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 focuses on ancient (Iron Age) material culture in the Middle East to explore intersections and tensions between archaeology, heritage and history in this region. I am particularly interested in the ontological and epistemological problem of ‘the past in the present’, as this relates to historically recurrent events of hegemonic intervention around Iron Age monuments. Much of this research will be focused on Iron Age sites in southeastern Turkey Three historical domains are most relevant to the problem of Iron Age monuments in the present: an ancient context defined by the social and geo-political contingencies of the Assyrian Empire; an earlier modern context defined by the social and geo-political contingencies of European-led archaeology in the Ottoman Empire; and a later modern context defined by the role of archaeology in nation-building projects. The three pasts of Iron Age monuments are relevant to this study in so far as they are knowable, and in so far as they are intervening on the present. The extent to which these pasts can be simplified or instrumentalized in the politics of heritage today (local, national and global), is the extent to which scholarship should uphold a responsibility towards these different pasts. Please see further details of the project on the ‘Research’ page.
Title of research project:
The Subaltern Experience of Iron Age Monuments: an archaeology of archaeology in the Middle East
archaeology of empire in the Middle East (ancient and modern), Late Ottoman and German imperial history, postcolonial archaeology, post-humanist archaeology, archaeology of the present, heritage (local, national, global)
This project has four interrelated goals: 1) to understand how Iron Age monuments in the Middle East have mediated asymmetrical power relationships and related discourses during hegemonic interventions in this region in both the past and the present; 2) to revitalize material culture studies in Middle Eastern scholarship through engagements with post-colonial and post-humanist critiques in particular; 3) to facilitate interdisciplinary approaches between different academic fields that engage with the material remains of the past; and 4) to apply these insights to current tensions and crises that exist in the relationship between archaeology and heritage in the Middle East. The project (hereafter Iron Age Monuments) engages these themes within three primary fields of enquiry: Ancient Near Eastern Studies; Ottoman and European Imperial History, Archaeological Ethnography.
The central claim of Iron Age Monuments is that an interdisciplinary, multi-temporal, and theoretically nuanced approach to the monuments of the ancient Near East is unprecedented, in particular as a problem related to the presence of the ancient past in this region today. Three historical domains are most relevant to the problem of Iron Age monuments in the present: an ancient context defined by the social and geo-political contingencies of the Assyrian Empire; an earlier modern context defined by the social and geo-political contingencies of European-led archaeology in the Ottoman Empire; and a later modern context defined by the role of archaeology in nation-building projects. The three pasts of Iron Age monuments are relevant to this study in so far as they are knowable, and in so far as they are intervening on the present. The extent to which these pasts can be simplified or instrumentalized in the politics of heritage today (local, national and global), is the extent to which scholarship should uphold a responsibility towards these different pasts of Iron Age monuments.
By developing a biographical approach to Iron Age monuments (for example, which begins in the Iron Age), this project accounts for how an Iron Age monument can become immanent in the materiality and the discourses of the present for reasons that are similar to its creation as a monumental object in the first place. As such Iron Age Monuments creates a framework of historical precedents in the ancient and modern worlds to address different aspects of the relationship between Iron Age monumentality and heritage in the Middle East today. The most challenging discourses today include the hegemonic relationship between (Iron Age) archaeology and nationalism, (Iron Age) archaeology and globalization, as well as counter-hegemonic practices like the iconoclastic destruction of Iron Age monuments, or the looting of Iron Age archaeological sites. Questions of identity are salient in this approach to ancient objects and places. As such, Iron Age Monuments will analyze the relationship between Iron Age monumentality and the negotiation of different forms of identity (both hegemonic and sub-altern) in their respective historical contexts. Here, the ultimate concern is how the negotiation of identities in the past (e.g. during the Iron Age or in late Ottoman Empire) relates to problems of local, national and global heritage in the present.
