Kolb Dissertations


Benjamin Abbott, PhD (ANCH)



This dissertation investigates the co-reign and reign of the second king of the Seleucid Empire, Antiochus I Soter (ca. 294–261 BCE) and serves as the first extensive study of his reign. I argue that the reign of Antiochus I is the period of Seleucid history in which we can identify the first coherent formation of Seleucid imperial ideology and of a Seleucid dynastic identity. To make this argument, I draw on a wide range of evidentiary sources: literature, archaeology, numismatics, epigraphy, and other material sources. Antiochus implemented for the first time or in new ways many facets of Seleucid rule that would come to define the dynasty’s imperial approach for nearly all subsequent Seleucid kings. Among Antiochus’ innovations were the creation of the Seleucid Era, the elevated importance of Seleucid Syria, a defined ideology of Seleucid territory and its bounds, and the introduction of Apollo as a Seleucid dynastic ancestor. The reign of Antiochus has long been overlooked in modern scholarship, and many of these new policies have often been attributed to Antiochus’ father Seleucus. I argue that this retroactive understanding of these innovations was the intent of Antiochus’ ideological program. In the years after Seleucus’ death in 281 BCE, Antiochus created a dynastic identity which was centered around a newly constructed history of Seleucus’ life and reign. In forging an imaginary history of Seleucus’ life and achievements, Antiochus solidified a coherent dynastic identity which simultaneously strengthened and deemphasized his own reign by rooting it in a dynastic past and which could also be used as a tool to justify new imperial action. As Antiochus introduced his new Seleucid policies, he downplayed their novelty by inserting them into this new Seleucid past, presenting them as the continuation of things that had already been done and which already existed.

Reed Goodman, PhD (AAMW)



Julia Simons, PhD (CLST)



The extent to which tuberculosis affected the lives of the ancient people of the Greek and Roman worlds has not yet been comprehensively presented. By synthesising and analysing a broad range of data across time I reveal the complex condition that was the life of the tuberculosis sufferer. As the ultimate symbol of life at the edge, consumption served as a thought-piece in the ancient world to navigate ethical, pragmatic, medical, and social issues. The paradigmatic disease of extremes, it represented the extremes of human suffering, resiliency, and perseverance. By analysing the bioarchaeological data, I establish the disease’s patterns of manifestation, and the physical deformities and disabilities it created (e.g., hunchback).  By establishing the reality of the disease, I corroborate this evidence to assert that the ancient medical terms phthisis / phthoē should in essence, as an agreed upon aggregate of symptoms, be understood as tuberculosis. Utilizing both medical and non-medical writings I reveal how the tuberculosis sufferer was viewed in society, e.g., the supposed causes of their illness, how society treated them, and their access to ethical medical care. By incorporating iconographic evidence, I demonstrate further how the tuberculosis sufferer was viewed as a marginal figure, emblematic of the extremes of human existence.

            Chapter One establishes the physical reality of tuberculosis in the past as evidenced by skeletons and provides the only comprehensive survey of published Greco-Roman cases to date. Chapter Two explores the notions of miasma and contagion in both medical and non-medical spheres, establishing that while tuberculosis was considered just punishment for transgressive actions by general society, medical authors suggested non-supernatural physiological and environmental etiologies. It investigates the extent to which medical authors and laymen perceived and understood tuberculosis’ transmissibility. Chapter Three elucidates the medical understanding of tuberculosis’ etiology (including a unique female etiology), progression, manifestation, and its link to the development of a hunchback. Chapter Four explores the tuberculosis sufferer’s (and hunchback’s) experience: their pictorial representations, stigma, and access to medical care and therapies (including pain management, climate therapy, pharmaceuticals, regimen, sanctuary healing and euthanasia).


Aylar Abdolahzadeh, PhD (ANTH)



Emily French, PhD (AAMW)



The question of how Romans understood the world around them has inspired vigorous debate. In one camp, some argue that, due to a dearth of cartographic evidence and the prevalence of written itineraries, only linear understandings of space were possible, while others argue for the possibility of map-conscious, cartographic understandings. My project brings new evidence to this debate, in the form of floor mosaics with landscape and geographic imagery, to demonstrate that cartographic understandings of space were possible and wide-ranging. These mosaics display varied places like labeled Mediterranean islands, wild hunting grounds, and the Christian Holy Land. They compress large landscapes and geographies into their relatively small interiors, making their rooms microcosms of the world out there. I explore case studies organized thematically, compiling mosaics depicting water, land, map-like depictions, allegorical representations of space, and finally combinations of those types in a single Sicilian villa. Using theories of space and place and phenomenology, I study closely both the iconography and the archaeological contexts of the mosaics, situating these microcosmic floors back in their original spaces. I assess their scales relative to the human body, possible routes around their imagery, and views at downward angles. Often understudied as physical floors, I show how the mosaics allowed their viewers to inhabit and engage with the microcosms they created, physically imparting or reinforcing particular understandings of the expanses they depict. I conclude that because most of these floors depict geographically specific and even labeled places, as well as faraway places, and because the majority of the floors were laid down well after the establishment of the Roman empire, they can reveal increased cartographic understandings of the world that came with Rome’s imperial project. Several important ideas about empire emerge, like connection across the Roman world and access to its many landscapes and resources. Compressing these landscapes and geographies, owning or funding them, and making them accessible to others could be a clear way for Romans to show power.


Megan Postemski, PhD (ANTH)

Cultivating Communities on the Eastern Frontier: Agrarian Landscapes and Life in Downeast Maine (1760–1860)


This dissertation explores how people transform “new” and unfamiliar environments through colonization. While adaptationist perspectives typically stress how the environment shapes human behavior and communities, I integrate historical ecology and settlement ecology to examine how people mold, maintain, and manage landscapes. Rather than passive backdrops, landscapes are dynamic, produced as humans actively modify the environment. Boundaries, whether stable or fluid, divide and structure landscapes. As a type of boundary, frontiers can be understood as centers of social interaction and exchange, but more often are viewed as peripheries, remote but ripe for settlement, or wild zones where pioneers struggled to survive. Given factors like severe winters, poor soils, and warfare, the latter portrayal dominates narratives of America’s Eastern frontier during the 18th and 19th centuries. To interrogate notions of a largely static, intractable frontier environment, I assess how Euroamericans transformed the Downeast Maine region through settlement and enclosure. To determine how they colonized, cleared, bounded, and cultivated the landscape, I analyze archival, archaeological, and geospatial data from nine towns. First, I trace changes in the landscape and agricultural production between 1792 and 1811 using historical tax valuations. Statistical and geospatial analyses of this data suggest some town landscapes were more thoroughly improved and refined through agriculture than others. Initial parallels between frontier agricultural production and that of southern New England challenge notions of the intractable frontier environment. Second, I juxtapose 18th- and 19th-century maps with Google Earth and Light Detection and Ranging imagery to explore how the frontier landscape was settled, divided, and enclosed. By identifying historical landscape features that endure in the modern landscape, I chart continuity and change in the structure of these towns through the present. Finally, I examine the Foster Farmstead in Deer Isle, Maine as a case study to investigate how settlement and agrarian activities became physically embedded in the landscape at a small scale. My archaeological survey and excavation reveal settlement and landscape features like foundations, stone walls, and stone piles, which attest to how descendants of the Fosters continued to inhabit, transform, and enclose the land through time.


Gregory Callaghan, PhD (ANCH)

Attalid Networks: Seeking Status and Acquiring Authority Beyond State Capacity


This dissertation examines how the Attalids, despite-even because of-a fairly limited military capacity, achieved a status in the eastern Mediterranean comparable to the great powers such as the Ptolemies, Seleucids, or Antigonids. I demonstrate that the Attalids pursued this status as an alternative source of influence to compensate for the limits of traditionally defined military- political power. Methodologically, I use network analysis as a starting point for organizing and visualizing Attalid interstate status signaling, drawing on a wide range of evidentiary sources: epigraphy, archaeology, literature, numismatics, and other material sources. My use of networks is fundamentally descriptive, while my analysis is rooted in modern International Relations theories of status, authority, and hierarchies. The dynasty’s pursuit of status enabled it to have an outsized role within their interstate system and to expand from a single city to a sizable kingdom spanning most of Asia Minor. This challenges the field’s traditional conception of the interstate system, with its disproportionate focus on great powers. In my focus on the middle power of the Attalids, I break through this dichotomy, and demonstrate how status hierarchies were a means by which states besides the great powers claimed a space for themselves on the world stage, and could, in fact, influence interstate behavior despite their lesser material capacities.

Kyle G. Olson, PhD (ANTH)

Models Of Trade And Polity Formation In Bronze Age Northeastern Iran, Ca. 3200–1600 Bce


A persistent hypothesis in the archaeology of complex societies posits that the acquisition of raw materials for craft production underpins the emergence of first the division of labor, then the emergence of social stratification, and finally, the development of political institutions and ultimately state formation. In cases where such raw materials — especially those needed for the fashioning of status symbols — are not available locally, self-aggrandizing leaders and aspiring elites will seek to create or otherwise manipulate long distance flows of such materials to either acquire the status symbols or to furnish the craft industries which they control. While this theory has for decades been the subject of debate and revision according to theoretical and methodological fashions, its premises have nevertheless achieved a level of disciplinary common-sense. So much so in fact, that interregional trade is seen by many scholars as an unquestionably key variable in polity formation, especially in the case of so-called “secondary” polity-formation. A case study based on the Gorgan Plain in northeastern Iran focusing on the chronological interval between the Late Chalcolithic and the Late Bronze Age (ca. 3200-1600 BCE) shows that the necessity and chronological priority of increases in interregional trade cannot be taken for granted in the process of polity formation. Indeed, cases where the order of operations is reversed are not only possible but do in fact exist. Through an examination of the historiography of macro-historical narratives of the relationship between interregional trade and Bronze Age political geography in Iran, the synthesis of underutilized survey and excavation data, the conduct of a virtual site survey using Google Earth, and the computation of spatial-organizational models, I show that the period in which the Gorgan Plain was most involved in interregional trade actually follows a period of polity formation, and is instead correlated with what all previous scholars have considered to be a phase of polity disintegration and collapse.


Tiffany C. Fryer, PhD (ANTH)

Materializing Political Violence: Segregation, War, and Memory in Quintana Roo, MX (Authored as Tiffany C. Cain)


How does political violence materialize across timescales in settler colonial contexts? This central question of my dissertation responds to what I see as a growing divide between war studies and everyday life studies in the humanities and social sciences. This divide has special influence in studies of colonialism writ large, and colonial violence in particular, because it can render indigenous peoples’ experiences with and engagements in colonial projects unintelligible. In order to remedy this shortcoming, I present a framework for an archaeology of political violence, defined not as a synonym for war, but as the function of war and structural oppression. The framework I propose emerges from my involvement with a collaborative heritage initiative, the Tihosuco Heritage Preservation and Community Development Project, located in Tihosuco, Quintana Roo, Mexico. The project positioned me to draw on a wide range of media with which to think about the politics surrounding the history of the Caste War of Yucatan—a predominantly Maya anti-colonial insurrection that began in the former Tihosuco Parish in 1847. The war lasted until 1901, making it one of the longest (as well as most successful) indigenous insurrections to have been mounted in the Americas. Each of the three central chapters contends with one mode of materializing political violence: segregation, war, and memory practices. Ultimately, the aim is to arrive at a more holistic approach to investigating violence—and its ramifications—in settler colonial contexts.

Tom Hardy, PhD (ANTH)

Assembling States: Community Formation And The Emergence Of The Inca Empire


This dissertation investigates the processes through which the Inca state emerged in the south-central Andes,
ca. 1400 CE in Cusco, Peru, an area that was to become the political center of the largest indigenous empire in
the Western hemisphere. Many approaches to this topic over the past several decades have framed state
formation in a social evolutionary framework, a perspective that has come under increasing critique in recent
years. I argue that theoretical attempts to overcome these problems have been ultimately confounded, and in
order to resolve these contradictions, an ontological shift is needed. I adopt a relational perspective towards
approaching the emergence of the Inca state – in particular, that of assemblage theory. Treating states and
other complex social entities as assemblages means understanding them as open-ended and historically
individuated phenomena, emerging from centuries or millennia of sociopolitical, cultural, and material
engagements with the human and non-human world, and constituted over the longue durée.
This means that understanding the emergence of the Inca state, and the historically contingent form it took,
requires investigating the transformations of local and regional communities in the Cusco heartland. The
multiscalar nature of this type of investigation also demands an examination of processes occurring at
particular local communities through time. To resolve this, I directed excavations at the archaeological site of
Minaspata, located in the Lucre Basin in the southeastern part of the Cusco region, followed by analyses of the
material remains recovered from the site. These include fine-grained investigations of the ceramic patterns, the
faunal and macrobotanical remains, and the procurement of obsidian through long-distance exchange. By
comparing these patterns to those of the larger Cusco region, an understanding of how the Cusco regional
community cohered and broke apart at various points in time can be gained. This regional community
eventually gave rise to the Inca state, providing the raw material for Inca projects of sovereignty and subject-
making. Although the period before Inca emergence was marked by processes focused on the localization of
community, the sociocultural and material frameworks established through complex histories of interaction
over millennia enabled the Cusco region to reproduce itself as a self-recognizing, coherent social entity, a critical necessity for the emergence of Inca sovereignty.

Sam Holzman, PhD (AAMW)

Bilingual Ionic Column Capitals: Perceptions Of The Past In Greek Architecture, 6th–3rd Century Bce


Eight Ionic temples and votive monuments in Greece, Italy, and Turkey exhibit a striking feature: Ionic column capitals that, on one side, recreate the convex style of the early temples of Ionia (6th century BCE) and, on the other side, evince the contemporary concave style of the period (late 6th–3rd century BCE) and place where the columns were made. Like the painters of bilingual Attic vases, the carvers of these architectural elements created a striking effect by switching techniques to produce visual inversions on opposite sides. Previously discussed piecemeal as transitional or unfinished architectural members, bilingual Ionic capitals are examined in this study within their architectural and historical contexts to identify overarching connections. Carving techniques, polychromy, chiaroscuro shading under different lighting conditions, and human viewpoints affected the perception of these structures. The archaistic element of bilingual Ionic buildings was not meant to fool the viewer, but instead drew a direct comparison between contemporary building and an aggrandized past of early Ionian temples. By shaping the built landscapes of cities and sanctuaries to include visions of the past, patrons and architects highlighted aspects of civic, ethnic, and religious identities in relationship to legendary ancestors. Understanding the extent of retrospective design in the Ionic order offers a new perspective on archaism and the representation of the past in Greek art as well as the long-lived history of copying, appropriating, and mixing Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian columns.

Leah Humphrey, PhD (NELC)

Constructing Royal Identity In The Old Kingdom Pyramid Texts


The concept of identity is central to the Egyptian Pyramid Texts from the Old Kingdom. In this funerary corpus, the king’s identity evolves and transforms constantly within and among the spells. Many different grammatical constructions were employed to assert identity. Some of these constructions produce statements of equivalence, while others produce statements of comparison. The present study analyzes four of these identity constructions including: clauses with nominal predicates, clauses with the preposition m, clauses with the preposition mr, and clauses with repetition. These four represent the primary predicative constructions that produce equations between the king and other beings or objects. Scholars do not often distinguish among these four constructions. Rather, scholarly translations and analyses suggest that these constructions can produce the same meanings, can be translated in a similar manner, and are sometimes interchangeable. Thus, scholars do not clearly delineate which constructions produce statements of equivalence and which produce statements of comparison. The present study disentangles these four identity constructions by collecting, categorizing, and analyzing the hundreds of examples that relate to the king. This detailed investigation also provides information about how frequently the king is equated or compared with specific and generic beings or objects. Ultimately, this study argues that these four identity constructions are not interchangeable; rather, syntactic, semantic, or stylistic reasons dictate their use. In addition, this study analyzes the purpose of these constructions in the Pyramid Texts and concludes that these constructions allow the king’s identity to resemble the multifaceted identities of the gods. These constructions also help the king establish a sense of permanence in his life after death.

Patricia Eunji Kim, PhD (ARTH)

Engendering Power: Dynastic Women And Visual Culture In The Hellenistic World (fourthFirst Centuries Bce)


This dissertation presents the first synthetic analysis of the art and archaeology of Hellenistic royal and dynastic women (4th–1st c BCE). The study examines how their visual and material culture expressed political power and conceptions of femininity throughout the Hellenistic world, with a focus on the eastern Mediterranean, Egypt, Anatolia, and the Middle East, reaching sometimes into Central Asia. Under analysis are the portrayals and representations of dynastic and royal women of Lykia and Karia in Asia Minor, Argead and Antigonid Makedon, Ptolemaic Egypt, Seleukid Asia, and Attalid Pergamon. The art-historical corpus of dynastic women includes a variety of media and genres: coins, gems, mosaic and painting, large-scale monuments, written decrees, architecture (remains and descriptions), and traditional portraits in the round and in relief. Whereas past art-historical scholarship focused on masculinity and kingship, I demonstrate how dynastic women and queenship shaped royal and/or imperial representations, and how the “private,” domestic spaces of femininity could be central to “public” hegemonic art. Dynastic women were mostly absent from public and private display throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East until the early fourth century, just a few generations before Alexander the Great’s conquests. After Alexander’s campaigns, his empire splintered into several kingdoms controlled by Greek dynasts who married Greek and/or Asian noblewomen. Their descendants continued to fight for territories, rule over diverse communities, and incorporate women into their visual and material cultures—a remarkable transformation in centuries-old traditions of visualizing power. The project explores how different actors innovated new modes of representation and reformulated earlier local traditions with respect to the portrayal of dynastic women. Moreover, new analyses of royal women as both subjects and patrons of art reveal how gendered power dynamics were constructed and negotiated within and across dynasties. I thus bring issues of gendered and ethnic difference to bear on how such portrayals would have been received by a diverse group of audiences: Greeks and non-Greeks, men and women, and royal and non-royal viewers. This dissertation contributes to broader discussions in gender and women’s studies, as well as to conversations about cross-cultural encounters and colonial legacies.

