Our Team

Prof. Richard L. Zettler

Prof. Richard L. Zettler

Executive Director

Richard L. Zettler is an archaeologist specializing in the ancient past of Iraq and Syria. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago in 1984, and joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania in 1986-1987. In addition to teaching responsibilities, Zettler holds an appointment as curator in Penn Museum.

Zettler has conducted fieldwork in Iraq and Syria for forty-five years. He worked at Nippur and Umm al-Hafriyat in southern Iraq, as well as Üç Tepe in the upper Diyala River basin, in the late 1970s, and directed excavations at Tell es-Sweyhat, an Early Bronze Age site on the upper Euphrates in Syria, from 1989-2007. He has been working at sites in the Rowanduz-Soran district of Erbil Governorate in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq since 2013.

Having served as a Consultant on the Mosul Archaeology Program, an exchange between Boston University’s Department of Archaeology and the University of Mosul’s College of Archaeology, supported by the U. S. Department of State, Zettler joined ASOR’s Cultural Heritage Initiative as Co-Investigator and Senior Cultural Heritage Advisor in 2014. He and Michael D. Danti established the Iraq Heritage Stabilization Program (IHSP) at the University of Pennsylvania in 2018. Starting with support from the U. S. Department of State, IHSP has drawn additional support from ALIPH Foundation and the Gerda Henkel Stiftung.

Dr. Michael D. Danti

Dr. Michael D. Danti

Program Manager

Dr. Michael Danti is a Near Eastern archaeologist and cultural heritage expert with over 30 years of experience directing archaeological programs and preservation initiatives in Syria, Iraq, Iran, and the United States. Since 2018, he has served as the Program Manager of the Iraq Heritage Stabilization Program (IHSP) at the University of Pennsylvania. In the past, Danti has directed U.S. DOS programs in the MENA region focused on higher education and cultural heritage protection and preservation. As a field archaeologist, Danti directs the Rowanduz Archaeological Program in Iraqi Kurdistan, which includes archaeological excavations, surveys, and cultural heritage management projects, as well as the Hasanlu (Iran) Publication Project. He has written numerous official reports and scholarly articles on the cultural heritage crises in the Middle East and has been a regular public speaker and presenter on television and radio to raise awareness of the plight of our global cultural patrimony. Danti has testified before the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade on cultural property crimes in the conflict zones of Syria and Iraq. He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 2011 and serves as a Consulting Scholar at the Penn Museum.

Dr. Darren P. Ashby

Dr. Darren P. Ashby

Senior Research Coordinator

Dr. Darren P. Ashby received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations in 2017 with a specialization in the archaeology, art, and history of Ancient Mesopotamia. From 2017 to 2019, he worked as a Project Manager for Syrian and Iraqi Cultural Heritage Projects at the American Schools of Oriental Research’s Cultural Heritage Initiatives. He has been a member of IHSP since 2019.

Dr. William B. Hafford

Dr. William B. Hafford

Senior Research Coordinator

Dr. William B. Hafford received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in the graduate group of Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World in 2001 and is a consulting scholar at the Penn Museum. He has 25 years of experience in the MENA region working as site supervisor, assistant, or associate director at many archaeological sites in Syria, Egypt, and Iraq. He began working with IHSP on heritage work in northern Iraq in 2020.

IHSP works closely with Iraqi heritage professionals to protect and promote Iraq’s diverse cultural heritage for both Iraqis and the global community. Please consider donating to support the preservation of this heritage for present and future generations.