Dr Gianni Gallello
Marie Curie Research Fellow

Profile

Biography

Gianni was awarded his PhD in Archaeology in 2014 by the University of Valencia (Spain) majoring in archaeological science. In his dissertation he developed innovative methodological proposals for the study of archaeological soil and human remains, employing novel sampling strategies, Rare Earth Elements, major and trace element analysis and multivariate statistics. The capability to act consistently has helped to provide the support to present new methodological proposals for a set of heterogeneous and diachronic archaeological materials.

During the last six years his research activity has been focused on the chemical analysis of soils, human remains, stones, mortars and ceramics, testing new methodological approaches to overcome some of the most significant problems facing the archaeological community in the sphere of ancient human activity fingerprinted in the soil, post-mortem bone contaminations, lithic material origins, the raw material origins of mortar and provenance of ceramics.

Gianni has a background in analytical chemistry and a wide range of practical and analytical skills acquired working across the disciplines of Archaeology and Biology (Pisa University, Italy) and Analytical  Chemistry (Valencia University, Spain). Significant results from his PhD and subsequent postdoctoral research have been published in high impact journals. He is committed to disseminating his research as widely as possible and was invited to present his research at the 3rd International Conference on Forensic Research and Technology in the USA (2014), and the 8th Fachtagung Phantobild in Germany (2015).  

Gianni has significant experience in transmitting his ideas supervising undergraduate students in Archaeology at Pisa University and Chemistry undergraduates at the University of Valencia.

Research

Overview

MATRIX  Project

A Marie SkÅ‚odowska-Curie European Fellowship, funded by the European Commission (Horizon2020). 

The aim of the innovative Marie SkÅ‚odowska-Curie MATRIX project is to establish a new interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary methodological approach that combines archaeology, chemistry and geology for the identification of anthropogenic deposits in archaeological excavations through rare earth elements (REE) soil analysis, pushing current limitations of traditional chemical and sedimentology techniques. REE are a set of seventeen elements in the periodic table, specifically fifteen lanthanides as well as scandium and yttrium. Crucially, these elements are relatively abundant in the earth’s crust and thanks to their characteristics can be employed as unambiguous markers of soil provenance on archaeological sites worldwide.

Many techniques may be able to reveal ancient human activities, however, integrated approaches can be reinforced by the employment of REE patterns as proven by Gianni's previous and ongoing research; an approach that does not merely observe coarse differences between anthropogenic and non-anthropogenic sediments, but is also able to see finer nuances such as the degree of human contribution to the formation of ancient soils (palaeosols), adding new ways to tackle a classic archaeological problem that has increasing modern relevance: how do we discern the impact of ancient human activities on the soils that are a pivotal component of environmental and economic sustainability?

Human agricultural activities and the effects of livestock are reflected with higher or lower REE concentrations compared with the natural REE soil level. This is most likely related to the enrichment of the soil through organic matter. This transformation remains fingerprinted in the REE concentrations at stratigraphic levels of any chronological period. Thus, in both archaeological and modern sites, where the presence of human activities has changed the natural landscape, the analysis of REE provides an optimum method to clarify the stratigraphic impact in the soil as well as the dynamics of soil occupation and abandonment.

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Contact details

Dr Gianni Gallello
Marie Curie Research Fellow
Department of Archaeology
University of York
King's Manor
York
YO1 7EP

External activities

Memberships

Gianni is a member of the Evaluation Committee for the Department of Archaeology at Pisa University, Italy.

In 2014 he founded the ArchaeChemis group (www.uv.es/archaechemis) at the University of Valencia. ArchaeChemis was designed as a chemical analysis unit for research and technology transfer aimed at both research groups and non-academic organisations engaged in the study of the past. Throughout ArchaeChemis Gianni led a variety of projects including a study of the state of stone conservation at Persepolis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the pioneering archaeometric studies at Sagunto Castle, Spain. 

Gianni is keen to further integrate his skills in chemistry and chemometrics within the wider archaeological community.