Breton Langendorfer, PhD (ARTH)

Assyrian Entropy: City Sieges and Cosmic Dissolution in the Palace Relief Programs


During its heyday in the eight and seventh centuries BCE, the Neo-Assyrian Empire was so militarily powerful that few armies could stand against it in open combat. The annual campaigns of the Assyrian monarchs were thus largely occupied with city sieges, memorialized both in royal inscriptions and in the sculptural relief programs that decorated their royal palaces. Imagery of systematic urban destruction was triumphantly presented over and over again in these reliefs, in portrayals no less graphic than the depictions of death and torture which have long made these sculptural narratives notorious. These images testify to the unprecedented violence and technical expertise which the Assyrians brought to sieges: city walls (an important symbol of political independence in the ancient Near East) are seen dismantled, brick by brick, by complex war engines or digging soldiers, and collapsing masonry and falling enemy combatants echo each other’s demise. The walls of the royal palaces were covered by these vivid portrayals of the violent dissolution of city life, a striking fact when considering that these palaces were often situated within capital cities newly built or renovated by the kings themselves. This dissertation explores how the Assyrian state couched this destructive enterprise within the broader concepts of entropy and dissolution inherent in Mesopotamian cosmology. In Assyrian royal inscriptions the actions of king and army are compared to the violence of natural disaster, or equated with the dissolving power of time itself by turning enemy cities into deserted ruins. Within the reliefs, siege depictions consistently focus upon the entropic touch of soldiers’ weapons and siege engines as they dismantled enemy settlements into constituent parts. And within the architectural environs of at least one royal citadel, Sargon II’s palace at Dur Šarruken, siege images were deployed to structure visitors’ experience of physical space, placed at transitional points between rooms and emphasizing choices in directional movement. Ultimately all of these rhetorical approaches, I argue, attempted to place the Assyrian Empire in violent harmony with the forces of dissolution naturally at play in the cosmos, and to shield its own works from their effects.

Whittaker Schroder, PhD (ANTH)

Community Resiliance Through Crisis at El Infiernito, Chiapas, A Fortified Refuge in the Upper Usumacinta Valley 


Collapse has been misunderstood to equate with the disappearance of civilizations, but political fragmentation is merely one aspect of the complex processes of social transformation. Other concepts, including resilience are useful to separate the effects of cultural continuity from political disintegration. This study approaches these topics from the level of an archaeological community or hamlet located at the periphery of a dynastic center or state. I present 4 broad arguments: 1) collapse and resilience are evolving processes best understood as different aspects of social transformation, 2) the role of agency in collapse and resilience studies is underappreciated, 3) lower elite and commoner populations play a role in these political dynamics, and 4) the changing relationship between dynastic centers and outlying communities is negotiated over time rather than static. The cultural context of this study is the political transformation at the end of the Classic period (AD 250–900) in the Southern Maya Lowlands that involved, in part, political fragmentation or collapse. The timing of this Classic period (AD 250–900) collapse in the Maya area has been informed by long count calendar dates on the final monuments of dynastic and subsidiary centers. However, archaeologists have noted that the subsequent demographic decline in the Southern Lowlands was a protracted process that operated at diverse rates across different subregions. I address these issues with a middle or community-level approach through settlement survey and the excavation of El Infiernito, a hamlet roughly equidistant from the Classic period dynastic center Piedras Negras and its subsidiary ally La Mar. Crucial to the resilience of the El Infiernito community was the reoccupation of a hilltop first modified during the Protoclassic period (100 BC–AD 350) and the construction and maintenance of defensive features to protect the site, agricultural terraces, and a karst spring. Further strategies involved the construction of C-shaped benches and subdivision of living space, ancestor veneration and other household rituals, accessing shifting trade networks, and controlling access to ritual caves. El Infiernito, therefore, provides a rare glimpse of the transition from the Terminal Classic to Early Postclassic periods in the Upper Usumacinta Basin.


Lara Fabian, PhD (AAMW)

Examining the Archaeology of ‘Antik’-quity: The Eastern Caucasus beyond Rome and Parthia


A new political power, Caucasian Albania, grew in the eastern Caucasus between the collapse of the Achaemenid Empire and the consolidation of the Sasanian Empire (ca. 300 BCE – 300 CE). During this period, the region was a multi-polar intersection of Mediterranean, Iranian, and Steppe zones of interest and socio-political frameworks. Although never comfortably integrated into the Seleucid, Roman, or Arsacid empires, residents in the eastern Caucasus interacted with all of them. Antik Albania, however, has remained at the margins of modern scholarship, creating a gap in our perceptions of the networks flowing across antiquity. In this dissertation, I provide an archaeological, historical, and historiographic investigation of Antik Albania that addresses that gap. It focuses on Albania’s interactions with the Mediterranean world, while also exploring the ancient Iranian context. Additionally, it examines the intellectual history of the Russian Empire, the Soviet South Caucasus, and contemporary Azerbaijan that generated most archaeological data and previous scholarship on the region. Building from an examination of textual sources, I consider the way that the landscape of the eastern Caucasus shaped movement and connectivity. The mountainous terrain created distinct transit corridors through the space, but instead of positioning themselves directly along one of these, the Albanians chose to build their base of power in more distant space that controlled a juncture between low- and highlands. Despite their choice of an out-of-the-way location, the material culture associated with Albanian state administration demonstrates that local political authorities constructed their own vocabulary of power, which freely incorporated and re-imagined elements from Mediterranean and Iranian neighbors. Finally, mortuary data reflecting social identity highlight the sustained presence of mobile pastoralist populations connected to the Pontic and Eurasian steppes. These data show the fluidity between elements of the population that have been previously been presumed to be either mobile or sedentary. Throughout this study, I argue that the ‘remoteness’ of Albania in both its ancient context and within our Anglo-American scholarly one is, in, fact a conceptual strength of the space. It prompts us to wrestle with diverse datasets and conflicting intellectual histories, enriching and expanding our vision of a connected antiquity.

Stephanie Hagan, PhD (ARTH)

Marble And Munificence: Reassessing The Basilica Of Junius Bassus At Rome


Several transitions mark Late Antiquity as a departure from the Roman world’s political, religious, economic, and social past. Among these was Constantine’s foundation of a “new Rome” at Constantinople. Without the emperor’s presence to underpin the city’s prominence, the aristocrats of Rome sought to reassert their political influence and proclaim their elite standing. My dissertation investigates the ways elites used competitive display to redefine a world without Rome as its sole center, recovering as its central case the now-lost fourth century CE “Basilica of Junius Bassus” on the Esquiline Hill. The apsidal hall was revetted with an eclectic set of marble panels, including a portrait of the patron in procession, a mythological scene of the rape of Hylas, Egyptianizing trompe l’oeil drapery, and animal combats in the arena. My project is the first comprehensive treatment of the hall, and calls on a variety of data sets (epigraphy, literary sources, Renaissance drawings, archaeological data) to place the hall in its social, historical, topographic, and art historical context and analyze the way one member of Rome’s late antique aristocracy built and used monuments and manipulated urban topography to evoke and re-shape honorific memory. This study refigures the hall through close looking and socio-historical contextualization, while asking how we can understand and reliably reconstruct a monument from the past with a rich but fragmentary material record.

Kathryn R. Morgan, PhD (AAMW)

A Moveable Feast: Production, Consumption, And State Formation At Early Phrygian Gordion


The archaeological site of Gordion in central Anatolia is best known as the seat of King Midas of Phrygia, he of the mythical ‘golden touch,’ whose reign is documented in Assyrian texts dating to the late 8th century BCE. But while Midas is the only historically attested ruler of Phrygia, the site is a multiperiod settlement mound, surrounded by over 100 monumental earthen burial mounds, or tumuli. Archaeological excavation of these remains supports the notion that a complex polity based at Gordion was established and thrived there over the course of the Early and Middle Iron Ages, ca. 1200–600 BCE. Relatively little work has been done to elucidate the sociopolitical organization or development of such a polity, however, beyond the simplistic reconstruction of a dynasty of kings whose royal burials are preserved in the tumulus fields. In this dissertation, I re-examine the evidence for sociopolitical formation at the Gordion citadel mound in the centuries before Midas. The city’s urban plan underwent a period of rapid expansion and monumentalization between ca. 1000–800 BCE; this process of urbanization was only briefly interrupted when a massive fire swept through the city ca. 800, destroying many of its buildings and preserving their rich contents in situ. I combine diachronic analysis of the citadel mound architecture with a synchronic evaluation of the activities taking place within at the time of its destruction, focusing on the well-provisioned Terrace Complex, one of the last and most significant alterations to the city before the fire. I frame these investigations in a theoretical framework derived from feasting studies and the archaeology of performance to reconstruct the suite of collective and commensal practices associated with the emergence of a Phrygian social and political identity at this transformative moment in the city’s history. I ultimately conclude that we should conceive of Early Phrygian Gordion not as the seat of a ruler, but as a central place where group identity was negotiated in the context of communal feasts, arguing that the case of Gordion illustrates the importance of collective action to the emergence of early complex polities.

Daira Nocera, PhD (AAMW)

Beyond the Emperor’s Disgrace: Reconstructing the Architectural, Topographical, and Landscape Design of Domitian’s Rome


While Domitian’s damnatio memoriae led to the destruction of the emperor’s image, the massive architectural footprint he left on the city of Rome was indelible. Most scholarly assessments of Domitian’s building program emphasize the Flavian emperor’s continuity with Vespasian and his more retrospective connection with Augustan policy. On closer inspection, however, his architectural projects exhibit an undeniable thirst for innovation. This dissertation provides the first systematic analysis of the entire building program carried out by Domitian in Rome between 81 and 96 A.D., and repositions this emperor among the great urban planners. His building program is characterized by scale and lavishness as a reflection of his grandeur and by an unprecedented planning for crowd management and circulation in larger public spaces. The imperial complex on the Palatine — the palace, the Domus Tiberiana and the Vigna Barberini — responded efficaciously to the increasing needs of the imperial self-representation and bureaucracy and remained in use after Domitian’s death. Hyperbolic ornamentation met functionality. Traffic control was obtained by the use of original architectural forms such as a horsehoe shape and off-axis entry points in the Porticus Absidata in the forum Transitorium and the innovative solutions adopted in the stadium vestibule in the Campus Martius. The most “Domitianic” aspects of his building program can be identified in regulation of paths of traffic and topographical connections, sightlines and vistas, innovation in architectural design, sensorial experience of Domitian’s Rome, special interest in libraries and horrea, and, last but not least, the importance of water features and landscape design. In conclusion, Domitian’s Rome was beautiful and opulent, functional and comfortable, a city for the emperor but also for the people. This city deserves to be examined and visualized in a way that is holistic, complete, and reflective of its patron’s innovative vision. New architectural and topographical designs aimed at beautification, but also at directing traffic and presenting the viewer with breathtaking vistas, made the Rome of Domitian eternal beyond the emperor’s disgrace.

Steve Renette, PhD (AAMW)

Along the Mountain Passes: Tracing Indigenous Developments of Social Complexity in the Zagros Region during the Early Bronze Age (ca. 3500–2000 BCE)


The earliest historical records of Mesopotamian states of the last centuries of the third millennium BCE document their close interaction with peoples and polities in the hills and mountains of the Zagros and Trans-Tigridian region. The origins and sociopolitical organization of these peoples remain poorly understood largely due to the limited archaeological fieldwork undertaken in this region. However, numerous Mesopotamian administrative records, literary sources, and archaeological evidence for exchange document a long history of a symbiotic, but frequent antagonistic, relationship between the lowland states and highland peoples. Surveys and excavations in the Zagros and Trans-Tigridian region have struggled with identifying the material culture of the Early Bronze Age, giving the impression of a largely abandoned landscape perhaps inhabited by a few pastoral nomadic tribes. New fieldwork at the site of Kani Shaie in Iraqi Kurdistan conducted in the context of this dissertation between 2012–16 and an analysis of the unpublished survey and excavation records of the Mahi Dasht Survey Project undertaken between 1975–78 in Kermanshah, Iran, by L. Levine of the Royal Ontario Museum, has revealed previously unrecognized Early Bronze Age local material culture, especially in the form of indigenous painted ceramic traditions and administrative practices. This allows a reevaluation of the Early Bronze Age in the Zagros region, which demonstrates that the region remained densely inhabited throughout the third millennium BCE albeit with significant shifts in the organization of interregional interaction. Following the collapse of the Late Chalcolithic directional interaction network that had connected distant settlements and allowed the spread of the “Uruk” material culture throughout the fourth millennium BCE, the first centuries of the Early Bronze Age saw the emergence of distinct cultural zones occupying different altitudinal-ecological regions (plains; hills; intermontane valleys). These different societies formed an interaction sphere in which intersocietal exchange of resources, ideas, and perhaps people, occurred periodically at border sites located in the interstitial zones between different landscapes. Finally, in the second half of the third millennium, Mesopotamian states again sought to establish direct contact with distant lands to obtain resources, thereby establishing a new directional network that profoundly changed power relationships and indigenous social structures.


Darren Ashby, PhD (NELC)

Late third millennium BCE Religious Architecture at Tell Al-Hiba, Ancient Lagash


Tell al-Hiba, ancient Lagash, is one of the largest mounds in southern Iraq and part of one of the most important third-millennium BCE city-states on the Mesopotamian floodplain. A joint expedition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University conducted six seasons of excavation at the site between 1968 and 1990. However, despite the site’s significance, data from the excavations have only been published as preliminary reports. In this dissertation, I analyze the late third millennium (ca. 2600–2100 BCE) religious architecture from Tell al-Hiba using the original excavation records. My research focuses on two major temple complexes: the Ibgal of Inana and the Bagara of Ningirsu. Both complexes are well-attested in textual records throughout the latter half of the third millennium BCE. Through this work, I identify a new type of temple layout, demonstrate the existence of a regional religious architectural tradition, and reconstruct the layout and contents of the earliest well-excavated kitchen/brewery in a temple complex in southern Mesopotamia. Further, I contribute to rectifying the imbalance between textual and archaeological data concerning temples and temple activities during this period.

Susannah Fishman, PhD (ANTH)

Ceramic Entanglements in the Urartian Periphery: Technology as the Nexus of Politics and Practice


This project examines the dynamic relationship between political context and technological practice by investigating how ceramic production at local centers in Naxçıvan, Azerbaijan shifted with the changing political landscape. The regional center of Oğlanqala was one of many locally governed polities in the Early Iron Age (1200-800 BCE), became a vassal on the edge of the Urartian Empire in the Middle Iron Age (800-600 BCE), and finally had to survive on the battlefield between Parthia and Rome in the Classical Period (200 BCE-100 CE). Technological production is always embedded in a social context, and new political configurations create new desires, changing methods of identity construction, and shifting market access. In order to reconstruct the ceramic production sequence— including raw material acquisition, forming, decoration, and exchange— samples were analyzed using petrography, neutron activation analysis (NAA), scanning electron microscopy-electron dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS), surface treatment analysis, and formal stylistic analysis. By layering this information, it was possible to document how inhabitants of Naxçıvan employed ceramic technology as a means of negotiating changing relationships. In the Early Iron Age, ceramics were locally produced within a regional stylistic tradition. Later, Urartian imperial expansion promoted a diversification of style and local material use alongside a significant expansion of multi-directional exchange. In contrast, Roman Period ceramics were produced within a uniform stylistic and technological tradition common throughout the Roman east, but half of the pottery was imported from Artashat, the capital of Roman Armenia. This imperial borderland was never completely incorporated into its powerful neighbors, and technological practices materialized changing relationships of engagement, ambivalence, and resistance.

Irene Sibbing Plantholt, PhD (NELC)

The image of divine healers: healing goddesses and the legitimization of the Asû in the Mesopotamian medical marketplace


This dissertation is aimed at providing new perspectives on Mesopotamian medicine by reconstructing its social history and paving a path for interdisciplinary research. The strategy chosen for this dissertation is to investigate and define transitions in the role and appearance of healing goddesses – the representations of Mesopotamian medicine and illness in the divine realm – and their relationship with the asû in order to gain understanding of the medical marketplace and how Mesopotamian professional or scholarly healers perceived their expertise, knowledge and role. The study consists of three sections. First, it presents a survey of textual, archaeological and iconographical evidence from three millennia in order to analyze the individual origins, cults and personae of the Mesopotamian healing goddesses. The healing goddesses considered are those who were called asû and were associated with each other through shared features and households: Gula/Meme, Ninkarrak, Ninisina, Bau and Nintinuga. A synchronic and diachronic analysis is given for each goddess, as well as of her healing qualities over time and her relationship with the asû. The second part is an examination of the asû and his role in the Mesopotamian medical marketplace throughout Mesopotamian history based on sources outside the medical scholarly literature, such as administrative texts and letters. This reveals that the asû was a term applied to healers operating in different segments of society and different sectors of the health care system alongside a variety of other healers. In the Kassite period, some asûs developed a scholarly identity. In the third part, this phenomenon is considered against the parallel development of Gula, who at this time became the healing goddess per excellence and embodied medical scholarship. It is shown that from the Kassite period on, Gula was employed as a divine legitimizing model for the scholarly asûs in the textual and iconographic material in order for the latter to become more competitive in the Mesopotamian medical marketplace. This tension between different kinds of healers and the legitimization of professional healers can be demonstrated in a wide range of times and places, including the modern western world, which lays a foundation for future comparative research.

Anna Sitz, PhD (AAMW)

The Writing on the Wall: Inscriptions and Memory in the Temples of Late Antique Greece and Asia Minor


This dissertation documents late antique (fourth to seventh century CE) Christian responses to earlier, pagan inscriptions at sanctuaries, as seen in the archaeological record. I argue that Christians in Greece and Asia Minor neither ignored nor unthinkingly destroyed older inscriptions, but rather were generally tolerant toward these legible reminders of the pagan past, selectively editing them only occasionally. In order to clarify the types of inscriptions that Christians encountered on temple walls and architraves, I have assembled the first catalog of inscriptions on temples, which reveals that the majority of texts inscribed on sacred structures between the seventh century BCE and the third century CE were, counterintuitively, not about religion, but rather civic matters: political privileges, economic/territorial rights, and elite social structures. This data further reveals regional variations and chronological trends in the ancient practice of inscribing temples, including a proclivity for the practice in Caria and a break in the Roman imperial period from the Hellenistic habit of inscribing important documents on temples. Christian reception of these inscribed texts is explored in depth at six sites: Ankara, Sagalassos, Labraunda, the Corycian Cave (Cilicia) Clifftop Temple, Aizanoi, and Aphrodisias. Inscriptions on temples at these sites have been overlooked in late antique scholarship because of disciplinary biases. Art historical/archaeological studies have traditionally fixated on the original appearance of monuments rather than their full lifespan, while epigraphic publications often treat texts as historical data rather than elements of larger, trans-temporal architectural settings. Each of these sites shows a different approach toward the older inscriptions, including preservation in place, reuse, modification, and erasure. I argue that the civic-focused nature of the majority of inscribed texts on temple walls inflected late antique conceptualization of temples and provided a counterbalance to the negative, polemical depiction of temples presented in hagiographical texts. This study therefore adds a new facet to our understanding of Christianization between the ancient Roman and early Byzantine periods.


