Networking food plant imports in Roman Italy

NetFoodIt is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship funded under the Horizon Europe programme of the European Union (HORIZON-MSCA-2021-PF-01-101065142) at the Landscape Archaeology Research Group (GIAP) of the Catalan Institute of Classical Archaeology (ICAC).

PI: Dr. Federica Riso. Supervised by: Alexandra Livarda (Ramón y Cajal researcher at ICAC).
Dates: 01/12/2022 – 30/11/2024

With the NetFoodIt project, Dr. Riso aims to amplify her knowledge in Roman transport, movement and socioeconomic dynamics, developing a geodatabase of Roman food imports assemblages and studying their social access and rarity/regularity through a combination of novel techniques.


NetFoodIt aims at using imported food plants, for the study of Roman transport and movement and the socioeconomic dynamics that this established within the core of the Roman Empire and its broader surroundings, that is, across modern-day Italy.

In combination with the Roman transport network, the project will next investigate the centrality of the sites with these imports, their character as consumption or redistribution centres and will reconstruct the routes for the distribution of these food plants. 

In doing so NetFoodIt will shed new light into the relation between mobility, commerce and the introduction of new tastes in Roman Italy.


The emergence of the Roman Empire marked a series of significant political and socio-economic changes across modern-day Italy as well as across a very large part of modern-day Europe. Among these, the establishment of a new transport network and the development of trade and commerce that this facilitated, was one of the most important and lasting changes. 

This project will provide important insights into Roman commerce, economy and the extension and acquisition of new tastes as Rome expanded and developed contacts with other ancient cultures. 


NetFoodIt will develop a geodatabase of Roman food imports assemblages and study their social access and rarity/regularity.

In order to do so, a combination of novel techniques, which include Social Network Analysis, Site Rarity Index calculations, Spatial Network Analysis and spatial statistics will be employed in conjunction for the first time for Roman Italy.

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“We all know that all roads indeed lead to Rome. But I’m interested in following the tastes and trades of food plants to learn which routes connected Rome with the rest of the Empire”

Dr. Federica Riso

Principal Investigator

Dr. Riso is an expert in classical archaeology, specialised in archaeobotany, having been part of one of the best research teams in this field, under the direction of Professor Giovanna Bosi and Anna Maria Mercuri from the University of Modena, in Italy, where she earned her PhD in 2018.

In 2019 she obtained an important title in Italy, at the School of Specialization of Archaeological Heritage of the University of Bologna. Federica Riso had previously focused her research on Roman funerary rituals and funeral banquet.

In 2021 she held a postdoctoral position at the Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium) with a project that focuses primarily on the study of boundaries and sanctuaries.

Dr. Riso has strong field, laboratory and publication experience, with projects in Europe (France and Belgium).

NetFoodIt project profile

Dr. Federica Riso

Principal investigator

MSCA postdoctoral fellow at the Catalan Institute of Classical Archaeology (ICAC)

Dr. Alexandra Livarda


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