Dr Gianna Ayala


Department of Archaeology

Lecturer in Geoarchaeology

On Study Leave for Semester 2

Dr Gianna Ayala
Profile picture of Dr Gianna Ayala
+44 114 222 2935

Full contact details

Dr Gianna Ayala
Department of Archaeology
Room D07
Minalloy House
10-16 Regent Street
S1 3NJ

I am a trained prehistorian with over twenty years of excavation and field survey experience. Over the last 14 years much of my work has focussed on landscape archaeology and geoarchaeological analysis in order to answer important questions about human history.

I studied for my undergraduate degree in archaeological science at the University of Texas at Austin and MA in prehistory at the Università di Roma, La Sapienza during which I gained fieldwork experience in the Mediterranean and specifically Italy working on international archaeological field projects spanning a wide range of human history from the Upper Palaeolithic to the Classical period.

I came to the UK to write a doctoral thesis on long term landscape history and human impact in the Sicilian Nebrodi Mountains integrating geoarchaeology, archaeology and modelling using GIS (University of Cambridge).

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work for English Heritage as a geoarchaeologist 2003-2004 advising on archaeological sites and research strategies across the south of England before taking my post in the Department of Archaeology in 2004.

  • PhD (University of Cambridge)
  • MA (Università di Roma, La Sapienza)
  • BA (University of Texas at Austin)
Research interests

My research interests are wide reaching and focus on the integration of different analytical methods. I work predominately in the Mediterranean but have worked all over the world, including Britain, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Turkey and Argentina.

  • Geoarchaeology (landscape and on-site investigations)
  • Italian and Mediterranean prehistory
  • Landscape archaeology and field survey techniques
  • Contemporary archaeology

Current research projects / collaborations:

  • 2018 – 2023- Vulci Archaeological Project (VT, Italy) – co-director with C. Riva (UCL), C. Casi (Parco Archeologico Nazionale di Vulci) in collaboration with the Soprintendenza di Roma.
  • 2014 – Present- The Knossos Gypsades Project (Crete) – co-director with A. Bogaard (University of Oxford) and E. Hatzaki (University of Cincinnati) and I. Serpetsidaki (23rd EPKA, Greek Ministry).
  • 2009 – Present- Çatalhöyük Landscape Project – co director with J. Wainwright (Durham University)
Research group

I would be happy to supervise students at both MA/MSc and PhD level on topics relating to geoarchaeology, landscape archaeology, and European prehistory.

Current Research Students

  • Nicholas Clarke- "A geochemical approach to unifying theory and practice in spatial studies of archaeology"
  • Emily La Trobe-Bateman- "Snowdonia's Early Fieldscapes"
  • Bryony Moody- "Heritage Data Analytics: Sustainable strategies for large and complex stratigraphic and chronometric data" (School of Mathematics and Statistics)
  • Caitlin Nagle- "A multi-proxy investigation of Late Holocene coastal landscapes in North Wales: modelling impacts of past and future climate change"

Former Students

  • Craig Appley- "The influence of environmental changes upon occupation practice and land use during the prehistory of the Furness Peninsula, South Cumbria, UK" (funded by a University of Sheffield studentship)
  • Tudur Davies- "Early Medieval Penllyn, an environmental landscape study"
  • Samantha Stein- "The Geoarchaeology and Micromorphology of Viking and Anglo-Saxon Occupation Sequences: understanding changes in use of space in a Viking camp and Anglo-Scandinavian settlement at Torksey, Lincolnshire" (funded by a University of Sheffield studentship)

Examples of former MSc research topics

  • Geoarchaeology in the A-Level classroom: Communicating archaeological interdisciplinarity
  • A geoarchaeological analysis of a Late Bronze Age floor deposit from Mokarta, Sicily
  • A geoarchaeological reconsideration of the accepted landscape model for Neolithic Çatalhöyük, Central Anatolia, Turkey
Teaching activities


  • Catastrophe and Climate Change: From Prehistory to Modernity (co-ordinator)


  • GIS For Archaeologists (co-ordinator)
  • Investigating Ancient Environments (co-ordinator)
  • Mediterranean Landscapes (co-ordinator)
  • Reinventing Archaeology
Professional activities and memberships
  • 2009 – Present- Ordinary Member of the AEA and the QRA
  • 2002 – Present- Reviewer for Geoarchaeology, Journal of Archaeological Science, Journal of Environmental Archaeology, and Journal of Field Archaeology, Antiquity
  • 2004 – 2009- Committee Member of the AEA