Peter J. Cobb, PhD (AAMW)

Computational analyses of archaeological ceramics: The second millennium BCE ceramics of the Marmara Lake Basin in their western Anatolian regional context


This dissertation investigates the social processes and interactions of people living in central western Anatolia during the second millennium BCE through a detailed analysis of archaeological ceramics. The pottery sherds collected by the Central Lydia Archaeological Survey (CLAS) within the Marmara Lake Basin are the main focus of this research. These sherds are contextualized through comparison to a database of regional ceramic sherds created for this dissertation. The main properties of the ceramic vessels considered include form, external surface color, and a basic characterization of fabric. An analysis of these characteristics helps to address a variety of archaeological research goals, including the development of an understanding of the main functional categories of ceramic vessel shapes and their implications for past social practices. The analysis also considers colors and fabrics to further understand vessel use and presentation, as well as the sharing of ideas about the production process. These comparisons lead to an investigation of the interconnections and interactions among communities. This dissertation also experiments with digital data and computational analytical methods for archaeological ceramics in order to explore how these techniques can help advance these research goals. Techniques applied to the ceramic data include automatic shape-matching algorithms, graph visualizations of sherd relationships, and spatial analysis of pottery distributions. Preliminary results seem to indicate possible shared social functions involving eating and drinking based on a preference for bowls of various sizes. The prevalence of monochrome vessels in medium-fine fabrics hints at the desire to copy metal originals. Differences in color preferences across the region and through time indicate divergent firing processes. The local topography of river valleys separated by mountain ranges appears to constrain the networks of interaction in central western Anatolia. Based on pottery similarities, the Marmara Lake Basin seems most closely connected with the nearby Akhisar plain and to a lesser extent with the sites on the routes to the Aegean Sea. Digital data and computational analysis applications for archaeological ceramics hold out much potential for advancing an understanding of the past, but they depend on a significant increase in the availability of high-quality digitized pottery comparanda.

Amanda Reiterman, PhD (AAMW)

Keimêlia: Objects curated in the ancient Mediterranean (8th5th centuries B.C.)


Archaeologists occasionally encounter artifacts that might be described as “curated” in antiquity either because these objects significantly predate the other items in their assemblage or exhibit ancient repairs. While easily overlooked or dismissed as residual, these anomalous artifacts have the potential to inform us about the intimate relationships between people and things in antiquity and ancient attitudes toward the past. This dissertation develops an interdisciplinary approach to identifying and interpreting such artifacts, referred to here by their ancient Greek name—keimêlia, meaning valued things that were kept or stored for extended periods. The corpus of keimêlia gathered for this investigation is drawn primarily from 8th to 5th century B.C. contexts across the Mediterranean, and encompassing the Greek heartland, colonies, and non-Greek communities. This broad chronological and geographic scope reveals a spectrum of behaviors toward old or damaged objects in diverse cultural contexts. The idiosyncratic nature of keimêlia and their uses requires that they be evaluated qualitatively rather than quantitatively. Case studies focusing on individual keimêlia explore how archaeologists might disentangle the motives for ancient curation (e.g. function, economics, aesthetics, and sentiment) and recognize the nuanced roles of keimêlia as companion objects, mementoes, heirlooms, entangled objects, antiques, and found objects. Comparative archaeology, ethnographic research, and modern consumer studies place keimêlia within a larger framework by illuminating cross-cultural parallels in the attributes of objects from the past and their uses, including the assignment of magical or mythic significance to things from remote antiquity, the recurrent association of children with older objects, and the frequent curation of non-local or rare objects. These intersections suggest that the potential meanings of objects from the past—as talismans, mechanisms for articulating layers of a person or group’s identity, and mnemonic apparatuses—are related to different types of distance: temporal, cultural, and interpersonal. Although portable objects have been largely neglected in the recent wave of scholarship examining memory in the ancient Mediterranean, the study of keimêlia indicates that people here did, in fact, use objects to map their personal histories and to negotiate the place of that past in their present.

Jamie Sanecki, PhD (ARTH)

Cathedral and commune in medieval Lucca: the façade of San Martino


The richly decorated facade of the cathedral of San Martino in Lucca is both a masterpiece of Tuscan medieval art and a witness to the political and social developments of its era. Created between the late twelfth and the mid-thirteenth century, its rise paralleled that of Lucca as an independent city-state and the transfer of power from the city’s bishop to its citizens. This dissertation interprets the facade and its decoration as a direct response to these changes. It begins with a summary of San Martino’s history and a detailed examination of the documents pertaining to the cathedral opera, the administrative body overseeing the facade’s construction. Based on this material, it proposes that San Martino’s bishop and canons should be seen as the facade’s principal intellectual designers and shows how these individuals used this monument to maintain their institution’s centrality in Lucca’s public life and to overcome the internal divisions that threatened their city’s stability. Communicating through architectural form, intarsia, and sculpture, San Martino’s clergy encouraged Lucca’s citizens to understand their city as a sacred space, deployed ornamental imagery calculated to appeal to a broad swath of the population, and presented images of saints that served as models of both episcopal and lay behavior. Looking at San Martino in this way allows us to recognize the local character and originality of Lucchese art and architecture, as well as the interdependence of religious and political life in medieval Italy.


Margaret Andrews, PhD (AAMW)

Matron, Meretrix, Madonna: An Archaeology and Urban History of the Subura Valley and Cispian Hill in Rome from the Republic through the Early Middle Ages


The Subura in Rome was notorious in ancient literary testimony for seedy street life, but it has lacked a systematic study of the material record to nuance these texts. This dissertation is the first comprehensive examination of the archaeology and social history of the Subura valley and Cispian hill in Rome. Based on new fieldwork and reexaminations of previous documentation, it presents the material evidence for the Subura’s development and largely elite occupation from the Republican through early medieval periods and analyzes its physical and functional transformations amidst the broader historical and cultural changes that Rome experienced during this timeframe. It considers the development during each period of the residential and monumental landscapes together, revealing a relationship between them and the active, but overlooked role that the residents played in constructing the broader significance of the valley. ^ Despite dramatic religious shifts and a significant reconfiguration of the topography from the Roman to the Christian period, an ideology of feminine virtue as a civic value persisted in the Subura’s monuments and landscape. In the Roman period, the sanctuary of Juno Lucina, which commemorated the pious Sabine women and their act of bearing heirs to Rome’s founders, anchored a network of cults and monuments associated with womanhood spanning the valley. In the late empire, however, the Subura’s residents became more religiously heterogeneous, until Christianity emerged as the predominant religion of the empire. In Late Antiquity, the Roman concept of feminine virtue was recast within a Christian framework centered on the figure of Mary as an intercessor. The early fifth-century papal basilica of S. Maria Maggiore on the Cispian, the first Marian church in the West, anchored a new Christian topography that emerged throughout the Subura, while, in the early medieval period, Marian processions through the valley to the basilica imbued the landscape with the notion of Mary as the bearer of Christ the Savior. This study of the Subura thus illustrates not only the mutability of an urban fabric within shifting historical and cultural contexts, but also the persistence in the landscape of deep-rooted social and religious ideologies over the longue durée.

Emerson Avery, PhD (AAMW)

Marsala’s Hinterland: The Evolution of Roman Settlement in Western Sicily


This thesis comprises a study of the evolution of human settlement in the hinterland of Marsala, in western Sicily, during the island’s period of Roman control. The years between the third century BCE–eighth century CE were a period of frequent and significant change. Paradoxically, they are also a period during which Sicily is comparatively little known. A variety of factors have conspired to minimize scholarly attention on Roman Sicily, and as such, the ways in which the island responded to events in the wider Roman Mediterranean. Among the aims of the Marsala Hinterland Survey—an archaeological survey project active between 2007–2010—was to redress this imbalance. On the basis of ceramic materials collected during surface survey, and analyzed using Geographical Information Systems software, I reconstruct the history of settlement in the area of the survey’s activity. This history, I go on to demonstrate, is characterized by an impressive degree of continuity, both in respect of the location and distribution of settlement. I locate the reasons for this continuity, and the moments of its occasional rupture, in the changing relationship between native Sicilian and Roman interests, especially as they relate to the production and shipment of grain throughout the Roman empire.

Jordan Pickett, PhD (NELC)

Water after Antiquity in the Eastern Mediterranean: the Afterlives of Roman Hydraulic Infrastructure (300 – 800 CE)


The aim of this dissertation is to assess factors that contributed to the survival or failure of Roman water management infrastructure and practices in the eastern Mediterranean, between Roman antiquity and the early medieval period (c. 0 – 800 CE). Why did some Roman water systems survive for centuries, even until today, while others collapsed after only a few decades of functionality? Individual components of Roman water infrastructure are well described by engineers as technological artifacts. Less understood are the factors that contributed to the resilience or fragility of Roman water systems in late antiquity. These include physical or natural factors, such as climate and geology, but also politico-administrative priorities, and socio-cultural factors, such as the perceived value of monumental architecture or preferences for drinking water sources. After a review of scientific climate proxies for the Levant, which was more climatically susceptible to water scarcity than other areas of the empire, Jarash is introduced as a case study that identifies infrastructural responses to climatically induced water stress in Northern Jordan after the fifth century CE. However, because similar adaptations are visible in areas of the empire with very different climate trajectories, it is posited that socio-cultural and administrative shifts were more important for the evolution of water systems in late antiquity. Procopius is adduced as a lens, understudied until now, through which we can view shifts in late antique urbanism and the trajectory of the state’s interest in water infrastructure, as they are presented in a conservative text of the sixth century. The last chapters offer a detailed analysis of the literary, epigraphic, and archaeological remains of urban water systems in the late antique Eastern Mediterranean in order to demonstrate the surprising diversity, longevity, range, and impact of Roman water systems in cities after antiquity, beyond the traditional seventh-century boundary for the survival of Roman cities in Byzantium.

Zeljko Rezek, PhD (ANTH)

Temporalities in stone provisioning in the Middle Paleolithic stone artifact record of the cave of Pech de l’Aze ́IV in southwest France: insights into the variability in Neandertal landscape use


Interpretation of variability in the Middle Paleolithic stone artifact record continues to be one of the major research questions in the Pleistocene archaeology of Europe. Current interpretations of this variability are shifting from culture-historical explanations towards ones related with Neandertal use of the landscape in economic sense: strategies of mobility and resource procurement. These interpretations nonetheless reduce this behavior to one meaning behind a particular set of techno-typological traits in the stone artifact record. Contributing to this problem is the conventional concept of this record as comprised of archaeological assemblages defined on the basis of natural interfaces and perceived as emic entities that contain functionally associated artifacts of time-averaged behavioral events. This dissertation investigates temporalities of processes related to stone provisioning by Neandertals during their use of the cave of Pech de l’Azé IV in south-west France to contribute to understanding the variability in their landscape use from Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5 until MIS 3 in this region. This stone artifact sequence is sampled by the same number of stone artifacts, following the general history of their accumulation. The analysis examines behavioral processes of stone movement, blank production, tool selection, and tool management, and the dynamics among these processes is used to infer the degree of variability in the use of this place and the degree of variability in the use of stone as components of variability in landscape use. The results show certain patterns in the association between different degrees of variability in landscape use and the three isotope stages and the record of particular techno-typological attributes. During MIS 5, the degree of variability in landscape use fluctuated more than during post-MIS 5 times, when the variability in this behavior was constantly higher. Low variability in landscape use left the record with higher incidences of Levallois elements, while moderate or high variability in this behavior produced the record that is technologically less uniform. Also, until MIS 3, there was a cyclical pattern in the degree of variability in landscape use. Finally, this dissertation argues for the abandonment of the concept of assemblage in stone artifact archaeology.


Sam Lin, PhD (ANTH)

Experimentation and scientific inference building in the study of hominin behavior through stone artifact archaeology


Since the beginning of prehistoric archaeology, various methods and approaches have been developed to describe and explain stone artifact variability. However, noticeably less attention has been paid to the ontological nature of stone artifacts and the adequateness of the inferential reasoning for drawing archaeological interpretations from these artifacts. This dissertation takes a scientific perspective to rethink critically the ways that current lithic approaches generate knowledge about past hominin behavior from stone artifacts through experimentation (Chapter 2), and further, to explore the use of controlled experiments and uniformitarian principles for deriving inferences. The latter is presented as two case studies about Late Pleistocene Neanderthal behavior in southwestern France (Chapter 3 & 4). Archaeological reasoning is inescapably analogical, and archaeological knowledge is bound to be established on the basis on modern observations. However, simplistic treatments of archaeological analogs often result in inferences of questionable validity. In this dissertation, it is argued that greater attention is required to consider the implication of experimental design, variable control, and analogic reasoning in the construction of archaeological inference from stone artifacts. It is argued that the ability to move beyond the constraint of modern analogs in archaeological knowledge production lies in the use of uniformitarian principles that operate independently from the research questions archaeologists wish to evaluate. By examining the uniformitarian connection between platform attributes and flake morphology, the first case study explores how the production of unretouched flakes can be altered in ways that increase their relative utility, as reflected in the ratio of edge length to mass. Application of this relationship to Middle Paleolithic assemblages shows two modes of flake production pattern, possibly related to different ways Neanderthal groups managed the utility of transported tool-kits. The second case study applies a geometric model to assess the lithic cortex proportion in the Middle Paleolithic study assemblages. An excess or deficit of cortex relative to artifact volume provides an indication of possible artifact transport to or from the assemblage locality. Results show correlation between assemblage cortex proportions and paleoenvironmental conditions, suggesting possible shifts in Neanderthal artifact transport pattern and land use during the late Pleistocene.


Joann Baron, PhD (ANTH)

Patrons of La Corona: Deities and power in a Classic Maya Community


While political power in ancient societies has often been described by archaeologists applying cross-cultural or universal models of political institutions, unequal social relationships are better described by examining the meaning of individual actions and discourses in past societies. In this dissertation, the insights of semiotic anthropology are applied to a set of religious practices of the Classic period Maya (AD 250-900) in order to understand their relationship to political power. Members of this society venerated patron gods, deities believed to provide abundance and protection to specific communities. Patron deity veneration is explored through three lines of evidence: archaeological remains of patron deity temples and veneration rituals; epigraphic texts that discuss patron deities; and ethnographic and historical data relating to religious practices from later periods. It is argued that patron deities can be distinguished from other categories of supernatural being, such as ancestors or general gods, by the specific rituals used to venerate them, their status as symbols of community identity, and their perceived ability to influence the world of humans. Patron deity veneration was used by rulers of the Classic period and later periods to justify and legitimize their authority. They claimed close, personal connections to patron gods and publicly proclaimed the arduous burden of religious ritual. The use of patron deity veneration in local politics is explored at the site of La Corona, Guatemala. Archaeological and epigraphic evidence are used together to demonstrate that new patron deities were introduced into the community after a period of civil conflict. Two elite families vied for political control of La Corona, using ancestor veneration and patron deity veneration as symbolic media to justify their competing claims. The replacement of old ancestor shrines with new patron deity temples signified the shifting politics of the community. Using La Corona as a case study, it is argued that Classic Maya politics are best described by attending to the significance of specific social actions, such as patron deity veneration rituals, and the discourses that accompanied those acts.

Miriam Clinton, PhD (AAMW)

Access and circulation pattern analysis in Neopalatial architecture on Crete: A methodology for identifying private spaces


To modern eyes, the internal logic expected in architecture is lacking in Minoan structures. Minoan buildings and the spaces within them were complex and multi-use, rather than functionally derived and specific, and the modern concept of privacy did not exist. As a necessary step in the process of understanding how the Minoans utilized their architecture, this dissertation creates a new method of determining whether spaces were seen as public or private, or rather where they fit on a spectrum. ^ The methodology presented in the dissertation is a typology of access and circulation patterns, which provides a means of assessing relative privacy. The management of access and circulation by means of fixed architectural features forms the basis for the new typology. Within the typology, five circulation patterns are identified; they are, from most to least private: room to room, matrix, circulatory nexus, corridor, and exterior. Additionally, there exists a sixth morphological variant, bent axis, which increases the privacy of the other types. ^ The dissertation applies the typology to examples from the corpus of Minoan houses: Nirou Chani, Kommos, Pseira, the Mochlos Artisans’ Quarters Building A, and the Mochlos Chalinomouri Farmhouse Building A. Based on the typology, the dissertation addresses the relative privacy of spaces within the structures on two levels: that of the inhabitants in relation to other inhabitants and that of inhabitants in relation to visitors. For each case study, the results of access and circulation pattern analysis are then supplemented by the evidence of artifacts. ^ Unlike Gamma Analysis or other quantitative methods, this typology does not divorce the measurement of access and circulation from the plans or the finds. It is easy to apply in the field to guide research. As a result, the typology both confirms and clarifies the interpretations made about structures by archaeologists. Finally, the study provides new evidence of how the Minoans viewed privacy, which will assist in future interpretations of functions. The access and circulation pattern typology provides valuable new evidence about Minoan architecture and its usage.

