Current Research Projects

Diane Barker

Diane Barker
Supervisor: Professor Dan Potts (The University of Sydney / Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University)
Associate Supervisors: Professor Peter Magee (Bryn Mawr College, Philadelphia) and Professor Alison Betts (The University of Sydney)

Mapping Regional Development and Change in Prehistoric Southeastern Arabia: The Bronze Age Settlement at Tell Abraq, United Arab Emirates
Tell Abraq, a settlement on the Persian Gulf Coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is one of the most important multi-period archaeological sites in southeastern Arabia. It is distinguished by a continuous archaeological sequence spanning approximately 2000 years, with a Bronze Age occupation from approximately 2200 to 1250 BC.

My research has two primary aims. Firstly, a detailed study of the architecture and stratigraphy will provide new insights into the diachronic development of a multi-period site in a region characterised by a scarcity of such sites. The intensity of development at Tell Abraq provides an opportunity to undertake a critical analysis of the dynamics of site formation at the local level. The site-specific analysis will lay the foundation for a broader consideration of settlement patterns, occupational intensity, economic spheres of influence and social complexity during the southeast Arabian Bronze Age.

Secondly, although the ceramic assemblage will be used as an aid in clarifying the phasing of the archaeological sequence, Tell Abraq’s uninterrupted stratigraphy also presents a unique opportunity to trace the internal development of the local ceramic sequence during the Bronze Age. Unlike traditional pottery studies, groups of ceramics will be analysed within their stratigraphic contexts, regardless of shape, to identify the ceramic forms in use at Tell Abraq at different times. This exercise will represent a unique ‘point-in-time’ developmental study of ceramic shapes for the mid to late Bronze Age. This investigation will be married with the analysis of the architecture and the stratigraphy in order to present a fully contextualised study of the Bronze Age period at Tell Abraq.

Ana Becerra

Ana Becerra
Supervisor: Dr Javier Álvarez-Mon
Associate Supervisor: Professor Daniel Potts

The Lion, the Bull and the Griffin in the Iconography of Assyria, Elam and Persia, c. 1000 – 330 B.C.E.
By the first millennium B.C.E. the iconography of the elite in the ancient Near East had developed into a complex symbolic medium replete with images chosen for their connotations of power, hierarchy and world order. When analysing objects from the Assyrian, Neo-Elamite and Achaemenid Persian periods, it is evident that animal and animal-hybrid imagery, notably that of the lion, the bull and the griffin, is strongly associated with the expression of imperial control and humanity’s relationship with the natural and spiritual realms.
My research examines the role that images of the lion, the bull and the griffin play in the construction of the Achaemenid Persian vision of kingship. Whilst these creatures have a long history as the attributes and antagonists of royalty and the divine in the ancient Near East, it is during the Achaemenid period that they appear inextricably linked to the official image and mythology of a dynasty of kings. In line with recent movement the study of Achaemenid Persia, my research will understand the importance of lion, bull and griffin motif to Achaemenid art within the context of preceding Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Elamite traditions with an eye for stylistic and symbolic continuity.
Academia profile

Natalie Blake

Natalie Blake
Supervisor: Dr Martin Gibbs
Associate Supervisor: Dr Annie Clarke

Economy, Subsistence and Trade in the Late Prehistoric Southeast Solomon Islands: a Makiran case study
My major focus is on the archaeology of the late prehistoric period in the southeast Solomon Islands. I am working as part of an Australian Research Council funded project named ‘Beyond the New World: a 16th century Spanish colony and its impact on indigenous populations in the Solomon Islands’, with Dr Martin Gibbs as Chief Investigator. This project is in close collaboration with the Solomon Islands National Museum and local landowners.

I am looking at a range of cultural markers that have the potential to characterise the late prehistoric period in the southeast Solomon Islands with Mwanihuki, an abandoned village site on the northern coast on Makira as a case study. This site has a number of indicators that show the study area was the location of a highly populated area, with evidence of economic and social intensification in the late prehistoric period. The presence of 16th century Spanish pottery on the surface of the site, intermixed with a dense scatter of chert, along with worked and subsistence shell on a number of middens, as well as rectangular burial structures and house platforms provides a rich source of data to consider these themes.

Initial work was conducted here by Professor Roger Green and Michael W. Kaschko in the 1970s, recent excavations were conducted here in 2010 and 2011 and work is ongoing.