  • Ayala. G., Wainwright, J., Lloyd, J.M., Walker, J., Hodara Nelson, R., Leng, M., Doherty, C., Charles, M. (in press) Disentangling the Palaeoenvironmental Reconstructions of Çatalhöyük, in Ian Hodder (ed.) Excavations at Çatalhöyük, Chapter 2., British Institute at Ankara
  • Ayala, G. (2019) Erosion. In Sandra L. López Varela (ed) The SAS Encyclopedia of Archaeological Sciences. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Di Renzoni, A., Ayala, G., Brunelli, D., Levi, S.T., Lugli, S., Photos-Jones, E., Renzulli, A. and Santi, P. (2016) Aiding and abetting the archaeological enquiry: geochemical work-in-progress at the site of San Vincenzo, Stromboli, Aeolian Islands, Italy, in E. Photos-Jones (ed.) Proceedings of the 6th Symposium of the Hellenic Society for Archaeometry. BAR International Series 2780. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports Ltd.
  • Fitzjohn, M. and G. Ayala (2012) Making sense of a hidden Sicilian landscape: Geoarchaeological and GIS investigations of field survey data. In Van Leusen, P.M., G. Pizziolo & L. Sarti (eds), Hidden Landscapes of Mediterranean Europe: Cultural and methodological biases in pre- and protohistoric landscape studies. Oxford: BAR International Series 
  • Ayala, G., Conte, L., Tusa, S. (2012) Indagini stratigrafiche alla Grotta dei Cavalli, San Vito Lo Capo (TP), In Procelli, E. et al. (eds.) Atti della XLI Riunione Scientifica dell’I.I.P.P., Dai Ciclopi agli Ecisti. Società e territorio nella Sicilia preistorica e protostorica, (San Cipirello, 16-19 novembre 2006): 481- 489.
  • Ayala, G. & Fitzjohn, M. (2007) To be seen or not to be: interpretations of survey data and questions of archaeological visibility in upland Sicily, in M. Fitzjohn (ed.) The Uplands of ancient Sicily and Calabria: the archaeology of landscape revisited, Vol. 13: 99-114. Accordia Research Institute. 
  • Ayala, G. & French, C. (2003) Holocene landscape dynamics in a Sicilian upland river valley, in A.J. Howard, M.G. Macklin and D.G. Passmore (eds.), Alluvial Archaeology in Europe Lisse: Swets & Zeitlinger: 229-235. 
  • Malone, C., Ayala, G, Fitzjohn, M. and Stoddart, S., (2001-2003) Under the volcano. Accordia Research Papers, London; vol. 9: 7-21. Accordia Research Institute.

Journals- Special Issues

  • Geoarchaeology of Bronze Age Europe (eds.) C. Nicosia, G. Ayala, S. Dreibrodt, J. Niebieszczanski, A. Petos (in press) Special Edition of Journal of Archaeological Science Reports
  • Communities, environment and resources: the structuration of cultural landscapes in prehistoric
    Sicily and the Central Mediterranean basin (eds) C. Speciale, E. Giannitrapani, G. Ayala (in press) Special Edition of Journal of Archaeological Science Reports
  • Special Issue: Geoarchaeology: From Landscape to Laboratory and Back Again, (eds) M. Bateman, G. Ayala, J. Wainwright, November/December 2010, Volume 25, Issue 6, Pages 671–856
  • Special Issue: Geoarchaeology (eds.) G. Ayala and C. French, 2005, Volume 20, Numbers 1 and 2.

Journal Articles


  • Ayala, G. (2007) "Soils, Stones and Symbols: Cultural Perceptions of the Mineral World."
    Environmental Archaeology, Vol. 12, No. 2, 222-224.

Non-Refereed Abstracts, Reports & other Publications

  • Serpetsidaki, I. Hatzaki, E., Ayala, G., Bogaard, A. (2017) Knossos Gypsades Excavation Report for the Ministry of Culture, Greece and British School of Athens.
  • Serpetsidaki, I. Hatzaki, E., Ayala, G., Bogaard, A. (2016) Knossos Gypsades Excavation Report for the Ministry of Culture, Greece and British School of Athens.
  • Ayala, G. And Wainwright, J. (2016) Çatalhöyük fieldwork report. Website.
  • Serpetsidaki, I. Hatzaki, E., Ayala, G., Bogaard, A. (2015) Knossos Gypsades Excavation Report for the Ministry of Culture, Greece and British School of Athens.
  • Serpetsidaki, I. Hatzaki, E., Ayala, G., Bogaard, A. (2014) Knossos Gypsades Excavation Report for the Ministry of Culture, Greece and British School of Athens.
  • Ayala, G and Wainwright, J. (2013) Çatalhöyük fieldwork report. Website
  • Ayala, G., M. Canti, J. Heathcote, J. Sidell and R. Usai (2007) Geoarchaeology: Using earth sciences to understand the archaeological record, edited by Centre for Archaeology. English Heritage Publishing, Hawthornes, Nottingham.
  • Ayala, G. (2007) The Prehistory of the Metapontine Plain from the Neolithic to the Early Iron Age. Report for the University of Texas and the Soprintendenza of Basilicata.