Exploring the process of urbanisation in the Roman provinces of Germania through the study of food plant commerce

PlantNetGem is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship funded under the Horizon Europe programme of the European Union (HORIZON-MSCA-2021-PF-01-101063192) at the Landscape Archaeology Research Group (GIAP) of the Catalan Institute of Classical Archaeology (ICAC).

PI: Dr. Patricia Vandorpe. Supervised by: Alexandra Livarda (Ramón y Cajal researcher at ICAC).
Dates: 01/10/2022-09/09/2025


Through the study of imported/introduced food plants into the provinces of Germania in the Roman period, PlantNetGem aims to contribute to a better understanding of foodways and the role of transport and commerce in the development of the population nuclei in this area.

It will apply a novel, interdisciplinary approach, combining archaeobotany, computational archaeology and data science through practical training by the supervisory team that pioneered part of the proposed methodology.


The arrival of the Romans in large parts of current Europe had a major impact on society, with the creation of a new transport network and the development of cities being two of the most significant and lasting changes.

However, so far, little work has been done to quantify and understand their connection, how this developed and its lasting consequences.


The project will start by creating a geodatabase where archaeobotanical and archaeological information from the study area will be stored.

Network science will be applied to reconstruct settlement connectivity in relation to a) their access to the introduced food plants, and b) their position within and access to the Roman transport network.

Agent-Based Modelling and statistical analyses will be applied to further allow testing hypotheses concerning settlement position and hierarchy in relation to commerce to ultimately evaluate the role of the ancient transport network in the distribution and importance of urban centres and analyse to which degree these patterns have endured in time up to the modern period.

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Principal Investigator

Dr. Patricia Vandorpe

Dr. Vandorpe completed her PhD in 2010 at the University of Basel (Switzerland), where she has since worked as a research associate. Her main research interests are plant economy and environment in Roman times as well as methodological issues in archaeobotany.

After her PhD she conducted several smaller research projects such as combining the study of seeds and fruits with other proxy data (pollen analysis and ancient DNA) as well as a larger research project focusing on vegetable offerings in Roman cremation graves in Switzerland.

In her current position, Patricia carries out archaeobotanical research from all time periods.

PlantNetGem project profile

Dr. Patricia Vandorpe

Principal Investigator

MSCA researcher at the Catalan Institute of Classical Archaeology (ICAC) & researcher at the University of Basel

Dr. Alexandra Livarda


Ramón y Cajal researcher at the Catalan Institute of Classical Archaeology (ICAC) , International Coordinator at ICAC