David Brotherson

David Brotherson
Supervisor: Professor Roland Fletcher

The Demise and Transformation of Angkor: A Study of Ceramics and the Urban Environment
The demise of Angkor is only beginning to be understood in terms of the archaeological record, having been based too long on unreliable historical records. To understand the transformation of Angkor from an urban capital to a scattered group of villages requires the identification of when certain areas cease to be occupied. In general the chronology of domestically produced (Khmer) ceramics are poorly understood and practically unknown for the late- and post-Angkorian periods (14th ­to 18th centuries). Conversely, ceramics produced in China, Thailand and Vietnam were exported extensively throughout Southeast Asia (and beyond) and, due to the variety of contexts in which they are found, offer a finer chronological resolution.

The primary research objective is to use the foreign produced ceramics found at Angkor to date archaeological contexts, specifically, the terminus date of occupation. Pedestrian surveys gather surface collections of ceramics over wide transects of the Angkorian settlement. In conjunction with targeted test pit excavations, areas with promising surface scatters are investigated to establish a chronology for post-Angkorian Khmer ceramics. In addition to ceramic analyses, modifications to the infrastructure of the urban environment (i.e. hydraulic, religious, defensive) are also considered, and how the spatial and temporal implications of these phenomena relate to the population model.

Stephen (Steve) Brown (PhD)
Supervisor: Dr Anne Clarke
Associate Supervisor: Dr Denis Byrne

Placing attachment, practicing heritage: Re-thinking belonging in the field of heritage studies
In the field of heritage theory and practice, place-attachment is typically characterised as a process of bonding between a group and place. Attachment is thus conceptualised as a linear relationship (i.e., people + place = attachment) in which the component parts are stable and separate entities. I suggest that this model is problematic on two counts. First, material things (natural materials and culturally produced objects) are absent. Second, in line with work being undertaken more broadly across the humanities and social sciences, I argue for a conceptualisation of place-attachment that emphases co-evolution, co-production and co-enactment and focuses on entanglement between people, place and things rather than interactions of pre-existing, separate entities. I propose the following definition: place-attachment is a distributed property that emerges through the entanglements of individuals (or groups), places and things.

I explore the implications of this definition through four field studies. These are: Old Currango (Kosciuszko National Park), Glen Eden (near Bathurst), Darcoola Station (near Hay), and 85 Fairview Street, Arncliffe (my home). The field data is used to examine the implications for heritage practice of conceptualising place-attachment as assemblages of humans, places and things that become embedded, entangled or enfolded across and into one another.

Jillian Comber
Supervisor: Dr Annie Clarke
Associate Supervisor: TBA

Heritage in the context of dispossession: an analyses of applied cultural heritage and Indigenous people in rural New South Wales: A study of the creation of “dissonant heritage” in the management of the past as a resource in conflict resolution.
The terms “cultural heritage” and “heritage” have multiple meanings. Where once “cultural heritage” had a very specific application to the physical remains of human culture the term and its abbreviation to “heritage” have now evolved into a multiplicity of meanings. These meanings have been usurped for political benefit by both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous community. The exploitation of the past for the creation of “heritage” inevitably affects the nature of the resource which could lead to a distortion of the past. The distinction between the past as history and the past as heritage will be examined in association with a rural Aboriginal community in Central NSW, the Bogan River Wiradjuri. The data will be analysed to understand the cultural significance of archaeology and anthropology to the Bogan River Wiradjuri. The archaeological research will contribute to Indigenous representation, identification and understanding. Identity in the modern world creates and is created by the past. The denial of Aboriginal prehistory, occupation and identify through “terra nullius” and cultural appropriation has contributed to the ongoing denial of Aboriginality and inclusiveness. Aboriginal people are relegated to the margins of mainstream Australia through ongoing cultural colonisation and dissonance.

Ghada Daher

Ghada (Rada) Daher
Supervisor: Professor Alison Betts
Associate Supervisor: Dr Ina Kehrberg-Ostrasz

Terracotta Figurines from Beirut, 13 Century BC to 4th Century AD
My PhD research is on Beirut terracotta figurines, from the 13th century BC to the 4th century AD.