Much of the research of Iron Age Monuments will focus on archaeological sites in southeastern Turkey. There are two primary reasons why this region is appropriate for such a study. One is logistical. Much of the relevant data in this project will be generated via archaeological ethnographic fieldwork. Southeastern Turkey represents one of a few remaining regions in the Middle East where the monumentality of the Assyrian Empire is still accessible to field research. The other is conceptual. The past, present and future of archaeology in Turkey exemplifies the complexities, challenges, and potentials of the approach that is developed here.
in press (April 2014). Citadel and Cemetery in Early Bronze Age Anatolia. Monographs in Mediterranean Archaeology 15. London: Equinox
2009. C. Bachhuber and R.G. Roberts (eds.) Forces of Transformation: The End of the Bronze Age in the Mediterranean, Proceedings of an International Symposium held at St. John’s College, Oxford on the 25-6th March 2006. Themes from the Ancient Near East BANEA Publication Series, Vol. 1. Oxford: Oxbow
Peer-reviewed articles and chapters
in press (January 2014). ‘Settlement mounds in spectacle-scapes in Bronze Age Turkey’, (length 6000 words) in J. Osborne (ed.) Approaching Monumentality in the Archaeological Record. Albany: SUNY Press
in press (March 2014). ‘The Anatolian Context of Philia Material Culture on Cyprus’ (length 9000 words) in A.B. Knapp and P. van Dommelen (eds.) The Cambridge Prehistory of the Bronze-Iron Age Mediterranean. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
2013. ‘James Mellaart and the Luwians: A Culture-(Pre)history’, in A. Mouton, I. Rutherford, and I. Yakubovich (eds.) Luwian Identities: culture, language and religion between Anatolia and the Aegean, 279-304. Leiden: Brill
2011. ‘Negotiating Metal and the Metal Form in the Royal Tombs of Alacahöyük in North-Central Anatolia’, in T. Wilkinson and S. Sherratt (eds.) Interweaving Worlds: systemic interactions in Eurasia, 7th to 1st millennia BC, 158-74. Oxford: Oxbow
2009. ‘The Treasure Deposits of Troy: Rethinking Crisis and Agency on the Early Bronze Age Citadel,’ Anatolian Studies 59: 1-18
2006. ‘Aegean Interest on the Uluburun Ship,’ American Journal of Archaeology 110: 345-63
2012. ‘Bronze Age Cities of the Plains and the Highlands: the Anatolian Plateau’ in D. Potts (ed.) Companion to the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, 575-95,Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell
2012. ‘Cape Gelidonya Shipwreck’, ‘Keftiu’, ‘Sea Peoples’, ‘Troad’, ‘Troy’ and‘Uluburun Shipwreck’, in R. Bagnall, K. Brodersen, C. Champion, A. Erskine and S.Hübner (eds.) Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Ancient History. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell; http://www.encyclopediaancienthistory.com/
2012. ‘Sumer, Ebla, Akkad and Anatolia’, in H. Crawford (ed.) The Sumerian World, 466-514.London: Routledge
in press with L. Keskin (December 2013). ‘Metal Objects and Metallurgy of Anatolia’ (length 3000 words) in H. Erkanal and V. Şahoğlu (eds.) ARCANE: Associated Regional Chronologies of the Ancient Near East and Eastern Mediterranean. IIIrd Millennium: Western Anatolia. Brepols: Turnhout
in press with V. Şahoğlu (December 2013) ‘Small Finds and Figurines of Anatolia’ (length 3000 words) in H. Erkanal and V. Şahoğlu (eds.) ARCANE: Associated Regional Chronologies of the Ancient Near East and Eastern Mediterranean. IIIrd Millennium:Western Anatolia. Brepols: Turnhout
Review of Community Identity and Archaeology: Dynamic Communities in Aphrodisias and Beycesultan, by Naoíse MacSweeney, Classical Journal-Online (May 2013)
Review of Materiality and Consumption in the Bronze Age Mediterranean, by Louise Steel, Classical Review-Online, (in press)
Review of The Gurob Ship-Cart Model and its Mediterranean Context, by Shelley Wachsmann, Institute of Nautical Archaeology Quarterly, (in press)
2012 ‘Metal, mystification and the origins of money: a dialogue with the art of Lucy Skaer’. The Federal 3: 23-26.