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In popular culture as in traditional archaeology, the tropical forest has been assumed to represent an environment inhospitable to humans. In this video, PATRICK ROBERTS challenges this view, demonstrating not only that Homo sapiens moved into tropical forests much earlier than previously thought but also that significant agricultural and urban societies existed in these places in the ancient past. Employing techniques including Stable Isotope Analysis, Paleoenvironmental Lake Coring, and LIDAR, by providing us with a better understanding of early man’s impact on tropical forest environments, the research seeks to help us to consider how to best preserve and protect these vital components of our planetary ecosystem.


Based in the Department of Archaeology at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Patrick Roberts is Group Leader of its recently established Stable Isotope Research Group. Having completed his BA, MSc and DPhil at the University of Oxford, Roberts’ main research interests include Stable Isotope Ecology and Geochemistry; Tropical Rainforest Archaeology, Ecology and Conservation and the evolution and dispersals of Homo sapiens. The recipient of several prestigious awards from both the Max Planck Society and the University of Oxford, Roberts’ monograph Tropical Forests in Prehistory, History, and Modernity will be published by Oxford University Press in 2019.


Max Planck Society

"The Max Planck Society is Germany's most successful research organization. Since its establishment in 1948, no fewer than 18 Nobel laureates have emerged from the ranks of its scientists, putting it on a par with the best and most prestigious research institutions worldwide. The more than 15,000 publications each year in internationally renowned scientific journals are proof of the outstanding research work conducted at Max Planck Institutes – and many of those articles are among the most-cited publications in the relevant field." ( Source )
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Original publication

Defining the ‘Generalist Specialist’ Niche for Pleistocene Homo Sapiens

Roberts Patrick and Stewart Brian A.
Nature Human Behaviour
Published in 2018