Kristin Fellows, PhD (ANTH)

African Americans from “back yonder”: The historical archaeology of the formation, maintenance, and dissolution of the American enclave in Samaná, Dominican Republic


By the end of 1825, 6,000 African Americans had left the United States to settle in the free black Republic of Haiti. After arriving on the island, 200 immigrants formed an enclave in what is now Samaná, Dominican Republic. The Americans in Samaná continued to speak English, remained Protestant (in a country of devout Catholics), and retained American cultural practices for over 150 years. Relying on historical archaeological methods, this dissertation explores the processes of community formation, maintenance, and dissolution, while paying particular attention to intersections of race and nation. Fieldwork took place in the Spring and Summer of 2010 and involved local archival research, oral history interviews, and an aboveground survey of the cemetery in Samaná. Oral histories stemming from linguistic research conducted in the 1980s were also incorporated into this study. Analyses show that the geopolitical isolation of the Samaná Peninsula, in addition to the immigrants’ status as a large minority within a small but diverse population, allowed for the relatively unhindered formation of the American community. The immigrants and their descendants defined themselves in relation to the broader Samanesa population through their use of English, emphasis on a formal, English-language education for their children, their honesty and Protestant work ethic, and their devotion to God and their Methodist churches. Yet the 1930s, which saw the rise and adverse impact of the Trujillo regime, brought a series of changes to the town which led to the Americans’ diminished social status and eventual loss of community cohesion. Finally, the American enclave in Samaná is placed into a broader context; the impact on the community of the various racialized national projects with which it has contended is examined. In addition, the Americans in Samaná are then looked at as a case study in processes of transnationalism and globalization.

Joshua Jeffers, PhD (NELC)

Tiglath-pileser I: A Light in a “Dark Age”


This dissertation re-evaluates the reign of Tiglath-pileser I in light of new evidence provided by recently published cuneiform tablets and by archaeological excavations in Syria. I first establish a historical context for Tiglath-pileser’s reign within the broader ancient Near East, highlighting the importance of his documentation for historical reconstruction during a time when most of the political and administrative structures across the region had collapsed. As a result of this turmoil, those structures produced few textual sources, leading to what scholars have called a “dark age”—a designation applied to a period in which documentation is lacking, thus preventing scholars from reconstructing its history. With this foundation, I turn to an examination of Tiglath-pileser I’s reign.

My dissertation provides a more precise sequencing of the king’s eponyms and revises the period’s chronology—both absolute and relative. My exploration of the absolute chronology shows that the Assyrians likely utilized a lunar calendar until the early years of Tiglath-pileser I’s second successor, Aššur-bēl-kala. This discovery buttresses the approach in some recent scholarship to date the reigns of Middle Assyrian kings by lunar instead of solar years. However, my work demonstrates that this calendrical system should also apply to Tiglath-pileser’s reign, thus leading to a re-dating of his regnal years. With respect to refining the relative chronology, my research emphasizes the historical reconstruction of events surrounding Tiglath-pileser’s two campaigns against Babylonia that may help to secure regnal dates for its kings.

Apart from chronological inquiries, my project re-assesses the literary structures of Tiglath-pileser’s royal inscriptions and delineates their evolution with respect to the inscriptions of previous Assyrian kings. I also collect the data of the economic texts and the excavations of sites in the Assyrian periphery to explicate the differences between the aforementioned royal propaganda and the true governing mechanisms of the kingdom. This dissertation redefines our understanding of the political and historical context in which Tiglath-pileser I ruled, resulting in an innovative reconstruction of this transformative king’s reign in a “dark age” of ancient Near Eastern history.

Sarah Kurnick, PhD (ANTH)

Negotiating the contradictions of political authority: An archaeological case study from Callar Creek, Belize


Antonio Morales, PhD (NELC)

The transmission of the pyramid texts into the Middle Kingdom: Philological aspects of a continuous tradition in Egyptian mortuary literature


This dissertation focuses on the dissemination and use of texts originally used in royal pyramids during the First Intermediate Period and the Middle Kingdom. As late as the reign of Unas (ca. 2375-2345 BCE), the prominent priesthood at Memphis undertook the task of fixing these recitations into writing so that they could be transferred onto the walls of the pyramids and thus benefit the deceased king. At the end of the Old Kingdom, however, these texts began appearing in the tombs and coffins of high-status officials and priests of the provinces, who soon integrated these time-honored texts into their ritual practices and mortuary monuments.^ This dissertation addresses the literary and textual aspects of this process of transmission, focusing on the scribal mechanisms for adapting the royal texts of Memphis to the smaller venues of non-royal tombs and coffins, and the theological speculative movements that transformed the compositions in accordance with local beliefs and ritual practices. It also deals with the transmission of the series of Pyramid Texts of Nut by examining its textual variations (errors and differences) and genealogical relationships. In addition, it focuses on questions of social inequality, access to royal privileges and the transformation of Egyptian society in the third and second millennia BCE. The conclusions of my research demonstrate that the transmission of mortuary literature in the Old and Middle Kingdom operated as an uninterrupted cultural phenomenon that encompassed coexisting streams of transmission and two major bodies of compositions, Pyramid Texts and Coffin Texts. In addition, the study validates the degree of adaptability of the Pyramid Texts, a corpus whose heterogeneous characteristics allowed priests and scribes to adapt tradition to new settings by re-arranging texts, preparing new versions, and combining them with novel compositions.^ This dissertation challenges Egyptology’s monolithic understanding of the mortuary texts as a novel invention created in the interest of the crown, and instead pinpoints the origin of these collections in the private oral domain, identifies a wider range of uses for these texts in both royal and private contexts, and emphasizes the relationship of the multiplicity of textual programs with local ritual traditions.

Kelcy Sagstetter, PhD (ANCH)

Solon of Athens: the man, the myth, the tyrant?


I argue that, despite Solon’s reputation as an enemy of tyranny, his approach to solving the political discord in Athens in 594 B.C. very closely resembles the way that archaic Greek tyrants succeeded at dealing with similar problems in other city-states. Because tyrants were often popular figures with widespread support, I suggest that Solon’s anxiety to avoid the label of tyrant stemmed from the political unrest and bloodshed that arose from the attempted tyranny of Cylon in 632 BC, followed by the harsh and unsuccessful legislation of Drakon in 621. In the dissertation, I first establish that there are two traditions about Solon’s motives and actions, indicated by many contradictions in our sources. In one version, Solon appears as a moderate politician who paved the way for the rise of democracy, in part because of his refusal to become a tyrant. In the other, Solon’s actions were at times indistinguishable from those of contemporary tyrants, which later sources explain by referring to Solon’s assertions in his own poetry to “prove” that these stories were false. I then analyze Solon’s poetry, noting that Solon both linguistically distances himself from the concept of tyranny and emphasizes that he does, in fact, possess autocratic powers. The result is a kind of verbal dance, wherein he reminds people: “I am not, nor do1 I wish to be a tyrant; but I could be, and if I were….” Finally, I examine various tyrants who, like Solon, had reputations as legislators. I consider Solon’s agricultural reforms, known as the seisachtheia, concentrating in particular on the abolition of debt-slavery, the cancellation of debt, and Solon’s refusal to redistribute land. I find that debt cancellation in particular is one of the most common measures used by tyrants as a means of gathering political support from the demos. I also proffer the notion that doing away with debt-slavery may have done more damage than good, concluding that, despite his protests to the contrary, Solon was a tyrant in all but name.


Seth G. Bernard, PhD (ANCH)



This dissertation investigates how Rome organized and paid for the considerable amount of labor that went into the physical transformation of the Middle Republican city. In particular, it considers the role played by the cost of public construction in the socioeconomic history of the period, here defined as 390 to 168 B.C. During the Middle Republic, Rome expanded its dominion first over Italy and then over the Mediterranean. As it developed into the political and economic capital of its world, the city itself went through transformative change, recognizable in a great deal of new public infrastructure. While historians have long considered Rome’s rise vis-à-vis Italy or the Mediterranean world, the study of the contemporary urban situation has largely remained confined to formalist or topographic investigations. This thesis offers a new, more synthetic study, which draws from a variety of evidence from literary and documentary sources to numismatics and archaeological material. Because of this combinatory approach, the project speaks across specialties within the field of Classical studies, to ancient historians and archaeologists alike. Four analytical chapters arranged both chronologically and thematically are appended with a detailed catalog of all known building projects during the time period containing field reports on those sites that have archaeological remains. The results demonstrate and in some cases quantify the high amount of labor needed to build the city’s new public infrastructure. In part in order to absorb such costs, Rome’s urban

society transformed its Archaic economy into one that was broadly monetized and more reliant on contractual forms of labor. Such a change allowed for the massive income from the newly established Republican empire to be matched to an increasing urban supply of non-agricultural workers, as well as to a rising demand for public architecture from the office-holding Roman elite. By focusing on the labor behind the production of the Mid-Republican city, this dissertation reveals the urban expansion of Rome as a physical process on a human scale.

Federico A. Paredes-Umaña, PhD (ANTH)



The Jaguar Head Core Zone in Southeastern Mesoamerica is an original proposal that allows exploration of local symbols and regional dynamics as complementary processes in the formation of early complex societies by examining how several sculptural traditions can be used to illuminate the dynamics of social life during the Late Preclassic period. The core zone is defined by the geographical distribution of a monumental tradition originally identified by Francis Richardson in his 1940 article “Non-Maya Monumental Sculpture of Central America.” The Jaguar head monumental tradition consist of stylized faces carved in the round and distributed mainly in the modern territories of western El Salvador encompassing an area of some 3000 sq km to the east of the Paz River. In light of new evidence, the Jaguar Head monumental tradition is proposed as the representation of a magico-religious behavior described by many authors as shamanism. The evidence considered here shows that the Jaguar Head sculptural tradition emerges during the Late Preclassic period, and is coeval with the centralization of political power in a regional scenario of early states and early rulership cults that rise through localized strategies for power legitimization. A transition from non-institutional belief systems into an early state religion is described as the process that precedes the emergence of regional capitals along Southeastern Mesoamerica. The jaguar head core zone represents the opportunity to document social change and local contributions to a regional canon.

Julia Perratore, PhD (ARTH)



Santa María de Uncastillo (1135–55), built during a crucial period of repopulation following the Christian conquest of northern Iberia, reveals the impacts of migration and social change upon the visual arts. Long the site of an impregnable fortress on the frontier between Christian-ruled Aragon and Muslim-ruled al-Andalus, by the early twelfth century Uncastillo suddenly found itself far from the frontlines as Christian armies began to advance rapidly southward. The diminishing threat of invasion allowed Uncastillo to transform from a stronghold to a town, and a series of financial incentives, titles and privileges granted by the kings of Aragon attracted settlers to develop urban space. Repopulation entailed the establishment of roots, the formation of strong religious and civic communities, and the development of the built environment, all crucial to the town’s success. These factors find expression in Santa María’s architectural sculpture, which responded to the social and spiritual needs of parish and town alike. The ensemble itself was the product of enthusiastic trans-Pyrenean exchange between sculptors, though its content also speaks to the movement of people and their daily collaborations in a new environment. Notable for its unusual profusion of profane imagery, Santa María addressed social change using a vernacular visual language. In providing the first comprehensive consideration of Santa María’s sculptural iconography, organization and style, this dissertation examines how monumental imagery constructed notions of community in order to shape belief and behavior, promoting cohesion and stability during an era of transformation. As a parish church, Santa María offers an opportunity to reorient scholarly discourses of image theory and reception to focus on the major, but little-known, lay viewership of the medieval town. With this in mind, the present study examines visual strategies of communication between clergy and laity, which emphasized the role of the individual within the community at large.


Susan Helft, PhD (AAMW)



At the end of the Late Bronze Age, the Hittites created a successful Empire and ranked among the most powerful players in the international diplomatic club of rulers. Our current understanding of the Hittite Empire is limited by the textually based focus on the “hard power” of Empire; namely military encounters and political organization. The present study expands our view of the nature of the Hittite Empire and its influence abroad through the perspective of socio-cultural and economic exchanges as reflected in the archaeological record. Defined as non-coercive acts of intercultural contact, the notion of exchange replaces a trade-centered approach and takes into account differing levels of political and cultural integration. Such an approach allows for fresh perspectives on the impact of Hittite imperial rule and the mechanisms of imperial power. In particular this study explores the “soft power” that served as an adjunct to diplomatic maneuvering and military might.

Sarah Laursen, PhD (EALC)

Leaves that Sway: Gold Xianbei Cap Ornaments from Northeast China


Over the last fifty years, rich finds of gold objects have been uncovered in China’s northeastern Liaoning province.  These tombs belonged to a tribe of steppe nomads called the Murong Xianbei who settled north of the Great Wall during the Han dynasty and established a succession of short-lived states called Yan that ruled parts of Northeast Asia during the third to fifth centuries CE.  Until now, the history of the Murong and the rapidly emerging field of Murong archaeology have been published almost exclusively in Chinese.   This dissertation seeks to rectify the lack of Western scholarship about this unique border population and their cultural identity as expressed though gold personal adornments.

The gold objects in Murong tombs are typically decorated with some combination of openwork and pendant gold leaves attached by wires, some taking the form of trees or antlers.  These were probably affixed to fabric caps and have been associated with ornaments described in the Chinese histories as buyao (“step-sway”) ornaments because their thin sheet gold leaves tremble and sway with each step the wearer takes.  However, leaf-covered gold crowns and headdresses excavated from tombs across Central Asia, Western Asia, and the Mediterranean have also been proposed as prototypes.   This dissertation considers the existing textual and visual data supporting arguments for local and western origins and arrives at new conclusions concerning the relationships between Murong artisans and their counterparts in China, Central Asia, and the Near East though the careful study of the visible traces of the manufacturing process.

Justin Leidwanger, PhD (AAMW)

Maritime archaeology as economic history: Long-term trends of Roman commerce in the northeast Mediterranean


Leslee Michelsen, PhD (ARTH)



Emily Modrall, PhD (AAMW)

Indigenous identities in Punic western Sicily


Melinda G. Nelson-Hurst, PhD (NELC)



Scholars often remark on the high level of detail at which the ancient Egyptian administration of the Middle Kingdom period (c. 2008–1685 B.C.) operated. Many studies have addressed the titles held by the officials who ran this administration and aimed to reconstruct the hierarchical structure of offices. However, rarely have these studies examined questions related to the officials themselves, including how they obtained their positions. Instead, scholars have frequently relied on the concept of hereditary office as an explanation for how men gained administrative positions. This study examines the careers of officials and their family connections in order to ascertain how these men acquired offices and how this process perpetuated the administration from one generation to another during the Middle Kingdom, thus testing previously held assumptions about office transmission and acquisition practices. This work incorporates two methodologies, first a lexicographical examination of the word i3t to identify the conceptual background of this word and whether it represents the “regular title,” that is, a title that included specific duties and pay and held a level of permanency. Second, a prosopographical study of officeholders examines and compares what the officials who left behind biographical texts tell us about their careers with the strictly genealogical and titular information of a wider selection of officials. The combination of biographical texts with genealogical and titular data provides us with information on officials of various administrative levels who span the period of the Middle Kingdom. The results of the study indicate that hereditary practices were not the main means through which officials obtained their positions during this time. Instead, a variety of factors combined to create an inherently flexible feedback process through which a man’s family helped him gain experience or training to prove his merits in office, which then brought him recognition and promotion from his superiors, resulting in the perpetuation or elevation of the man’s family prestige. Overall, the adaptability of the process for attaining office allowed it to continue, essentially unchanged, from the early Middle Kingdom to the late Middle Kingdom, even while other social and administrative changes took place.

Stephan Zink, PhD (AAMW)



The focus of this dissertation is the sanctuary of Apollo on the Palatine in Rome, which Octavian, the future Augustus, dedicated in 28 B.C. With its marble temple, splendid porticos, and a library, it was the imposing result of Octavian’s successful struggle to become the ‘first man’ in the Roman state. Like no other monument in Rome, the sanctuary of Apollo materializes the transition between the Roman Republic and Empire. Despite its critically important role in the religious and political history of the city, the archaeological remains of the sanctuary have never seen a full architectural and topographical documentation. This project represents the first comprehensive documentation and examination of the material remains preserved at the site, as conducted during nine seasons of new data collection and fieldwork. The results of this fieldwork form the basis for a new understanding of the sanctuary’s architecture and structural history. Both architectural drawings and 3D reconstructions are fundamental aspects of the study, and they provide the key tools in assessing the site’s development and changing functions over the course of nearly seven centuries. The detailed documentation now allows us to identify a series of successive construction phases dating from the Archaic to the Augustan period. New structural observations also force us to fundamentally rethink long-held assumptions about the topography of the Southwestern Palatine as well as its architecture and evolving functions. Contrary to current tenets, the sanctuary of Apollo was deeply embedded in the cultic functions of its site. Several Archaic cult sites determined both the orientation and the layout of all the later buildings on the site, including the structure currently identified as the “House of Octavian/Augustus.” Not a domestic complex, this structure reveals itself instead as the seat of various priestly collegia in the mid-1 st c. B.C. Thus, the Augustan sanctuary of Apollo now emerges as the latest stage in the century-long development of a sacred topography on the Southwestern Palatine.


Jane Hill, PhD (NELC)

Interregional Trade, Cultural Exchange and Specialized Production in the Late Predynastic: Archeological Analysis of el-Amra, Upper Egypt


Recent survey at the well known cemetery site of el-Amra in Upper Egypt has revealed surprising findings, including Late Predynastic settlement and production areas in the low desert near the cultivation. Analysis of surface finds in these areas suggests that the settlement was a focal point for both interregional trade and cultic activity spanning the Naqada IIc-d – to Naqada IIIb period. This study uses the information gathered through surface collection, geophysical survey and comparative analysis to determine el-Amra position within the settlement and production systems developing in the late Predynastic Period. Pottery analysis and comparisons to the assemblages at other Upper Egyptian settlements at Mahâsna, Naqada, Adaïma and Hierakonpolis provide the temporal and functional comparisons for the site’s distinct areas. El-Amra contains evidence of imported pottery from Lower Egypt and southern Palestine, including the first Upper Egyptian attestation of a locally made domestic ware of a type identified as a “hybrid” Egyptian/Palestinian corpus in EB Ibl period levels at southern Palestinian settlements such as Tel ‘Erani. An identified production area shows evidence that Amratians were manufacturing foreign style pottery forms, possibly for use in the mortuary cult of the Abydos elites. Fragments of open D-Ware vessels found at the site further suggest ritual practice associated with the cemetery of that period. Evidence of sealing practice at the site indicates el-Amra was connected to the larger trading networks at work in the late Predynastic. That the settlement is abandoned in the Naqada IIIb period is an indication that local distribution systems of the late Predynastic are replaced by a more restrictive and centralized control of trade and production under Egypt’s first kings. That el-Amra, a site relatively close to the early royal center at Abydos is not immune to this restrictive control is a strong indication of the degree to which the First Dynasty rulers reserved all symbols of wealth and exotic foreign imports for themselves. It might also be an indication new settlement patterns inposed by the fledgling Egyptian state.