The archaeological remains in Beirut are extremely rich in artefacts covering all the important archaeological periods in the Mediterranean from Prehistory through to Classical and on to Ottoman. Preliminary reports on recent excavations in Beirut proved that, contrary to Herodotus, Beirut was established well before the 5th century BC. Through my research I intend to confirm these preliminary reports and provide a detailed specialised study of Beirut terracotta figurines.
My corpus includes around 1400 figurines (most incomplete). I aim to identify the typology, qualitative/quantitative material and investigate their evolution. This new data will help to determine Beirut’s population, the development of its cults, and also the interrelations between typology and local/imported productions. I will also seek to explain the socio-cultural-religious dynamics in the ancient city. Using GIS, I will look at the distribution of the figurines in the city between temples, houses and shops.

I collected 349 samples for chemical analysis. Analyses reports will be incorporated in my thesis and will determine the provenance of the figurines and confirm locally made/imported types and their concentration in the city.

This data will help to write an account of the missing link in the history of ancient Beirut.

Meg Dains

Meg Dains
Supervisor: Associate Professor Lesley Beaumont
Associate Supervisor: Associate Professor Julia Kindt

Archaeological investigation of the religious landscape of an Aegean Early Iron Age settlement: the case of Emporio
My research project is an archaeological investigation of the religious landscape of settlements in the Aegean in the Early Iron Age, with specific focus on the case study settlement site of Emporio on the island of Chios.

The study employs data from domestic and sanctuary contexts at Emporio and its environs to explore how the religious landscape of the settlement is constituted. It engages with recent scholarship on theories of ritual behaviour, interaction, agency and materiality to reconsider accepted interpretations and models and to develop new understandings. It considers how investigation at the local level contributes to broader debates about Early Iron Age religion.

Harriet Donnelly

Harriet Donnelly
Supervisor: Professor Roland Fletcher

Reuse and Transformation in Western and Central European Urbanism 500 - 1000 AD
The period following the demise of the Roman Empire in Western and Central Europe has come to be known as the Dark Ages; a time characterised by decline in the social, economic and political conditions of Europe. The decline and abandonment of Roman towns has been well documented both where abandonment is followed by repopulation such as Londinium and Canterbury, as well as permanent abandonment such as Iruña-Veleia in Hispania. This phenomenon is important in our understanding of the shift in urban practices and development from Roman to post-Roman. However, the period between 500 and 1000 AD was also a period of intense change with shifting power and the expansion of the Viking and Islamic worlds into Western Europe. New urban power centres emerged such as Metz, Paris and Reims in France and Toledo and Cordoba in Spain, which facilitated the development of new trade networks and the communication of knowledge and religion. The introduction of the Islamic urban layout has frequently been excluded from discussions of urban development in this period which have tended towards a central Mediterranean or Northern European focus. However, the Islamic towns of the Iberian Peninsula became a significant part of a new Western European network. That network is to be analysed in terms of a north-south gradient in regards to initial breakdown, reuse and transformation of the urban space. There are three processes within the phenomenon of breakdown and reformation; the decline of old Roman towns, the redevelopment of other Roman sites and the establishment of new towns. Traditional urban markers such as population, density and areal extent as well as changes in function are vital in mapping and understanding how Europe and its new developing cultures and powers remade itself in the context of the declining urban network of the Roman Empire.

Amanda Dusting
Supervisor: Professor Daniel T. Potts
Associate Supervisor: Dr Javier Alvarez-Mon

Columns, Merlons and Parapets: The architecture of Achaemenid Qaleh Kali
The architectural remains if the “way station” or “royal pavilion” at Qaleh Kali in Fars province Iran was excavated from 2007 – 2009 by a joint Iranian Centre for Archaeological Research (ICAR) and the University of Sydney Mamasani Archaeological Project, and forms the basis of my thesis. A small proportion of the structure has been excavated and I am focussing on the architectural elements recovered such as; carved bell shaped column bases in the ‘court style,” merlons and parapets, stairs and jointing clamps and site stratigraphy.

