Archaeology from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam (The Netherlands). He concluded summa cum laude his Ph.D. in Natural Sciences at the University of Kiel (Germany).


Peyroteo Stjerna R., Simões L.G., Fernandes R., Lopes G., Günther T., Jakobsson M. (2022). Multidisciplinary investigation reveals an individual of West African origin buried in a Portuguese Mesolithic shell midden four centuries ago. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2022.103370

Jarosz A., Robbeets M., Fernandes R., Takamiya H., Shinzato A., Nakamura N., Shinoto M., Hudson M. (2022). Demography, trade and state power: a tripartite model of medieval farming/language dispersals in the Ryukyu Islands. Evolutionary Human Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1017/ehs.2022.1

Izdebski A., et al. (2022). Palaeoecological data indicates land-use changes across Europe linked to spatial heterogeneity in mortality during the Black Death pandemic. Nature Ecology & Evolution. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-021-01652-4

Fernandes R., Sponheimer M., Roberts. P. (2022). TOOTSIE: presenting a dataset and a preliminary meta-analysis of Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy indices from archaeological and palaeontological tooth enamel. Quaternary International. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2022.01.010

Goldstein S.T., Farr J., Kayuni M., Katongo M., Fernandes R., Janzen A., Markham B., Crowther A., Boivin N. 2022. Excavations at the Iron Age village site of Fibobe II, Central Zambia. Journal of African Archaeology. https://doi.org/10.1163/21915784-bja10012

Robbeets, M. et al. 2021. Triangulation Supports Agricultural Spread of the Transeurasian Languages. Nature. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-04108-8

Wilkin, S. et al. 2021. Dairying Enabled Early Bronze Age Yamnaya Steppe Expansions. Nature 598(7882): 629–33. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03798-4

García-Escárzaga A., Gutiérrez-Zugasti I., Cuenca-Solana D., González-Morales M.R., Hamann C., Roberts P., Fernandes R. 2021. Bayesian estimates of marine radiocarbon reservoir effect in northern Iberia during the Early and Middle Holocene. Quaternary Geochronology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quageo.2021.101232

Sołtysiak A., Fernandes R. 2021. Much ado about nothing: assessing the impact of the 4.2kya event on human subsistence patterns in northern Mesopotamia using stable isotope analysis. Antiquity. https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2021.117

Cocozza C., Fernandes R. 2021. Tooth formation age dataset for early childhood bioarchaeological and medical studies. Data in Brief. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dib.2021.107141

Cocozza C., Fernandes R. 2021. Amalthea: A Database of Isotopic Measurements on Archaeological and Forensic Tooth Dentine Increments. Journal of Open Archaeology Data. https://doi.org/10.5334/joad.75

Fernandes R., Hudson M.J., Takamiya H., Bassino J.-P., Uchiyama, J., Robbeets M. 2021. The ARCHIPELAGO Archaeological Isotope Database for the Japanese Islands. Journal of Open Archaeology Data. https://doi.org/10.5334/joad.73

Torres-Martínez J.F., Fernández-Götz M., Domínguez-Solera S., Martínez-Velasco A., Vacas-Madrid D., Serna-Gancedo M., Cabanillas de la Torre G., Galiano M., Fernandes R. 2021. ‘Invisible Burials’ and Fragmentation Practices in Iron Age Europe: Excavations at the Monte Bernorio Necropolis (Northern Spain). Journal of Field Archaeology. https://doi.org/10.1080/00934690.2021.1924435

Takken Beijersbergen L.M., Fernandes R., Mørkved P.T., Hufthammer A.K. 2021. Temporal and spatial variability of bone collagen stable carbon and nitrogen isotopic ratios of Norwegian reindeer. Journal of Archaeological Science Reports.

Wang X., Roberts P., Tang Z., Yang S., Storozum M., Groß M., Fernandes R. 2021. The Circulation of Ancient Animal Resources Across the Yellow River Basin: A preliminary Bayesian re-evaluation of Sr isotope data from the Early Neolithic to the Western Zhou Dynasty. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2021.583301

Cocozza C., Fernandes, R., Ughi, A., Groß, M. and Alexander, M.M. 2021. Investigating Infant Feeding Strategies at Roman Bainesse through Bayesian Modelling of Incremental Dentine Isotopic Data. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology. https://doi.org/10.1002/oa.2962

Nerlich A.G., Lehn C., Horn P., Bachmeier B., Hagedorn H., Szeimies U., Holzl S., Rocker P., Fernandes R., Hamman C., Rohrbach H 2021. Interdisciplinary scientific studies of Adalbert and Otkar founders of the Tegernsee Monastery (original in German). In: Sommer C.S. (ed.), Die Kirche St. Quirinus in Tegernsee und ihr Stiftergrab. Schriftenreihe des Bayerischen Landesamtes für Denkmalpflege, 25. pp. 93-128.


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