John Henry Rice, PhD (ARTH)

Kanara temples: architectural transactions on the edge of empire


Karnataka’s coastal tract, Kanara, underwent dramatic transformations with its incorporation into the Vijayanagara Empire in the 14th century. Formerly quite isolated, the narrow zone became a crucial territorial linchpin in the functioning of the upland empire, serving as its primary international trade and communications link. Kanara’s longstanding dynasty of autonomous kings was replaced by a complex, multi-layered administrative structure under which the vast majority of the region was left to the governance of a constellation of local chieftains, their rule only loosely linked to a minimal imperial presence maintained in three of the zone’s port cities. Powerful trans-territorial trade guilds formed a third layer in the region’s authoritative structure, one that facilitated the bonds between the center and this coastal periphery. One result of Kanara’s sudden economic stimulation was a boom in temple building, much of it in unprecedented architectural modes. This study posits that these temples were sites where the delicate balance of the region’s political structures and the relationships between its local chieftains and their imperial overlords could be conspicuously negotiated. Employed to test this hypothesis are three distinct case studies–the region’s best-known and most impressive monument, a series of small temples at a single site, and a group of dispersed monuments connected by a common typology–patronized by differing combinations of the region’s three layers of overlapping authority. Through both formal and inscriptional evidence, this study reveals how these monuments were used across an entire spectrum of modes of negotiation, from a statement of collaboration between the imperial center and multiple political entities in the peripheral zone, to an attempt by a newly immigrant mercantile community to incorporate itself into the economic mainstream flowing to the capital, to bold assertions of autonomy by Kanara’s chieftains. These monuments illuminate the complexities of this coastal province’s political and economic relationships with Vijayanagara and help to reshape our understanding of the interdependencies in the structures of this South Indian empire straddling the boundaries of the late-medieval and early-modern periods.

Teagan A. Schweitzer, PhD (ANTH)

Philadelphia Foodways Ca. 1750-1850: An Historical Archaeology of Cuisine


This research utilizes historical archaeology in the examination of the foodways and food landscape of Philadelphia ca. 1750-1850. The method employed here combines archaeological and documentary research to explore historic food habits and culinary practices. Primary research consists of analysis of animal bones from three sites located in and around Philadelphia including the Speaker’s House, Stenton, and the National Constitution Center. Additionally, archaeobotanical materials are examined from the National Constitution Center site. These datasets are combined with faunal and floral analyses from other Philadelphia archaeological sites in order to facilitate an examination of the foodways of the city as a whole, rather than the food practices of specific households or assemblages. Several case examples are presented synthesizing the zooarchaeological and documentary research. When combined, these research perspectives result in a more well-balanced and nuanced understanding of past foodways and food landscapes. Archaeological data typically indicates long-term patterned consumption practices while documentary data provides information about short-term food offerings and events. Through comparing, contrasting, and eventually knitting together these two viewpoints on foodways in the past, it is possible to achieve a more detailed understanding of historic culinary practices. This methodology combining archaeological and historical data facilitates research on the foodways of Philadelphia in the late colonial, Revolutionary, and early Republican periods and also highlights the potential of faunal and floral remains for addressing questions about foodways and food landscapes in the historic past.

Karen Sonik, PhD (NELC)

Daimon-haunted Universe: Conceptions of the Supernatural in Mesopotamia


This dissertation investigates the monsters and the daimons of ancient Mesopotamia as unique cultural constructions, physical representations of what was feared, what was forbidden, and what was desired. Comprising two distinct classes of Zwischenwesen, beings of intermediate or “in between” nature existing between humans and their gods, monsters are identified as cosmic agents, challenging and interacting primarily with the gods and with the divine world, while daimons primarily function within the human or natural world, afflicting or protecting human beings on the order of the gods or on personal whim. Querying the origins and development of these entities, and the social, religious, and political contexts in which they functioned, this dissertation incorporates both literary and visual analyses and is informed by recent research in the fields of anthropology and the history of religions, as well as by studies on the “Other” as presented in sources from the Classical world, the Middle Ages, and contemporary Western culture. It establishes a consistent taxonomy and terminology of the monsters and the daimons, locating them within the Mesopotamian supernatural landscape, and considers their role as guardians and boundary-keepers, whose transgression of cosmic borders, social codes, and corporeal integrity serves as a sign-posting, an unequivocal warning, to human beings of behaviors, qualities, and deeds that are socially, religiously, or otherwise taboo or forbidden. These broadly based discussions are accompanied by targeted case studies treating those monsters and daimons that are exceptional even among their peculiar company, and that specifically elucidate crucial themes such as the conflict between order and chaos, the delineation of socially constructed gender roles, the functions of the rare female Zwischenwesen, and the circumstances under which cosmic borders or bodily integrity may be compromised. The monsters and daimons of Mesopotamia are, ultimately, read as glyphs, encoding specific aspects of their originating culture’s belief system, and offering a rare and invaluable insight into the contemporary social, political, and religious mores of the world in which they were constructed.


Bryan K. Miller, PhD (EALC)

Power politics in the Xiongnu Empire


This thesis employs an integrated approach of the historical and archaeological evidence relevant to the study of the Xiongnu empire (3 rd century BC-1st century AD) in an attempt to construct new contexts of understanding the political strategies for securing and ensuring power, legitimacy, and authority in the steppes. I have relied upon the full corpus of Chinese records which address the Xiongnu entity, synthesized the entirety of excavated materials in China, South Siberia, and Mongolia which relate to the Xiongnu phenomenon, and incorporated new survey and excavation data from two regions of the Xiongnu empire. Through the course of the dissertation, I utilize a paradigm of imperial strategies, rather than typologies of imperial polities, in order to provide a less restrictive manner of reconstructing the power politics of the steppe empire. A diachronic consideration of the combined textual narratives and archaeological materials exhibits two distinct periods of the Xiongnu polity. This dissertation focuses on the shifts between these two periods and the resulting new traditions that sought to distinguish and elevate restricted ranks of the imperial élite and assert a cosmopolitan culture of steppe empire that together would ensure authority and control both within the empire and toward its neighbors.

Page Selinsky, PhD (ANTH)

Death A Necessary End: Perspectives on Paleodemography and Aging From Hasanlu, Iran


Archaeological human skeletal remains provide one of the most direct and informative sources of evidence on the human life experience in the past. The skeletal remains from the northwestern Iranian site of Hasanlu are of particular interest because of the paucity of remains from this region and their unique archaeological context, which consists of a cemetery group and an assemblage of individuals from a sacked city. The main focus of investigation was the contemporaneous Iron Age sub-samples, one from the cemetery, the Low Mound (c.1450-c.800 BCE), and one from the destruction level, the High Mound (c. 800 BCE). These two sub-samples were specifically used to address issues concerning the aging of adult individuals based on skeletal and dental markers, in particular older adults, and to explore patterns of paleodemography in attritional versus catastrophic mortality profiles. This core group consisted of 195 individuals from the Low Mound (n=89) and the High Mound (n=106) sub-samples. Data was recorded on age, sex, and selected health markers to explore demographic patterns in the sub-samples, patterns of aging, and association between health markers and longevity. Results of this research indicate that, with a large enough skeletal series, it is possible to seriate aging markers and identify old and very old adult individuals. Dental traits were particularly useful in this regard and for generating an internally derived aging standard. Markers of dental health and trauma were useful in discerning significant differences between the sub-samples, although, stress indicators and degenerative changes were less informative. In particular, trauma showed expected and significant differences between the two groups, with the High Mound destruction level group having primarily perimortem cranial injuries afflicting all ages and sexes. This pattern is consistent with a warfare scenario. The sex and age structures of the two samples were also significantly different. The paleodemographic comparison showed that the Low Mound sample fit well with archaeological attritional mortality patterns, while the High Mound was more similar to catastrophic mortality samples, especially those associated with warfare.

Christopher Thornton, PhD (ANTH)

The Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age Metallurgy of Tepe, Hissar, Northeastern Iran, A Challenge to the ‘Levantine Paradigm’


In this dissertation, the scientific analyses of the metallurgical remains from Tepe Hissar–a 4th and 3rd millennium site in Northeastern Iran–are presented and juxtaposed with a new understanding of the 2000-year archaeological sequence at the site. It is argued that two types of contemporaneous metallurgical production occurred within this ‘middle range’ community: traditional practices (so-called “cottage industry”) and standardized practices (e.g., workshop production). While traditional models for the development of metallurgy in Southwest Asia (the “Levantine Paradigm”) would see these two types of production as representing entirely different stages in social development, at Tepe Hissar they are carried out at the same time and less than 100m from each other. Furthermore, the sophistication of metallurgical production at this site, particularly among the more ‘traditional’ practitioners, is truly staggering, and forces us to reconsider what independent craftspeople in small-scale societies understood about the chemical and material properties of the objects they made and used. In addition to challenging the “Levantine Paradigm,” this dissertation set out to test theoretical discussions of “craft specialization” by applying various models to the data compiled herein. Although difficult in this situation to speak confidently about the craftspeople themselves, given the lack of suitable burial information and the secondary contexts of most of the metallurgical remains, it seems evident that using the concept of specialized craftspeople (e.g., “independent” vs. “attached” specialists) to compare the traditional vs. standardized practices at Tepe Hissar is not suitable. Instead it is argued that the spatial context of production directed technological practice, and not the level of specialization held by the artisans themselves . That is, distinct areas of the site (called “workshops”) were designated for specialized (and standardized) production, while other areas (called “houses”) were used for non-specialized, traditional craft production–a distinction not necessarily requiring different craftspeople. While this critique of “craft specialization” must await further analysis of the crafts from this site and others, the metallurgical remains from Tepe Hissar present an interesting case study for craft production in ancient societies that should resonate with our understanding of craft production in traditional societies today.

Elif Ünlü, PhD (AAMW)

Technological and Stylistic Evaluation of the Early Bronze Age Pottery at Tarsus-Gozlukule, Turkey: Pottery Production and its Interaction with Economic, Social, and Cultural Spheres


This dissertation presents a technological and stylistic assessment of Early Bronze Age pottery production at Tarsus-Gözlükule, a multi-period mound settlement located in the Cilician Plain in southern Turkey. Pottery production, like all other man-made objects, is firstly a technological act. This dissertation maintains that material style (involving formal, technical, and decorative choices expressed by the artisan) of an artifact should be investigated as a whole as such an integrative study would be the most adequate way of understanding economic circumstances, social representation, and cultural boundaries. To facilitate this integrative investigation, seventy-two samples of Early Bronze Age pottery excavated from Tarsus-Gözlükule in the 1930s and 1940s.were selected for mineralogical, morphological, and chemical analyses. Petrographic and powder X-Ray Diffraction analyses were performed to determine the mineralogical makeup, Environmental Scanning Electron Microscope imagery was used to determine the morphology of these samples, and semi-quantitave Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy analysis was performed on some samples to determine chemical properties of the clays. As a result of these scientific analyses various fabric groups were established. Afterwards formal shape and stylistic analysis was performed where shapes and surface treatments of the samples were analyzed and compared to the known local and non-local examples. Such an integrative approach to pottery production facilitates a better definition of the local pottery production process and enables an assessment of the technological know-how of the local pottery producers, their labor organization and its role within the operating markets, their function within the sociopolitical structure, and how such issues relate to the cultural boundaries within the community. Defining the paradigm of the local pottery production process leads to a broader investigation of issues related to the technological transfer of know-how and its social impact upon the pottery producers, the functional and symbolic role of the imported pottery and its local imitations within the community, and the significance of commodity exchange for the identity of individuals, networks of producers, and the community as a whole.


Alexis Boutin, PhD (ANTH)



Renewed excavations in 2003-2004 at Alalakh (Tell Atchana), a regional capital of ancient Syria during the Middle and Late Bronze Age (ca. 2000-1200 BCE), exposed the burials of at least 58 people. Along with published and unpublished data from burials excavated at Alalakh by Sir Leonard Woolley in the 1930s-1940s, this mortuary assemblage has been subjected to a bioarchaeological investigation into how embodied personhood was socially produced through daily routines and mortuary rituals. To analyze the skeletal data, I have employed morphological and metric methods focusing on sex determination, age estimation, health and nutritional status, activity-induced alterations, and skeletal and dental non-metric variation. A close examination of each burial’s archaeological contexts–emphasizing spatial and stratigraphic relationships, associated material culture, and relative preservation and articulation–has revealed three phases of burial activity, from the Middle Bronze IIC through Late Bronze IIA periods. I discuss the “Plastered Tomb”–a multiple burial distinguished by its excellent preservation, unique architectural features, and elaborate material wealth–in particular detail. As residents of the largest of the nucleated tell-type settlements in the Amuq valley, whose kingdom was frequently embroiled in political conflict, the Alalakh population seems to have struggled frequently with malnutrition and infectious diseases (as evident in moderate-to-high frequencies, yet generally mild presentations, of cribra orbitalia, endocranial lesions, and linear enamel hypoplasias). Such conditions of hardship may have initiated the use of the city’s eastern periphery as a cemetery to dispose of larger-than-usual numbers of dead in an efficient manner. The meaningful placement of dead bodies in this designated space eventually transformed the city’s edges into a visible mortuary landscape whose use continued for generations. For the interpretation of these skeletal and archaeological data, I have utilized osteobiographical methods, which draw on socio-historic contextual information to investigate the fluid categories of identity that constitute an embodied person over the life course. The fictive narratives that I have written employ multiple voices and perspectives to play along the life-death continuum, thus acknowledging the multivocality that characterizes both the creation of archaeological knowledge and the plurality of past lived experiences.

Jane Hickman, PhD (AAMW)

Gold Before the Palaces: Crafting Jewelry and Social Identity in Minoan Crete


During the period c. 2000-1800 BC, the first civilization was established in Europe, as illustrated by the development of palace-centered societies in Minoan Crete, However, the extent to which stratified society existed before the second millennium BC is unclear. This study focuses on the development of ranked society in prepalatial Crete, as evidenced by the manufacturing, use, and deposition of gold and silver jewelry. Indications of social stratification are also explored in the material remains of sites where jewelry was recovered. Research objectives include an investigation of where, how, and why new forms of jewelry appeared in Crete and the impact jewelry had on the forging of individual and group identities. Jewelry is evaluated utilizing contextual, formal, technological, and functional analyses. In addition, human agency and instances of individual decision- making are revealed in association with the production and use of these objects. To place prepalatial Minoan jewelry in perspective, a comparison of this material with jewelry recovered from sites in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans is conducted. The appearance of gold and silver jewelry in Crete during the third millennium BC was an indigenous development with regional and site-specific variation. However, raw materials and perhaps the idea of making jewelry from precious metals were imported to Crete, most likely from the Near East. All prepalatial jewelry was recovered from funerary contexts; it was frequently associated with other elite grave goods such as ivory seals, stone vessels, and copper/bronze daggers. Evidence suggests that objects such as diadems were used in public ceremonies, perhaps associated with ritual spaces at cemeteries. Signs of ranked society in prepalatial Crete include the presence of symbols of authority such as gold diadems, appliqués for clothing, and a scepter; finds of suspected heirlooms, indicating inherited status; the organized construction of monumental tombs; differentiation in tomb size, placement, and associated grave goods; and craft specialization in the production of jewelry, stone vases, and seals. One may conclude that ranked society existed in Crete before palaces were constructed. Gold jewelry was a tangible, enduring way to demonstrate membership in emerging social groups.

Radu Ioviţă, PhD (ANTH)

Ontogenetic Scaling in Stone Tools and its Application to European Middle Paleolithic Systematics


This dissertation has two goals. The first is to provide a theoretical framework for a dynamic, morphology-independent approach to stone tool assemblage systematics and to introduce a quantitative method for evaluating relationships between assemblages based on comparisons of reduction trajectories. The second goal is to use this method to assess the relevance of an oft-cited dichotomy in European Middle Paleolithic systematics, that between assemblages with a high bifacial component and those dominated by core-and-flake technologies, from the point of view of the proposed theoretical basis for classification. The data come from three major technocomplexes: the Micoquian (Germany: sites of Buhlen and Sesselfelsgrotte; Crimea, Ukraine: sites of Kabazi II, V, Starosele, Chokurcha I, Buran-Kaya III), the Mousterian of Acheulean Tradition (MTA, France: sites of Le Moustier and Pech de l’Azé I), and the Quina Mousterian (France: sites of Roc de Marsal and Jonzac). Reduction trajectories, expressed as allometric relationships between stone tool shape and size are viewed as ‘reversed’ ontogenies of stone tools, and are compared in the same way as biological ontogenetic trajectories. The methodology used in this study consists of converting shape data into elliptical Fourier (EFA) coefficients and tracking the latter’s variance with size. The mathematical expressions of the change in shape as a function of size (unique to each assemblage) are linear vectors, which can be compared trigonometrically to assess overall similarity of the assemblages. The results suggest that (1) morphological variability displayed by individual Middle Paleolithic tools is very low, rendering classical typological approaches ineffective; and (2) Micoquian bifacial tool reduction trajectories are more similar to those of Quina Mousterian unifacial scrapers than they are to those of MTA bifacial tools. The implications of the hypothesis testing is that, when examined through a dynamic, historical prism, which includes not only production method, but also maintenance practices, therefore incorporating the entire life history of the object, a much simpler picture of taxonomic complexity than has previously been proposed for the European Middle Paleolithic emerges.