Denis Gojak

Denis Gojak
Supervisor: Dr Martin Gibbs
Associate Supervisor: Dr Annie Clarke

Secret visitors to Australia: the disciplinary response to pseudoarchaeological claims
I document and analyse the widespread popular belief that Australia was discovered by secret visitors - other maritime nations prior to the Dutch in 1606. This has been a long-standing vernacular belief despite being contrary to archaeological and historical orthodoxy. Claims for such contacts are often supported by evidence such as misinterpreted natural and human environmental phenomena, skewed readings of historical texts and pseudoarchaeological evidence. The belief in secret visitors remains current in different forms, ranging from the plausible - Spanish shipwrecks on the Queensland coast to preposterous - Egyptian burial chambers near Sydney - to explicit appropriation of arguments to push political ideologies, e.g. multi-migration models of Aboriginal origins favoured by rightwing groups. With the rise of the internet dissemination of such beliefs has increased and many older claims have also been rejuvenated. Managing and responding to these claims is often an onerous and controversial task for public sector heritage managers and archaeologists throughout Australia.

The thesis addresses how professional archaeology and history have dealt with this challenge over two centuries in order to [a] understand the reasons for the belief in secret visitors and its longevity, [b] critically evaluate the evidence put forward to support the claims and [c] identify potential strategies to improve public understanding of archaeology and to enhance critical understanding of the historical past.

For further information please visit the Secret Visitors Project blog

Taryn Gooley
Supervisors: Prof Meg Miller and Dr Craig Barker

Cypriot Trade During the Classical Period
The geographical location of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean meant that the island had a significant role in Mediterranean trade in all periods. The island was a convenient stepping-stone for traders travelling to various parts of the Mediterranean during ancient times. Despite this, relatively little has been done in the way of researching the importance Cyprus held during the Classical period in regards to trade.

This Masters thesis examines the lacuna present in our knowledge of ‘Classical trade and Cyprus’ and will attempt to bridge it where possible. Most scholarship on Cypriot trade (or role of Cyprus in maritime trade) has to date focused on the Bronze and the Early Iron Ages or the later periods in history after Roman occupation. The Classical period (c.475- c. 325 BC) however, has received considerably less attention.

This study attempts to utilise the imported wares, particularly transport amphorae, discovered at sites within Cyprus to conduct a distribution analysis as a vehicle for establishing the workings of Classical trade and the role of Cyprus. Questions to be explored include whether chronological patterns are discernable and whether there is a noticeable difference between various regions of the island in relation to the origins of amphorae.

Justin Hewitt

Justin Hewitt
Supervisor: Dr Annie Clarke
Associate Supervisor: Dr Martin Gibbs

Understanding Authenticity: The role of tradition design in contemporary heritage management
In a built context, architectural and conservation doctrines of the nineteenth and twentieth century have shaped the way we understand, practice and manage heritage. They have also clearly defined the way in which we interpret the authenticity of heritage, to understand what is real, and what is not.
The principle of this theory is that any intervention to a building must appear contemporary to ensure historical authenticity. The same theory has also broadly evolved to mean that no historical or traditional styles of architecture can be copied, thus ensuring an identifiable and unmistakable period of modern design.
However, historical designs have often been used as a way to manage heritage and continue tradition. Many buildings listed on heritage registers are themselves derived from traditional designs. Yet the practice today is considered to be a falsification of history. So, at what point then did the authentic become unauthentic?
This study will use the practice of traditional design as a case study to examine the meaning and relevance of authenticity in heritage management. The presentation will also evaluate the social response to traditional design, how the public view heritage through design and to what extent authenticity is really valued.

Annika Korsgaard

Annika Korsgaard (PhD)
Supervisor: Dr Martin Gibbs
Associate Supervisor: Dr Annie Clarke

The Archaeology of Colonialism: State, Church, and Industry in the Solomon Islands, 1893-1942.
My dissertation examines how British colonialism was physically articulated on the Solomon Islands landscape through the colonial institutions of missions, plantations and British governance in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I am investigating the British Solomon Islands Protectorate (BSIP) capital on Tulagi Island, and Catholic and Anglican missions, and commercial copra plantations, on northern Guadalcanal. My aim is to characterise the materiality of these institutions and investigate how the material culture of each system was representative of broader British colonial processes. The pre-WWII cultural landscape is highly significant to understanding how the Solomon Islands underwent the colonising process with so few Europeans present in the region.

