Center for Area Studies
I am an archaeologist and received my doctorate from St. John’s College, University of Oxford. Before joining the Center for Area Studies in 2013, I held postdoctoral fellowships and teaching positions at the British Institute at Ankara, Brown University, and the University of Oxford. I specialize in the ancient material culture and societies of the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, and have published widely on the Bronze Age of this region (ca. 3500-1200 BC), particularly in Turkey (ancient Anatolia). I have worked in Turkey as a field archaeologist for many years, including in underwater (shipwreck) archaeology and, more recently, as principal investigator of the Bronze Age excavations of Zincirli (ancient Sam’al) in southeastern Turkey, under the aegis of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago.
My current research in the Center for Area Studies explores intersections and tensions between archaeology, heritage and history in southeastern Turkey. I am particularly interested in the ontological and epistemological problem of ‘the past in the present’, as this relates to periodic events of foreign intervention that have focused on specific places in southeastern Turkey. In this interdisciplinary project, I am examining how, why, and with what consequences, ‘histories’ of ancient places have been appropriated by foreign elites during three periods: in the ancient world (e.g. during Assyrian conquest), in the modern world (e.g. during the Late Ottoman period and the imperial contest between the Germans and British in the region), and in the post-modern present (with foreign-led archaeological projects in the region today). The project is unified by its focus on one archaeological site in particular (Zincirli, ancient Sam’al). Please see further details of the project on the ‘Research’ page.
Project title: Re-making ancient places: foreign appropriations of the past in southeastern Turkey from the Iron Age to the present
Keywords: archaeologies of empire in the Middle East (ancient and modern), Late Ottoman and German imperial history, postcolonial archaeology, Assyriology and archaeology of the Ancient Near East, landscape archaeology
Regional focus: Southeastern Turkey
Description: This interdisciplinary project examines how the material culture of ancient places in southeastern Turkey (including at Zincirli, ancient Sam’al, where I work) has mediated power relationships during three historical events of globalization: 1) the Assyrian Empire when local city-states (including Sam’al) were conquered and their monument-scapes were transformed by the Assyrians; 2) the Late Ottoman period when foreign (mostly German and British) archaeologists were prominent players in an imperial contest that also involved transforming the ancient monument-scapes of the region (e.g. through German excavations at Zincirli); 3) and today, when foreign archaeologists (mostly European and American) are negotiating their roles and responsibilities as researchers and heritage managers with the Turkish Ministry of Culture, with Turkish colleagues, and with local communities. In this process the ancient monument-scapes and the settlements of the people who live on or near them continue to be transformed (including at Zincirli), as one consequence of foreign and governmental interventions in the region on behalf of archaeology and heritage.
The range of specialists who will be involved in this project include: 1) an archaeologist with a background or interest in the cultural history of the Iron Age of northern Syria and southeastern Turkey (at the margins of Assyrian Empire); 2) a heritage researcher with expertise in the tangible and intangible heritage of Turkey; 3 a Late Ottoman historian, with expertise in foreign relations with Europe and Germany in particular.
The interdisciplinary aspect of this project has two overarching goals: 1) to develop an interpretive framework with which to explore resonances and tensions that exist between these different epistemologies of the past (e.g. between the archaeology, heritage, and history of Zincirli/Sam’al); 2) to demonstrate causal relationships between these three historical periods of foreign intervention. The project will be successful if it can illuminate processes of ‘place-making’ at Zincirli through the lenses of archaeology, history, and heritage, foregrounding ‘local’ engagement with ‘foreign’ interests, and working towards a holistic and ethical investigation and presentation of Zincirli that is sensitive to local interests.
Peer-reviewed articles and chapters