Tarek Kahlaoui, PhD (ARTH)

The depiction of the Mediterranean in Islamic cartography (11th16th centuries): The suras (images) of the Mediterranean from the bureaucrats to the sea captains


De-constructing a spatial and/or historical harmonious paradigm such as The Mediterranean would be a difficult claim unless is discussed from the point of view of its pre-modern representations, which the core issue of my dissertation “The Depiction of the Mediterranean in Islamic Cartography”. By focusing on a corpus of little studied cartographic sources from the Islamic world depicting the Mediterranean between the thirteenth and the sixteenth centuries I was able to emphasize the contribution of visual sources in understanding this intra-cultural space during a period of dynamic change. My project has been to question the concept of the Braudelean Mediterranean, which is dominant enough that it survives even in its critics. The latter is in so many ways a statement about a positivist true Mediterranean mainly through its textual sources that have rarely been examined as narrative constructions. Here I am interested in how the pre-modern Mediterranean existed in the minds of its inhabitants; notably, but not solely, its Muslim denizens and visitors. When put together, the textual and visual representations of these groups construct a Mediterranean that is essentially different than the Braudelean “historical Mediterranean”. Yet it might be as large as the latter is, and has been. Until the most recent decades the study of Islamic cartography was often confused with the historiography of Islamic geography. The cartographic corpus was mostly portrayed as a peripheral support of the textual discourse since historical geography was the driver of the study of Islamic geography. Only lately has the identification and explanation of an Islamic cartography becomes part of the Islamicists’ agenda. Thus, the Islamic maritime maps (nautical charts) were the least probable examples to concern these scholars since they are in many cases independent from textual commentaries. My dissertation, which treats the subject of the Islamic visual representations of the Mediterranean from the examples of the medieval (Ibn H[dotbelow]awqal and al-Idrisi in the tenth and twelfth centuries) to the early modern cartographers (al-Sharfi and Piri Reis in the sixteenth century), intends to unveil the Muslims’ cartographic eye essentially from samples of maritime maps of the same space we keep redefining: the Mediterranean. The samples I have selected include also a series of Maghribi maritime maps made during the fifteenth and early sixteenth century, and most of the Ottomans’ cartographic productions that tended to reproduce the Mediterranean. But many other cartographic samples are hidden in manuscripts from the late medieval period. The Ottoman examples (as opposed to the Maghribi examples inscribed in Arabic) are not limited, however, to the much discussed Piri Reis’ atlas but they include recently discovered Ottoman maritime maps and atlases from the second half of the sixteenth century, which will provide a much broader picture of the Islamic cartographic depiction of the Mediterranean especially when they are seen in conjunction with the North African (`Al i al-Sharfi’s) contemporary productions. After preliminary surveys it appeared that many sources, especially manuscripts that include cartographic representations, need closer attention. The sixteenth century cartographic developments seem to have shadowed the possible role of late medieval works, which do not have to be innovative but they certainly show a continuous pattern of cartographic knowledge up until the sixteenth century. Another crucial aspect that such manuscripts show is its close interaction with a larger visual context including “scientific” and “historical” Islamic miniature painting notably in the Ottoman workshops. It is indeed a more established approach in the studies of visual culture to view the formal and epistemological interplay between artworks, maps, and scientific drawings. Thus, it is highly tempting to investigate the usefulness in this specific case of a paradigm attested in Italian Renaissance and early modern Dutch painting such as the “period eye ” Emphasizing the actual images of the Mediterranean is just another window into its wide imaginaire life. The close contact I have with Roger Chartier, a leading historian of early modern reading, and a member of my dissertation’s committee, notably through his seminar “How to read texts?”, had a major impact in approaching the topic of my dissertation. The geographic texts and images of the Islamic sources show how the reader’s expectations were instructing their own making. Because regardless of the cultural and structural specificities, be it an Islamo-Arabic or a European, a textual or a visual representation, the pre-modern making of the concept of the Mediterranean involved an intimate and specific process. A process of authoring and drawing shaped by certain expectations of reading and viewing. It is only with the appropriate consideration of this register that the necessary de-construction of our modern Mediterranean would be possible.

Dawn Landau-McCormack, PhD (NELC)

Dynasty XIII Kingship in Ancient Egypt: A study of Political Power and Administration through an Investigation of the Royal Tombs of the Late Middle Kingdom


Over fifty kings ruled in a period between 150 and 170 years during Dynasty XIII in ancient Egypt; some rulers held the throne for only a few years. This study reviews the chronological sequence of these kings and their means of legitimization and succession. It also examines the royal funerary monuments, which provide information regarding kingship at this time. Besides the six known tombs at Sakkara, Mazghuna, and Dahshur, other, unexcavated sites in the Memphite region likely provide additional burials for the many kings without known funerary monuments. Also, the excavation and investigation of the artifacts from tomb S9 and the analysis of the plan of S10 at South Abydos reveal that these monuments have the same characteristics as the others to the north and belong to a single corpus. Beginning with the Hawara monument of Amenemhet III and ending with Merneferre Ay’s pyramidion, which was found in the Delta, the substructures of the royal pyramids have similar plans with some features that may indicate that they may form a physical representation of the netherworld, placing the king within the weskhet court of Osiris. The size of the pyramids, though small compared to those of previous periods, and their exclusive use by rulers, demonstrate that kings remained at the apex of society. This study identifies three phases within Dynasty XIII. The first group of kings emphasizes its actual or symbolic connection to Dynasty XII through the use of double names including “Amenemhet.” The second phase includes rulers who explicitly expressed their non-royal lineages and may have come from families with ties to the military while the final kings lost the north and south to Dynasties XIV (northwest Delta) and XVI (Thebes). This study ends with the presentation of a model outlining a possible scenario for the fall of Dynasty XIII, including climate change, the decrease of economic power, the increased power of officials and foreigners, and the loss of territory.

Susanna McFadden, PhD (AAMW)

Courtly places and sacred spaces: The social and political significance of monumental wall painting in late antiquity


This dissertation examines three different architectural complexes, each of which contained monumental painted figural programs. The first case study centers around a series of fragmentary frescoes from the Tetrarchic period of Roman Egypt (late third century CE) decorating an Imperial Cult chapel placed in the heart of the great Pharaonic Temple of Luxor. Part II focuses on an early fourth century CE imperial domicile in Rome (dubbed the Domus Faustae ) and the painted procession of over-life-sized figures depicting the family of Constantine the Great which were discovered there. The last case study, Part III looks at an Islamic monument of the Umayyad period (c. 724-743) called Qusayr ‘Amra, where paintings decorate nearly the entire interior surface of a bath house cum audience hall in the middle of the Jordanian Desert. These sites are examined in order to bring out of obscurity an artistic practice that is often overlooked in art histories of the period, namely the use of wall paintings in nonreligious spaces as a means of expressing contemporary social and political issues. This project is built upon the premise that all three of these monuments were important congregational interiors related to the late antique courts, what I call “aulic” spaces, in which the elites of late antiquity enacted highly ceremonial, hierarchical and programmed social rituals which were reflected in their respective decorative programs. In each case study, I illustrate how the pictorial programs in these sites were designed to convey particular social and political messages. I describe the ways in which viewers were introduced, and guided visually through the program of images so as to add to the overall ceremoniousness of their respective spaces. I argue that the process of viewing had the effect of sanctifying these painted environments, due to the ritualized encounter between the ruler image and viewer that was created.

Stephennie Mulder, PhD (ARTH)

The Architecture of Coexistence: Sunnis, Shi’is, and the Shrines of the ‘Alids in the Medieval Levant


In the Levant, (Greater Syria, Arabic al-Sham ), the fifth/eleventh to seventh/thirteenth centuries was a time of great religious enthusiasm. The depredations of Crusader forces, a movement for the revival of Sunnism (ih[dotbelow]ya’ al-sunna ), and the political claims of new, unstable, and competing regimes in need of social and political legitimization facilitated a commitment to pious architectural construction, creating a new landscape of sacred sites throughout Syria. Among these were the shrines of the ‘Alids, the descendents of the Prophet Muh[dotbelow]ammad. While these shrines have a particularly rich role to play in Shi’i devotion, they are revered by both sects. Yet, they have often been studied only from the perspective of their importance to various Shi’i actors. This research reconstructs the medieval architectural and patronage histories of the main ‘Alid shrines in Syria, using a range of sources and methodologies–reports by medieval authors, archaeological excavation and architectural analysis, and epigraphy and the interpretation of inscriptions. Through the history of these shrines, the study also seeks to nuance a period often characterized as inimical to Shi’ism: when Sunni partisans strove to persecute, undermine, or eliminate Shi’i political entities, communities, and religious life. This research proposes that in medieval Syria, ‘Alid devotional space was often recreated by Sunni elites–and experienced by visitors–as shared, pan-Islamic, and inclusive. This reconfiguration sometimes reflected personal devotion or piety, at other times, a political bid to gain influence over Shi’i communities, and at one point, a larger social policy of reconciliation between Sunnis and Shi’is. In the end, this Sunni investment in ‘Alid places of pilgrimage created a new type of polyvalent devotional space: for behind the political rhetoric of Sunni ascendancy, a complex inter-confessional negotiation often took place. The history of these shrines allows for a more nuanced interpretation of the relationship between Sunnis and Shi’is in the medieval period, and furthermore, the mapping of such sites reveals how material and devotional culture may often illuminate the disjuncture between official rhetoric and religious or social praxis.

Aubrey Baadsgaard Poffenberger, PhD (ANTH)



This research reconstructs fashions and fashion trends in Early Dynastic Mesopotamia (ca. 2900-2350 B.C.E.) to illuminate crucial social developments in an early complex society. This reconstruction reveals that multiple and competing fashions existed in Early Dynastic society for the purpose of creating social distinctions related to gender, status, occupation, and locality. These fashions were created and sustained through the patterned display of dress that came to have conventional associations with different social personae such as male and female rulers, musicians, and soldiers of various ranks. Wearing the fashions connected to these personae was the means of embodying them, of showcasing an achievement of the power to act out social roles and display social affinities. Reconstructions of Early Dynastic fashion trends show increasing elaboration, standardization, and regionalization through time connected to the development and legitimization of increasingly diversified and complex social institutions. The appearance of elaborated high or “royal” fashions in the late Early Dynastic period was part of the emergence of newly formalized and authoritative leaders able to demonstrate rulership over one or multiple Early Dynastic cities. Evidence for standardized dress or “outfits” shows the development of more rigid social roles and the creation of the social impositions necessary to display and maintain them. Greater regionalization in dress was an impetus and outgrowth of increasing social, economic, and political integration among Early Dynastic cities. Reconstructions of fashions and fashions trends in dress are insightful on multiple fronts, enlightening the emergence of social personae and illuminating their participation in the distinct social institutions and relationships that formed the basis of Early Dynastic society.

Matthew Rutz, PhD (NELC)

Scholars, texts, and contexts: An archaeological and textual study of the diviners’ archive from Late Bronze Age Emar, Syria


Both the textual record and the archaeological record from the ancient Mesopotamia provide evidence for a rich array of human activities over more than three millennia. The vast majority of known cuneiform tablets lack secure archaeological provenience, and few large groups of tablets have been excavated in such a way that a critical investigation of the whole is possible. Within the discipline of Assyriology, there is a growing appreciation that excavated groups of textual artifacts provide the strongest foundation for reconstructing the social and intellectual worlds of ancient Mesopotamia. The purpose of this dissertation was to produced a detailed exposition of a collection of cuneiform tablets from Late Bronze Age Emar (ca. 1300-1175 BCE), a town located at the big bend of the Euphrates River in Syria. Populating the texts from one building in this town, Building M1 , were a number of high-ranking scribes, scholars, and cultic functionaries who bore the title diviner. There were two dimensions to the investigation of this archive, which included administrative, legal, epistolary, lexical, literary, divination, ritual, and incantation texts written in Akkadian, Sumerian, Hittite, and Hurrian. The first entailed interpreting the published archaeological information from the excavation of Building M1 . The second involved a textual analysis of all published epigraphic data from the site, resulting in a rationalized catalogue organized by textual genre, find-spot, and scribe. Over seventy fragments were identified for the first time, and a number of possible joins between pieces were proposed. Both the architecture of Building M1 and the artifacts found in it indicate that it was an urban elite residence and not a temple as was originally thought. The reconstruction of the original excavation units has also made it possible to put the tablets and fragments back in the rooms in which they were found. Analysis of the personal names and titles found in the archive offers insights into archive formation, scribal education, textual transmission, and social organization at the site.

Günder Varinlioğlu, PhD (AAMW)

Rural landscape and Built Environment at the End of Antiquity: Limestone Villages of Southeastern Isauria


The well-preserved remains of settlements in the rural countryside of southeastern Isauria provide evidence for the prosperity and intensive exploitation of marginal lands during late antiquity. The territory studied in this thesis lies in the hinterland of Seleucia ad Calycadnum, the capital of Isauria in southern Asia Minor. The limestone hills rising above narrow coastal plains were semi-arid, devoid of water sources, and suitable only for dry farming and animal husbandry. However, epigraphic, textual, and archaeological evidence indicate a process of economic growth and building activity between the fourth and seventh centuries, with a peak in the fifth and sixth. In this period, rural landscapes acquired a tightly interconnected network of farmsteads, hamlets, inhabited caves, and villages. These remains display a sophisticated tradition of limestone masonry and constructional technology. The skills of Isaurian builders were also well known beyond the borders of the province in the fifth and sixth centuries. The construction of durable expensive structures attests to the creation of a substantial economic surplus by combining agricultural and pastoral strategies. These are investigated by the study of the remains of presses, mills, threshing floors, surface pottery, and the rich epigraphic evidence from coastal settlements about crafts and trades. The rural countryside and its settlements do not appear in the textual record. Therefore, the documentation and study of the material remains are essential for the understanding of the character and transformation of this rural landscape. This thesis uses the archaeological evidence gathered during five seasons of reconnaissance survey. It focuses on two large villages, Isikkale and Karakabakli, distinguished by the density of the habitat, urban features, and their proximity to harbors and urban centers. Through the exploration of the economic, religious, social, and artistic practices and traditions, this thesis reconstructs the economic, architectural, and settlement geography of a rural territory at the end of antiquity. The results of this research contribute to our understanding of the material culture of a very little known region and period of Asia Minor.


Ellen Bell, PhD (ANTH)



Despite a long history of research into Classic period (AD 400–850) Maya political and social organization, little is known of the establishment and early history of ruling dynasties and the strategies dynastic founders and their early successors used to introduce, solidify, and maintain political authority within Maya centers. This study examines the use of primary deposits (caches, tombs, and burials) and the buildings that contain them to materialize and extend a new royal dynasty at the Classic Maya center of Copan, Honduras, during the Early Classic period (A.D. 400–600). Tunneling excavations and artifact analysis combine to investigate ritual deposits, sensitive indicators of change and continuity in political power, ritual practice, resource procurement, and wealth. Shifts in construction patterns and the location, content, and form of ritual deposits correlate with the founding of a new dynastic line at Copan in A.D. 426/7 by K’inich Yax K’uk’ Mo’, who was venerated as the dynastic founder by all subsequent Classic period (A.D. 400–850) Copan rulers. Much of this veneration was focused on the architectural complex that grew up around two royal tombs thought to contain his remains and those of an important female member of the royal house, most likely his wife. The patterning and contents of these ritual deposits and others within the Early Acropolis emphasize connections between the founder, his descendants, foreign centers of power, including the central Mexican capital of Teotihuacan, and the supernatural. These deposits also work to create spaces within the built environment that support and perpetuate social memory, transforming the royal dead into venerated divine ancestors through whom claims of legitimate rulership were made. This examination of the 400 year sequence of shrines dedicated to the dynastic founder and the placed deposits it contains demonstrates the instrumental importance of the built environment in the creation and maintenance of political power at Classic period Maya centers and beyond.

Courtney Chaffin, PhD (AMES/EALC)

Strange Creatures of Chu: Antlered Tomb Sculptures of the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods


Wooden sculptures painted with lacquer and adorned with real deer antlers are a characteristic feature of Chu burials from the late Spring and Autumn period through the late Warring States period. Despite this, the sculptures have received little attention from scholars, and the source, as well as the significance of the images has not been fully explained. This dissertation attempts to unveil the mystery of these tomb images. A regional study of the sculptures reveals that significant variations of the figures existed outside of the Chu heartland, the Jiangling region of modern Hubei province, and belief in the efficacy of the images was widespread in Chu territory. Although the images have been compared to the so-called taotie mask of Shang and Zhou bronze decoration, a more likely iconographical source for the images is three-dimensional animal appendages on Spring and Autumn and early Warring States period bronzes. The form of the sculptures is based on contemporary Warring States woodworking techniques, while a panoply of bronze, textile, and lacquer designs inspired the painted decoration. Traditionally, the antlered images have been identified with specific hybrid creatures described in the Chuci or the Shanhaijing, but this dissertation posits that, although the images are in the same genre of “strange creatures” as those described in ancient texts, we should be cautious of associating them with hybrid beasts whose textual descriptions do not match the figures exactly. Finally, the significance of the sculptures is considered in light of Chu religious practices and the burial context of the figures, and it is suggested that the images served multiple functions in the tomb, both for the benefit of the dead and for the living.

Benjamin Porter, PhD (ANTH)

The Archaeology of Community in Iron I Central Jordan


Scholars have characterized social life during the Iron I period (1200-1000 BCE) in the Southern Levant using problematic historical sources as well as Middle Eastern ethnographic and environmental models. These models have unfortunately resulted in static and homogeneous explanations of Iron I social life. This dissertation therefore investigates Iron I social life using a community framework that both draws from and improves upon previous anthropological and archaeological research. This model is tested against the historical record as well as the physical evidence for architectural, agricultural, and food production from several Iron I settlements in Central Jordan. Additionally, the organization of ceramic vessel production is investigated using two materials sciences techniques, Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis, and Laser Ablated – Inductively Coupled Plasma – Mass Spectrometry. The results of this investigation indicate that production practices were organized both at the household and the community level. While the construction of family residences, the storage of agricultural surplus, and daily food production fell to the responsibility of individual households, other production practices such as fodder storage, the construction of agricultural infrastructure (e.g. terraces and dams), and the production of ceramic vessels were routines broadly shared across the community. Furthermore, disproportional residence size, storage installations, and food production centers indicate asymmetries in wealth and the emergence of social inequalities. This investigation concludes that community models help overcome static and homogenous depictions of Iron I society and are appropriate for investigating social life not only in Central Jordan, but throughout the Southern Levant. Furthermore, this investigation concludes that archaeological investigations of community challenge several assumptions about social complexity in historically remote, preindustrial societies.