I am conducting this investigation from a regional perspective. I am using a combination of Trimble and base station GPS survey, and documentary archaeology, to determine site placements and planning, natural landscape manipulation, architectural styles and building materials, and Indigenous resettlement patterns, to determine the degree to which the landscape was politicised and racially hierarchical. To date, no-one has examined the combined archaeological signatures of state, church and industry in the South Pacific. This research will greatly benefit historical and colonial archaeology in the region, as it will serve as a spring board for comparative colonial studies.
Academia profile

Hannah Li

Hannah Li (PhD)
Supervisor: Professor Roland Fletcher
Associate Supervisor: Dr Alison Betts

The Tools of State: The Evolution of the Chinese Scholar's Toolkit
The central role of the scholarly elite within political and social spheres in early dynastic China is widely recognized and their writing tools are crucial as both symbols of power and as the practical instruments with which the agendas of the state were carried out. Traditional studies, however, has revealed a tendency to seek a single point of ancestry for these writing tools and, by extension, adopt a linear perspective of the development of not only the material but also that of early Chinese states. This research examines the evolution of the “Scholar’s Desk” assemblage from the Shang to the end of the Han dynasty with a focus on broad geographical and inter-dynastic patterns of interconnection and regional diversity in order to reassess the traditional centrist and linear view of early Chinese state development.

Peta Longhurst

Peta Longhurst
Supervisor: Dr Anne (Annie) Clarke
Associate Supervisor: Dr Peter Hobbins

Materiality and Ideology at North Head Quarantine Station: The archaeology of maritime quarantine
My research is concerned with the ways in which disease has been materialised at sites of human quarantine. Within the context of public health it is places, rather than just people, that are diagnosed as infected. The nineteenth and twentieth centuries saw earlier ideas about disease transmission such as miasma give way to modern germ theory. This study will consider the extent to which these shifting ideas of public health and contagion were enacted within sites of maritime quarantine. This will be achieved through an archaeological study of the built environment of the North Head Quarantine Station in Sydney, Australia. Comparisons will also be made to related sites such as Angel Island in San Francisco. This research forms part of the University of Sydney’s multidisciplinary Quarantine Project.

Alexandra Lucas
Supervisor: Professor Roland Fletcher
Associate Supervisor: Dr Li Baoping

Chinese trade during the Tang and Five dynasties period:
Chinese trade wares in South and Southeast Asia

This thesis will examine China’s participation in the South and Southeast Asian trade networks during the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE) and Five dynasties period (907-960 CE). The Tang dynasty was the period when China first started to export wares on a large scale, and Tang trade wares have been found in many land and maritime sites across South and Southeast Asia. Whether China physically participated in these trade networks during these dynasties is speculative, there is a dearth in information about Chinese trade with South and Southeast Asia prior to the Yuan and Ming dynasties. Information is minimal and scattered widely; authors more frequently focus trade between China, the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

This research will consolidate and contextualize information on past and recent finds of Chinese wares in South and Southeast Asia. GIS will be used to systematically map current finds and trade routes for comparison with present theories and historic accounts of trade. The findings will be used to determine the level of China’s involvement in trade; and which cultures actively participated in the trade of Chinese wares to South and Southeast Asia from 618 to 960 CE.

Kristen Mann

Kristen Mann
Supervisor: Dr Lesley Beaumont
Associate Supervisor: Professor Margaret Miller

Social living: A methodological consideration of Early Iron Age households, settlement organisation and archaeological interpretation, a
case study of Zagora on Andros

My doctoral research investigates household material, distribution patterns and spatial arrangements at the EIA site of Zagora on Andros. It aims to examine activity patterning, spatial use and household life cycles in order to investigate social organisation at the settlement. It also investigates the extent to which we can use inherited datasets to answer current research questions, and how best we can manage various issues (such as deposition/post depositional processes, and the original sampling and recording methods employed) that affect our ability to draw social inference from excavated household data in a manner that is both constructive and accountable.

Alba Mazza

Alba Mazza
Supervisor: Dr Ted Robinson
Associate Supervisor: Dr Martin Gibbs

Maritime and coastal archaeological landscape of Sicily-Italy. Understanding the Sea-human-landscape relationships through the study of the ancient maritime and coastal landscape
The maritime and coastal archaeological landscape is one of the major representations of the sea-human relationship in the past. Despite this importance, very little investigation was devoted to understand ancient coastal and maritime landscape of very well known Greek and Roman cities in Sicily like Selinus, Lipari, Naxos, Himera. For example we ignore their harbour location, whether they have a commercial/military dedicated sea-space as well as the infrastructures related to the waterfront. As the maritime and coastal landscape is unknown, this give the impression that these cities were never connected with the sea.

The goal of my research is to fill this gaps by studying the coastal archaeological landscape of selected Sicilian key sites within an holistic approach. I will undertake a multidisciplinary investigation focused on palaeolandscape reconstruction combining archaeological, geomorphological, historical data to investigate nature, origin, evolution and present situation of coastal and submerged archaeological sites in Sicily. When my research will be completed I will have a more complete and realistic understanding of the topography of ancient cities in Sicily, and how those are connected with the sea; I will be able to understand past maritime and coastal landscape more realistic than before and finally draft conclusion on environmental/climate changes in the Sicilian coastal landscape over time. The project is in collaboration with Soprintendenza del Mare, Sicily
For more info,

Iona Kat McRae
Supervisor: Professor D.T. Potts
Associate Supervisor: Dr Javier Álvarez-Món

Achaemenid and Post Achaemenid pottery from Qaleh Kali, Iran
The archaeology of Achaemenid Iran is profoundly influenced by the excavations of the Royal capitals; Susa, Persepolis and Pasargadae. While these sites provide detailed evidence regarding aspects of monumental (palatial) architecture and sculpture, there are comparatively few studies concerning the chronology and technology of Achaemenid ceramics as documented by these, or other, sites. Achaemenid era pottery is poorly represented, not only in the heartland of the Persian empire, but throughout Iran, and clear ceramic horizons for the early, late and post Achaemenid have yet to be defined.
The recent (2007-2009) excavations at Qaleh Kali (Tappeh Servan, Jinjun, MS [Mamasani Survey] 46) provide a well-stratified sequence of Achaemenid, and post Achaemenid occupation spanning the period of c. 500 – 50 BC. Using the ceramic evidence from Qaleh Kali it is possible to examine this transition in the local Fars district, with the intention of understanding the socio-economic landscape of southwest Iran during this crucial juncture in Iranian history; and to provide a systematic typological and archaeometric analysis of Achaemenid ceramics for the wider region of southwestern Iran.

Jennifer Migliore
Supervisor: Professor Margaret Miller
Associate Supervisor: Dr Richard Miles

Cosmological Mosaics and Identity in Late Antiquity
Cosmological motifs seem to become particularly popular in mosaic, wall painting and relief throughout the Roman Empire in late antiquity. This period is one of great change throughout the Roman world, and one in which communal, religious and cultural identities were evolving, as has been the subject of much recent scholarship. My purpose in this thesis is to examine the relationship between several important late antique communal identities and the cosmological iconographic mosaics that enjoyed popularity in the western provinces between the third and fourth centuries CE, and in Palestinian Jewish communities, between the fourth and sixth centuries CE. The specific iconography with which I am concerned includes the motifs of the sun and the signs of the zodiac, and the personifications of these in the Classical artistic tradition. Accordingly then, this thesis has two parts: a historical analysis, which also incorporates a methodological discussion of how we should approach the issue of identity in late antiquity; and an investigation of the art-historical and archaeological elements of the topic. In order to limit the scope of this topic, which could all too easily become unwieldy, the corpus of cosmological iconographic mosaics examined will not be exhaustive, and items will instead be selected according to their representativeness in terms of historical/identity issues and/or the art-historical/archaeological aspects of our investigation.

Michelle Negus Cleary

Michelle Negus Cleary
Supervisor: Prof. Alison V.G. Betts

Walled sites of the ancient oasis of Chorasmia, 7th/6th century BCE – 4th century CE: a landscape approach
The late Iron Age fortified sites of western Uzbekistan are major features of the archaeological landscape of ancient Chorasmia, a polity located in a zone of interaction between the Achaemenid and steppe worlds. These walled enclosures were interpreted as the urban centres and military installations of a presumed hydraulic state by Soviet archaeologists. This thesis presents a study of the ancient Chorasmian landscape in order to better understand the role of these monuments in the settlement regime, their significance as ‘places’, and a clearer idea of how the ancient landscape was shaped and inhabited. Although many of the enclosure sites are large in size, there is little archaeological evidence that they were used a permanent settlements, and perhaps represent a different manifestation of urbanism, that may be regionally specific in Eurasia. This study employs new ways of ‘engaging’ with ancient military architecture, and utilizes landscape archaeological methods to investigate urbanism and settlement practices at the key site of Akchakhan-kala and its surrounding region. It explores the various ways in which the ancient landscape imbued power (territory and status), communicated meaning (tenure, symbolism, social memory) and shaped lifeways (occupation, production, reproduction).