Teresa Raczek, PhD (ANTH)

Shared Histories: Technology and Community at Gilund and Bagor, Rajasthan, India (c. 3000–1700 BC)


This dissertation examines the relationship between two contemporaneous sites in southeastern Rajasthan: Gilund, a permanent settlement of agro-pastoralists and Bagor, a temporary camp inhabited by people who employed a mixed subsistence strategy. Gilund and Bagor are located 30 km apart in an area known as the Ahar-Banas Cultural Complex (3000 to 1700 BC). Artifacts found in the initial excavations linked Bagor with the inhabitants of permanent settlements in the region. However, the nature of interaction was largely uncertain. Recent excavations at both sites provided the opportunity to study the lithic collections anew. Lithics were selected for analysis because they were the single artifact class found in abundance at both sites. This project employed three avenues of research. First, evidence for the presence of overlapping material landscapes was sought by examining raw material procurement. A targeted field survey of chert and chalcedony sources identified potential sources and was paired with a visual raw material analysis of samples and artifacts. Second, technological practices were examined using standard typologies and attribute analysis. Finally presence of a shared technological skill set was identified through a detailed analysis of core production. The results show many similarities between the two lithic assemblages. Both sites emphasize highly local raw material procurement, with some use of non-local materials. While both sites procured material from the southeast, the Bagor collection contained more chert from unidentifiable sources, indicating a broader material landscape than Gilund. Few differences in technological practices were evidenced in the typological and attribute analyses. Finally, both sites employed a variety of core production strategies, but shared common techniques including the use of a burinated core initiation. Previous explanations described two separate groups that were loosely linked through exchange. However, this study shows that even though the inhabitants of these Gilund and Bagor engaged in distinct daily practices and raw material procurement patterns, these two communities shared a common skill set. That is, the evidence from lithic analysis suggests the presence of two communities with a shared history.

Joshua Roberson, PhD (AMES/NELC)

The Book of the Earth: A Study of Ancient Egyptian Symbol-Systems and the Evolution of New Kingdom Cosmographic Models


The Book of the Earth belongs to the genre of ancient Egyptian compositions known as “Underworld Books,” depicting the locales and beings encountered by the sun god during his nightly travels. The Book of the Earth was employed exclusively in royal burial chambers during Egypt’s Ramessid Period (Dynasties 19–20). Following the dissolution of the New Kingdom (c. 1081 BC), elements from the book began to appear in private contexts, continuing in use through Greco-Roman Period, with the latest known exemplar dating to the first century of the Common Era. The present study represents the first comprehensive treatment of all currently known texts and images associated with the Book of the Earth and includes examinations of the book’s architectural contexts, iconography, orthography, and grammar, in addition to the complete transcription, transliteration, and translation of all related texts. An examination of the architectural context and iconography of the primary New Kingdom corpus has revealed a series of criteria by which the Book of the Earth appears originally to have been differentiated from other Underworld compositions. The distribution of this material suggests that the supposed “book” actually consisted of a series of modular tableaux selected on a more or less ad hoc basis, organized consistently into a bi-partite composition. This composition, in conjunction with certain celestial representations, was intended to transform the sarcophagus chamber into a functional model of the Egyptian akhet, the locus of solar rebirth from which the deceased hoped to affect his or her own perpetual resurrection. As the book made the transition from royal to private burial contexts, various abbreviated arrangements suitable for use upon a single wall surface, papyrus, etc., came to replace the more elaborate arrangements found earlier in the New Kingdom. In these later recensions, the directionality of the composition and its association with the horizon, etc., were preserved in the prominence given to images of the double lion Aker and other centrally placed, symmetrical tableaux.


Paul Delnero, PhD (NELC)

Variation in Sumerian Literary Compositions: A Case Study Based on the Decad


In this dissertation, the topic of textual variation in Sumerian literary compositions was examined. Many of the literary works that were composed in Sumerian are known primarily from copies that were produced during the Old Babylonian Period (ca. 1900–1700 B.C.E.). The copies of these compositions, which, with few exceptions, have typically survived in an average of ten to fifty, but in some instances, as many as 200 duplicates, rarely, if ever, contain completely identical versions of the same text. Since, in the absence of single, definitive “master copies” of these texts, it is necessary to reconstruct their content solely on the basis of these divergent exemplars, and being able to distinguish correct from incorrect differences in these duplicates is critical for establishing reliable and accurate editions of these compositions, the primary goal of this dissertation was to develop a method for critically assessing and interpreting the variants that occur among the copies of these texts. Focusing on a small, but representative group of ten compositions known as the Decad, a methodology for analyzing textual variation was proposed and applied to the texts in this corpus. Since it can be shown that most, if not all of the copies of these compositions were written as exercises by scribes being trained to learn to write Sumerian, and that these exercises frequently involved copying from memory, the implications of this were considered as a means of identifying specific types of variants as errors that resulted from this process. In addition, complete catalogues of all the variants that occur both across this corpus as a whole and within each of the individual sources for these texts were compiled both to illustrate the use of this method, as well as to serve as a reference to facilitate the assessment of variants in the duplicates of these and the extensive body of related compositions, that would also provide a basis for future studies of this subject.

Matthew Liebmann, PhD (ANTH)

“Burn the churches, break up the bells”: The archaeology of the Pueblo Revolt revitalization movement in New Mexico, A.D. 1680–1696


This dissertation investigates the archaeology of the Pueblo Revolt era (A.D. 1680-1696) in the Jemez Province of New Mexico, and attempts two broad goals. The first is to critically examine the anthropological phenomena of revitalization movements through a study of material culture. The second is to write an archaeological history of the events that occurred in the Jemez Province between the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 and the conclusion of the Spanish reconquest in 1696. In order to address the stated objectives, this study examines the material culture of four Pueblo villages constructed in the Jemez Province between 1680 and 1696: Patokwa (LA 96), Boletsakwa (LA 136), Cerro Colorado (LA 2048), and Astialakwa (LA 1825). Through analyses of the architecture and ceramic assemblages of these villages the nature, degree, and trajectory of the Pueblo Revolt revitalization movement is assessed, with a focus on the material signs of nativism (the elimination of foreign influence) and revivalism (the introduction of cultural practices characteristic of previous generations). The results of these analyses suggest that the revitalization movement flourished among the people of the Jemez Province in the years immediately following the Pueblo Revolt. New iconic architectural forms were created to index the past and emphasize traditional Pueblo social organization, while transformations in ceramic production and exchange attest to the commitment to nativism and revivalism in these communities. By the early 1690s, however, the revivalistic element appears to have lost momentum. A resurgence of nativism in 1696 fueled a second uprising, ending the Pueblo Revolt era. This study concludes that revitalization movements are highly negotiated and heterogeneous phenomena. The social practices of revitalization often differ from official doctrines, and the actions of followers frequently do not correspond with the words of leaders. Furthermore, the archaeological record underscores the observation that revivalism results in the creation of new forms, rather than the replication of old ones. Finally, the material culture of the Pueblo Revolt era calls attention to the effects these movements can have on long-term cultural development, emphasizing the need to consider revitalization movements in the formulation of general theories of culture change.

Rachel E. Scott, PhD (ANTH)

Social Identity in Early Medieval Ireland: A Bioarchaeology of the Early Christian Cemetery on Omey Island, Co. Galway


An understanding of identity, of how individuals and groups relate to each other, is fundamental to any understanding of human social life both in the present and in the past. Bioarchaeology offers a powerful, though often underutilized, means for investigating identity in past societies. Not only are identities created and expressed through the manipulation of the physical body, but also the body forms a basis for and shapes social relations and identities. Because of this reciprocal relationship, we can access identities in the past through the contextual analysis of human remains. This work demonstrates the potential of the bioarchaeology of social identity using a case study from early medieval Ireland (c. AD 400-1200). By analyzing the cemetery on Omey Island, Co. Galway within its larger historical and cultural contexts, I explore how people in early medieval Ireland actively created and maintained their social identities. I employ an explicitly bioarchaeological approach—integrating human skeletal, archaeological, and historical data—in order to discuss identity construction at both the level of the community and that of the person. I address identity at the level of the community by considering the role of Omey Island in the surrounding region. Despite living in dispersed farmsteads, the early medieval inhabitants of the area formed a local community through participation in ritual activities—both burial and pilgrimage—at a single location, Omey Island. At the level of the person, I interrelate status hierarchies, kinship relations, age categories, and gender roles in order to reconstruct the early Irish life course, i.e. the cultural narrative of aging in early medieval Ireland. For both the individual and the collective, the evidence testifies to the central role of religious and ritual activities in the construction of social identity in early Ireland. Individuals actively chose to participate in ritual practices which delineated their social roles, bound them together in a local community, and affiliated them with the larger early Christian community in Ireland.


Matthew D. Adams, PhD (ANTH)



This dissertation investigates aspects of household and community organization at Abydos, Egypt, a major provincial town, within the context of larger questions about the nature of Egyptian society. The temporal context is the First Intermediate Period, a period of relative political decentralization. Based primarily on the original excavation of a group of houses from this period in the ancient town site of Abydos, this study examines several parameters of household and community organization as indicators of some of the basic building blocks of Egyptian society. This study provides a window on the role of settlements in ancient Egypt within the framework of historical circumstances and examines some important attributes of societal complexity in Egypt. A degree of individualism is indicated even within the narrow segment of the town excavated. The size and organization of the houses, and hence the likely statuses of their inhabitants, varies notably. The evident variability suggests the complexity of the Egyptian socio-economic system and the degree to which the houses connected to larger social and economic contexts in different ways and to different degrees, giving the impression that different households pursued different strategies and had different priorities. This investigation at Abydos illuminates important aspects of the complexity of Egyptian society in general in the First Intermediate Period and the degree to which provincial life continued as usual even in the absence of a single unitary state. A significant implication of this research is that the extent of state control of and involvement in the structure of daily life in ancient Egypt has often been overestimated. This necessarily forces a reevaluation of the role of the state administration in the daily life of the majority of ancient Egyptians and the degree to which political centralization had an effect on the social and economic organization of provincial areas, with implications for a number of analytical models that have been applied to ancient Egypt.

Ömür Harmanşah, PhD (ARTH)

Spatial Narratives, Commemorative Practices and the Building Project: New Urban Foundations in Upper Syro-Mesopotamia during the Early Iron Age


This dissertation investigates the practice of founding new cities in the ancient Near East as a socio-cultural phenomenon. Among Upper Syro-Mesopotamian polities of the Early Iron Age (EIA, ca. 1200-850 BC), notably the regional states of the Syro-Hittite world and Assyria, the idea of establishing new urban settlements was a cross-culturally shared landscape strategy. In their commemorative monuments, EIA elites developed an eloquent rhetoric that prioritized the cultivation of landscapes and construction of cities. The phenomenon is, therefore, understood as a cross-cultural historical problem and explored on an interregional scale. Archaeological and epigraphic evidence suggests that these building projects were socially significant undertakings that transformed the urban sphere as well as their rural hinterlands. Through the analysis of material evidence from several case studies, new foundations are interpreted on three spatio-temporal scales: long-term processes of landscape change and settlement history, production of urban space through large-scale building activities, and the development of symbolically charged architectural technologies. The dissertation incorporates contemporary critical approaches to landscape history, urbanization, social practices, architectural space and material culture, and attempts to develop a discourse on how social memories are constructed through space-producing activities. In terms of long-term settlement history, new foundations were not confined to elite-initiated urban centers, but rather marked a hallmark of settlement trends across Upper Mesopotamia in the EIA, because they were attested in various scales including villages, farmsteads, frontier fortresses and regional centers. Foundations were festive events where performative spectacles of commemoration took place and where the society’s relationship with history was redefined. The construction projects involved the narrativization of urban spaces through the making of a constellation of commemorative monuments. This was partly accomplished through the technique of raising stone orthostats with narrative relief programs in public contexts, a technique that became an interregional practice among EIA cities. As a technological style and architectonic aesthetics in the urban landscapes, orthostat programs acted as material manifestations of elite ideology, cultural representation and spatial practice. The three scales of analysis contribute to the interpretation of new urban foundations as a material as well as a representational practice of spatial production and signification.

Miranda Stockett Suri, PhD (ANTH)

Practicing Identities: Modeling Affiliation on Multiple Social Scales at Late Classic (A.D. 650–960) Las Canoas, Honduras


The study of identity is central to anthropological research and its focus on human lives in the past and present. Identity shapes the ways people perceive themselves and structure their interactions with others, yet is often difficult to define analytically, explain anthropologically, or locate archaeologically. This dissertation addresses these problems, focusing on debated issues of identity in southeastern Mesoamerica through the examination of affiliative practices at Las Canoas, a Late-to-Terminal Classic (A.D. 650-960) community in northwestern Honduras. Data excavated from Las Canoas permits the study of daily practices of dwelling, production, ritual action, building practices, economic strategies, and socio-political organization. I employ a practices of affiliation approach; conceptualizing identity as the repeated performance of affiliative sentiments that shape, and are shaped by, social life and the material world. In particular, three social and analytical scales are examined: the household, the community, and the region. Conclusions drawn from this data suggest that social identities at Las Canoas were profoundly shaped by the overlapping nature of affiliative practices. The performance of identities, such as “craft producer” or “ritual specialist”, were intimately impacted by practices occurring within households, at the level of the community, and within the region as a whole. The data also suggest that identities at Las Canoas were shaped by instrumental agendas, as well as by more enduring, ideological aspects of regional affiliation and practice. Las Canoans negotiated their position in the local sociopolitical hierarchy by specializing in the production of pottery for export, and they appear to have manipulated external affiliations to maximize and foster their role in the regional exchange system. Engagement in certain domestic and ritual practices, however, appeared more static and enduring, connecting Las Canoans to sentiments of identity shaped by quotidian practice, symbolism, and beliefs that extended far beyond the river valley and region. Thus, while some aspects of group identity were intentionally initiated, altered, or abandoned, others had a more lasting quality that was less immediately linked to salient politico-economic agendas.

Wu Xin, PhD (ARTH)

Central Asia in the Context of the Achaemenid Persian Empire (6th to 4th centuries B.C.)


This dissertation investigates the imperial relationship between the heartland and provinces of the Achaemenid Persian Empire (c. 559-330 B.C.). It discusses various historical and social aspects of the Empire’s northeastern provinces (Bactria, Sogdiana and Chorasmia), located in modern-day Central Asia, and the Persian presence in and impact on the region’s social and political situations, religious ideologies, and artistic practices, through examinations of the surviving material culture, including primarily artifacts and their decorations, retrieved from archaeological excavations. The thesis approaches the northeastern provinces from three different perspectives: that of the Persians in the imperial heartland in western Iran, that of the peoples in the northeastern provinces in Central Asia, and that of the (semi)nomadic groups to the north and east beyond the imperial boundaries on the eastern part of the Eurasian steppe. The official inscriptions, monumental and glyptic art, and administrative texts from the imperial heartland (Persian, Elam and Media) suggest that Central Asia was largely integrated into the imperial ideological and administrative system. Meanwhile, conflicts between the Empire’s northeastern frontier and its central government were frequent. The social landscape of the northeastern provinces, reconstructed from material found in Central Asia, primarily architecture and artifacts, demonstrates links between the material culture of Central Asia and that of the imperial heartland, suggesting that the Persian visual language, in which the imperial ideology was embedded, was enthusiastically accepted by the social elite in Central Asia; whereas the daily life of ordinary people remained largely unchanged, as the forms and techniques of the architecture and ceramics continued the old Central Asian traditions. The Achaemenid Persian Empire also had a strong impact on the ethno-cultural societies of the (semi) nomadic groups living beyond the imperial boundaries on the steppe to the north and east in modern-day Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Xinjiang and in the Altai Mountains in Southern Siberia, as suggested by the active adoption of the Persian style in artistic representations. This Persian influence on the art of the steppe, filtered through the northeastern provinces, indicates, in turn, a reflection of a strong Persian presence in and impact on Central Asia.


Michael Frachetti, PhD (ANTH)

Bronze Age Pastoral Landscapes of Eurasia and the Nature of Social Interaction in the Mountain Steppe Zone of Eastern Kazakhstan


This study focuses on the nature of social and economic interaction among Late Bronze Age (c.1800-1500 BC) pastoralists of the mountainous steppes of Semirech’ya (eastern Kazakhstan). This period is typically documented in terms of various regional archaeological culture groups of the Andronovo Cultural Community, whose alleged mobility contributed to the formation of a wide macro phenomenon that spanned the Eurasian steppe zone, reflected in the wide distribution of a common material culture. The genesis of this distribution is typically explained through models of long distance migration or cultural diffusion, which resulted from the demands of an extensive pastoral economy and was facilitated by the ability to ride horses on the part of Bronze Age groups. This study challenges these models using archaeological data recovered from archaeological survey and excavations carried out by the author in the Koksu River Valley in the Dzhungar Mountains (Semirech’ye). The survey documented substantial settlements, burials, and ritual locations, and excavations of a settlement and three burials revealed exotic Bronze Age ceramics, and bronze and gold jewelry, dating to the early 2nd millennium BC using absolute and typological dating methods. The analytical approach brings together detailed environmental analysis, ethno-historical documentation, and archaeological materials of the study zone to illustrate that Late Bronze Age pastoralists of the Koksu Valley were engaged in regionally limited, though geographically variable, pattern of mobility and interaction. Botanical sampling contributed to reconstructions of the region’s paleo-environment, and stratigraphic reconstructions contributed to an argument for a limited seasonal migration pattern on the part of Bronze Age pastoralists. This localized mobility helped form a dynamic “landscape,” which reflected the “ordered variability” in the practices of Bronze Age populations. This condition of localized variable mobility enabled them to establish diverse social, political, and economic relationships of interaction with regional groups, and generated a context by which exotic materials were introduced as part of social and political interaction within a regional context, and not necessarily due to long distance contacts.


Janice-Louise Cross, PhD (AMES/NELC)



This dissertation investigates the connection between sunrise and the determination of destiny in ancient Mesopotamia, focusing on Sumerian and Akkadian language evidence of the Ur III and Old Babylonian periods (c. 2100-1600 B.C.). It elucidates this religious belief through an examination of the ideology and ritual enactment associated with sunrise fate determination, providing a discussion of the Mesopotamian concept of fate determination, a description of the imagery of sunrise and the place of sunrise, as well as an overview of the duties of the rising sun god, and an outline of the form, structure and components of sunrise ceremonies of fate determination. Throughout the dissertation an investigation into the entwined nature of the ideology of kingship and the decree of destiny at sunrise, along with an examination of the role of the Mesopotamian ruler in rituals at sunrise fate determination is pursued.


William Bradley Hafford, PhD (AAMW)

Merchants in the Late Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean: Tools, Texts and Trade


Ancient economic interactions were much more complex than often assumed. Cross-cultural relations were relatively commonplace and this interaction contributed to a growing, if fluctuating, ‘world economy’. The people who were fundamental in the establishment and continuation of this system were those clever enough to understand and manipulate the differential in value across regions. These people, working especially for or with the support of large institutions (political or religious), gradually became a recognized professional class of merchants. This dissertation examines this development and proposes that merchants, performing varied duties based on their access to capital, existed in the Late Bronze Age as evidenced through ancient textual material. It further proposes that these people can be detected in the archaeological record through the tools used in their everyday conduct of business. Particularly important for mercantile operations were weights, scales and bullion, and these objects are often found together in royal, domestic, religious and burial contexts throughout the Bronze Age eastern Mediterranean and Aegean. Though the finds are largely consistent within each of these major areas, however, broad differences in the type and context of the assemblage is clearly indicated between them, indicating a difference in the operation of trade in the Aegean as opposed to the larger eastern Mediterranean. The noted division begins to break down at the end of the Late Bronze Age, with the Near Eastern merchant assemblage appearing in the Aegean in the Late Minoan III period, but the resulting super-network lasts only a short time before it is disrupted in the following Early Iron Age. The disintegration of large networks at this time may have been facilitated by the clash of individual as opposed to institutional accumulation of wealth. Merchants had the potential to amass personal wealth, thus destabilizing the redistributive governments, which were based on their access to precious materials and prestige objects, and such potential contributed to the general distrust of merchants that is to be seen throughout much of history.

James R. Mathieu, PhD (ANTH)

Assessing Political Complexity in Medieval England: An Analysis of Royal Buildings and Strategies


The primary objective of this study is to further develop anthropological models of complexity and political development by focusing them on a historically well-known and rich data set. This is done by developing a general interpretive framework within which political complexity can be assessed through an analysis of material remains and their patterning. This framework uses a decision-making model to understand the process by which individuals affect the world around them and then reverses it so that material evidence can be used to infer past processes, behaviors, and the strategies people used (particularly those that resulted in increasing political complexity). This framework is then used to assess the political development of medieval England as a case study. Arguing that medieval England’s political organization is represented by the roughly 650 royal buildings that existed between AD 1066 and 1650, England’s political development is assessed via an analysis of the royal strategies that pertained to them. These include strategies of (1) building acquisition, (2) military control, (3) administrative control, (4) residential organization, (5) building alienation and granting, (6) strategies using ideology and symbolism, and (7) royal organizational strategies. By emphasizing temporal correlations in royal strategy use, two major strategic complexes are identified. Tying these into the wider historical and contextual framework (particularly the royal interests and socio-environmental conditions which provoked specific strategy use), the chain of historical causality that led from the earlier to the later complex is illustrated. With this detailed historical contextualization and a focus on how royal strategies affected the five variables of complexity (scale, horizontal differentiation, vertical differentiation centralization, and integrations), this analysis shows an overall growth in political complexity during the period under study, particularly as a result of the degree of royal mobility. By relating increasing political complexity to the pursuit of specific royal strategies and their (un)intended consequences, medieval England’s specific path of political development is illustrated. This leads to the further development of anthropological models of complexity and shows the importance of individuals and/or small groups in the process of political development.

Emily Morris, PhD (AMES/NELC)

The Architecture of Imperialism: An Investigation into the Role of Fortresses and Administrative Headquarters in New Kingdom Foreign Policy


This study explores the subject of New Kingdom foreign policy via a comprehensive examination of the fortresses and administrative headquarters that the Egyptians erected on their borders and in foreign territory. The topic is approached through a gathering and synthesis of both textual and archaeological data as it exists for the early, middle, and late Eighteenth Dynasty, as well as for the Nineteenth and Twentieth Dynasties. Such a chronological division affords a clear insight into the evolution of Egypt’s imperial priorities and tactics. Further, the frontiers of Syria-Palestine, Nubia, and Libya are all considered within this work to compose a more comprehensive picture and to allow for an examination as to how the imperial policies practiced on one frontier influenced policies later enacted in another. From this study it can be seen that the Egyptians employed four major types of military base. (1) At the points at which the Nile Valley could be easily penetrated, they erected htm -fortresses. These entities served largely to monitor and regulate the passage of people and goods across Egypt’s border. (2) On the coastal road to Libya and in Nubia, the Egyptians constructed fortress-towns (mnnw or dmiw )–abiding by the philosophy that a potential enemy, like a crocodile, can snatch from a lonely road but cannot seize from a populous town. (3) The construction of modestly sized forts is limited to the highway along the Ways of Horus. These structures served to protect wells and foodstuffs, but were of little utility against a truly threatening foe. (4) In the Eastern Sinai and in Syria-Palestine, the Egyptians occupied administrative headquarters. These unfortified enclaves were generally commandeered from vassals in the Eighteenth Dynasty. It was only in the Nineteenth Dynasty, then, that the Egyptians began in earnest to sponsor the construction of permanent bases in Palestine. This policy shift, it is argued, stemmed from a post-Amarna administrative reform that affected both Egypt and its foreign territories equally.

Julia L. Shear, PhD (AAMW)

Polis and Panathenaia: The History and Development of Athena’s Festival


This dissertation provides the first diachronic investigation of the history and development of the Panathenaia at Athens, the city’s most important festival honoring the goddess Athena. Previous scholars have either discussed the celebration in the overall context of Athenian religion or focused on particular details without consideration of the occasion’s overall development. These approaches have been synchronic and they assume that the festival remained static over the course of its history. Through detailed study of the extensive literary and epigraphical testimonia and of the relevant visual material, primarily Panathenaic prize amphorae and victors’ monuments, this project shows that the festivities changed extensively during the course of their history from their reorganization in 566/5 B.C. until the last decade of the fourth century A.D. It also demonstrates that the Panathenaia commemorated the gods’ conquest of the Giants and was unified by its victory theme. As an “all-Athenian” celebration, the occasion also helped to elucidate what it meant to be an Athenian: public participation in the event. This historical investigation provides the foundation for the study’s second part concerning the relationship between the Panathenaia and the Athenian topography in which it was set. It shows that celebration activated the cityscape and directly affected the development of Athens. The festival’s victory and mythological themes were used repeatedly in the iconographical programs of the monuments and they linked the different venues to create a Panathenaic network encompassing the city. Studying these relationships also emphasizes the way in which human military achievements were assimilated to the divine success so that the Panathenaia also celebrated Athenian martial victory: to be an Athenian was to be successful in war and to commemorate the city’s accomplishments at Athena’s festival. The connections between the topography and the festivities show that, in the Roman period, the occasion continued to emphasize the city’s military successes, albeit historical rather than current ones, as well as her role as an important cultural center.


Lada Onyshkevych, PhD

Archaic and Classical Cult-related Graffiti from the Northern Black Sea Region


The Olbian Calendar Inscription, the Olbian Louterion Graffito, the Berezan Bone Plaque, and the Olbian Hermes Graffiti all have great potential significance in their unique contributions to our understanding of certain local cults in the Northern Black Sea region, as well as in the larger Greek world, in the Archaic and Classical periods. Yet the interpretations of the texts and of the overall significance of these graffiti, as provided in the initial publications, are inadequate in many respects, including establishment of key aspects such as chronology, linguistic and epigraphic analysis, and relevance to known religious practices. In this study, these graffiti are reexamined in every aspect, to form a more solid basis for new interpretations. The study includes reassessment of the archaeological context of each object, analysis of pottery shapes and epigraphical forms, and investigation of relevant evidence of religious practices in the Olbia-Berezan region and in the larger Greek world. New readings are presented in most cases, based on careful examination and study of the original objects. Linguistic aspects are explored, including comparisons with morphology and phrasing in other inscriptions and in literary texts. After each of these key aspects of preliminary study are established, new interpretations for the significance of each text and object are proposed, although some problems necessarily remain unresolved due to lack of sufficient evidence. Each graffito yields valuable information on such aspects of local Greek religious life as the calendar in Olbia, the aspects of Apollo chosen for emphasis by local cults, such as letros and Delphinios, the role of Hermes’ cult in the region, and the presence in Berezan of an Orphic-like hebdomadic cult group, connected to Apollo. The general picture yielded by these graffiti as a group is of a rich and varied religious life in Olbia and Berezan, grounded in the traditions of the mother-city, Miletus, but growing and developing on its own as well, and placing particular emphasis on individual cult aspects which suit the needs of these young colonies


Matt Waters, PhD (ANCH)

A survey of Neo-Elamite History


This work is a historical analysis of the written sources for the Neo-Elamite period, approximately 1000 to 550 BC, in southwestern Iran. Extant material for this subject is meager, especially with regard to the available Elamite inscriptions. The study thus relies primarily upon Assyrian and Babylonian (i.e., Mesopotamian) sources: royal inscriptions, official correspondence, and chronicles, among others. It notes the assumptions and concerns involved with the use of the predominantly Mesopotamian source material for Neo-Elamite history. The inquiry considers the nature of the available evidence, its reliability, and its particular significance with regard to the reign of each Neo-Elamite king. This analysis constitutes the bulk of the work. Focus then shifts to the late source material, after the mid-seventh century BC, and Neo-Elamite rulers of uncertain date. Conclusions drawn from the study are applied to a brief discussion of Neo-Elamite political structure.


Jon Pressman, PhD (ANTH)

Shifting registers: language shift and consequences for honorification on St. Barthélemey



Cynthia Robinson, PhD (ARTH)

Palace architecture and ornament in the “courtly” discourse of the Muluk Al-Tawa’If: metaphor and utopia


This dissertation proposes that, in the case of the court art of the taifa kingdoms (muluk al-tawa’if) of al-Andalus during the latter half of the 11th century A.D., nonfigural ornament was accorded a specific significance when it appeared in a palatial context, particularly in the context of spaces designed as settings for the royal majlis. The majlis, a gathering of the king and a small number of carefully chosen intimates, was a social topos which, while clearly related to Abbasi “courtly” lore and literature, came to be a sign of kingship for taifa royal patrons. Through elaborate metaphorical “descriptions”, most of which serve to evoke an earthly paradise, majlis literature written in the badi’ style–both prose and poetry–served both as history of and blueprint for these gatherings. More importantly, through the highly suggestive metaphors used in the descriptions of majlis settings, this literature served to induce a “transformation”, in the minds of a carefully controlled and highly educated audience, of the palatial setting against whose backdrop their gatherings took place into a three-dimensional reflection of the paradisiac ideal evoked by majlis literature.


Deborah M. Deliyannis, PhD (ARTH)

The “Liber Pontificalis Ecclesiae Ravennatis”: Critical Edition and Commentary


For over three centuries, the Liber Pontificalis Ecclesiae Ravennatis (LPR), written in the 830’s and 840’s by Andreas Agnellus of Ravenna, has been ‘mined’ for facts about early medieval Ravenna by historians and art historians, and criticized for its inadequacies. Agnellus’ models, motives, and historiographical methods all affect the way that information is presented, yet these factors have never been closely examined. In this dissertation, I provide a new edition of the Latin text, with new notes, and a commentary that examines the way in which Agnellus arranged and compiled his text. The three genres that contributed to the makeup of the LPR, all of which are specifically related to bishops–gesta episcoporum, hagiography, and sermons–are examined, and specific works that influenced Agnellus are identified and discussed, in particular the Roman Liber Pontificalis and the works of Gregory of Tours, Gregory the Great, and Peter Chrysologus. Agnellus’ historical methodology is explained, namely, that he included information only when the name of a bishop of Ravenna in his source told him where it belonged chronologically. Each of Agnellus’ sources, and the use he made of it, is examined in turn. Mentions of art and architecture, apparently based on Agnellus’ personal experience, perform several different functions within the text. The descriptions of art and architecture are examined in the contexts of the type of discourse in which they appear, and the sources from which Agnellus learned about them. It becomes clear that the language that he used in each passage is influenced by the context and function of that passage, as well as by the language of his sources and models; a glossary of terms, with a discussion of the context and sources for each, is included. The relation of the LPR to the two main political and cultural watersheds of the ninth century, the Carolingian Renaissance and the Iconoclastic Controversy, is examined. Finally, the history of the text in its various manuscript versions, and the explanation of the edition that follows, as well as a planned published edition, are presented.

Bratislav Pantelic, PhD (ARTH)

The architecture of Dečani and the role of Archbishop Danilo II


Founded in 1327 by King Stefan Uros III, the most venerated member of the Nemanjic dynasty, the monastery of Decani stood at the heart of medieval Serbia: near the seat of the patriarchate and at the intersection of an important trade route connecting Dalmatian coastal towns with the Balkan hinterland. From the inscription above the south portal of its monumental Romanesque katholikon we learn that the church was built by the master builder Fra Vita, a minorite from the town of Kotor, and that it was dedicated to Christ the Pantokrator. The architectural historical position of this edifice, somewhat vaguely described early in the century as the most consistently “Western” in character of all the Serbian medieval churches, has found broad acceptance and remains virtually uncontested. Standing in sharp contrast with the basilican organization of its Early Gothic structural system, the strong centralizing tendency of the plan and spatial organization of its interior, has never been quite explained by scholars. A closer examination of the physical evidence reveals a surprisingly novel attitude toward architectural design and planning. For the first time in the wider Byzantine sphere we have evidence of planning consciously extending beyond simple emulation or repetition of typological patterns. This was certainly due to the role of Archbishop Danilo II, the royal advisor on questions of art, who ingeniously applied the fresco decoration as a planing device, and articulated the internal spatial disposition. With an almost mannerist boldness, the builder ventured a remarkable experiment, and radically altered an established building type, the five-aisled basilica, incorporating within its shell a fusion of the traditional old Serbian single-aisled domed nave and the Late Byzantine ambulatory. In disclosing the organizational pattern that had laid concealed within its structural system, this study has greatly clarified the historical position of this important monument. Rather than Western, or Eastern, Decani represents a synthesis of the national architectural tradition, a programmatic statement created by Archbishop Danilo to embody the fundamental postulates of the Serbian monarchy.


Bien Daniel Chiang, PhD (ANTH)

House and social hierarchy of the Paiwan


This is an ethnographic study of the Paiwan, an Austronesian group of about 55,000 people living in the southern part of the island of Taiwan. The Paiwan subsists on swidden agriculture and hunting, supplemented by cash income generated from salary jobs. The people is renowned for their highly formalized social hierarchical system and a sophisticated artistic tradition in wood and slate carving, embroidery and beads work. The thesis follows an ethnohistorical point of view, and tries to present the process of structuration of Paiwan society. Two major social institutions are focused upon: house and social hierarchy. They are treated as loci in which practices of human agents are modeled as well as modeling the trajectory of history. Two Paiwan villages, Parilaiyan of the northwest region and Tjuabar of the east coast, provide the ethnographic material for discussion. In Chapter Three through Five, the Paiwan house is, first, presented as a focal idiom in ethnohistorical accounts, then, as a social unit with a corporate sole, and, finally, as a cultural institution that interplay with people in a dialectic process of mutual definition. In examining Paiwan social hierarchical system, I make the distinctions between two dyadic relationships, according to the material of Parilaiyan: the landlord-tenant dyad and the patron-client dyad. This is, then, compared to the supra-village chieftain system of Tjuabar. With this comparison, it is clear that economic privilege is not always an integral part of the status of Paiwan aristocrats; nor is their political power universally recognized. Only ritual privileges of the aristocrats are common and prominent. The last part of the thesis is a description of the most spectacular ritual practice of the Paiwan, now still thriving in Tjuabar village, the Five-year Rite (leve-leveq-an). The rite, based on the history of inland migration originated from the sacred mountain, and the belief of the returning of ancestral spirits from the sacred mountain to each village, is a superb illustration of the place of aristocrats in the embodiment of Paiwan ethnohistory.


John Holloran, BA (ANTH)

University of Virginia PhD in History, 2000

Professors of Enlightenment at the University of Halle, 1690–1730


This dissertation follows Halle’s battles from the debates and events leading to the founding of the University in 1694 up through the banishment of Christian Wolff and the ensuing “Wolffian” controversies of the 1720s.  It concentrates on the disposition of Halle’s new philosophy curriculum and whether it would be oriented to spiritual growth and piety under the leadership of the theology faculty or to practical knowledge and worldly wisdom under the leadership of law professors.  Wolff later complicated matters by arguing that the philosophy curriculum should instead cultivate an ethic of mathematical certainty, methodological rigor, and scientific discovery.  

Some of the most influential minds of the Enlightenment were implicated in Halle’s faculty conflicts—including Christian Wolff, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Samuel Pufendorf, Christian Thomasius, and the “Pietist” theologians Phillip Jacob Spener and August Hermann Francke.  Although Halle’s leading lights shared a common dedication to peace, tolerance, academic freedom, and a practically oriented philosophy curriculum, they parted company when it came to institutionalizing these Enlightenment ideals.  Halle’s professors fought over teaching appointments, administrative posts, student discipline, and the distribution of University finances.  They took their disputes to the King’s court and incited confessional and political factions in their lobbying efforts.  In the process of disagreeing, Halle’s professors broke almost all of their own tenets of Enlightenment sociability. 

Theorists have long noted the willingness of German Enlightenment thinkers to embrace not only intellectual freedom but also absolutist modes of political authority.  This dissertation questions the distinction made between public and private—the realm of intellectual freedom vs. political considerations and personal interests—and portrays the complex stakes and elaborate political considerations involved in German academic life.  The expectation that scholars transcend all personal interests, cultural prejudice and political bias, and produce disinterested scholarship has a history.  In their battles the professors articulated these expectations in an attempt to insulate themselves from religious denunciation and political retribution. 


Salah Hassan, PhD (Folklore)

Lore of the traditional Malam: material culture of literacy and ethnography of writing among the Hausa of Northern Nigeria