Claire Reeler
Supervisor: Prof Alison Betts

Changing settlement patterns through time on the island of Bahrain, as expressed through a study of the lithics
My project concerns a spatial archaeological study of settlement patterns through time on the island of Bahrain. I chose to approach this from a study of the lithics, as the lithics of Bahrain had never been analysed in detail and lithics provide a way of identifying sites with particular technologies. At the inception of the project I discovered that there was no current map of archaeological sites on the island of Bahrain and so part of my project has been to provide a comprehensive map of archaeological sites on the island of Bahrain with associated data. These sites range in age from the early Holocene (and possibly late Pleistocene) to the historic period. The maps and data are stored in the Heurist database created for this project and Quantum GIS software was also used for the analysis. This data will be provided as a resource for researchers at the conclusion of this project.

In addition to locations determined from a wide range of published and unpublished literature, most of the sites have been ground-verified. A survey was conducted of the central south-eastern part of the island as part of this project and the lithic material from Bahrain stored in Moesgaard Museum in Denmark has also been analysed. This project not only provides new insights into understanding changing settlement patterns through time on the island of Bahrain, but also contributes the most comprehensive map of archaeological sites and associated information ever produced. Thus our understanding of the archaeology of Bahrain is increased by this study, and valuable resources are provided to assist other researchers in the area.

Ana Silkatcheva

Ana Silkatcheva
Supervisor: Dr Ted Robinson
Associate Supervisor: Dr Kate da Costa

Mosaics in North-west Jordan: Iconology and Workshop Movements
While the mosaics of Jordan were last published twenty years ago, a great number of new discoveries have been made, predominately in the north-west of the modern country. Numbering some ninety pavements, the current collection of northern Jordanian mosaics may be dated to a tight window of approximately 160 years in the late Byzantine/early Umayyad period, with the majority occupying a religious (Christian) context. This thesis is the first work to synthesise these new discoveries and to subject them to analysis.

An examination of the figural and non-abstract motifs has suggested that the religious community here had aniconic inclinations and a more spiritual focus, in contrast to the preferences for a Classical repertoire found in Madaba, the renowned “city of mosaics”, towards the south.

Coding and subsequent statistical analysis of geometric motifs has revealed two major workshops based in north-west Jordan, and it has been possible to trace their movements across the region with the assistance of dated mosaic inscriptions.

This study has resulted in further insights not only into the community that inhabited the immediate region, but also into the manner of the transmission of motifs – and therefore, of ideas – across the Byzantine East.

Alix Thoeming

Alix Thoeming
Supervisor: Professor Roland Fletcher

Birka to the Black Sea: Urban Trajectories in Northern and Eastern Europe
Up until the turn of the first millennium, there have been very few known settlements in Northern and Eastern Europe interpreted as decisively 'urban'. Urban growth in these areas seems to coincide with the growth and expansion of Scandinavian trade routes, most notably in the south-easterly direction of Byzantium and the Caspian. Characterisations of these sites, however, have generally occurred on an individual or regional scale rather than as a whole. While largely consisting of similar characteristics and circumstances, these settlements met different ends; some were abandoned, some superseded, and some persist to this day. This study proposes to use a multiscalar and multivariate approach to determine the reasons for the multiple trajectories of these sites, incorporating various theoretical frameworks as well as others drawn from alternate disciplines.


Steven Vasilakis

Steven Vasilakis (PhD)
Supervisor: Dr Lesley Beaumont
Associate Supervisor: Dr Martin Gibbs

An Archaeological Approach from the Sea: A Seaman’s Perspective of the Maritime Cultural Landscape/Seascape in the Prehistoric and Protohistoric Eastern Aegean
From a Postmodern/Postcolonial perspective, it would be fair to say that over the last few decades there has been a substantial increase in interdisciplinary studies conducted in the Aegean and wider Mediterranean. Following global trends, the sea, as a socio-cultural actor, has entered traditional lines of enquiry otherwise reserved for a Classical and Near Eastern audience. For instance, the Braudelian (and Post-Braudelian) approach to contextualise the longue durée of human maritime endeavour into diverse micro-ecologies has provided a conceptual shift from a Mediterranean dominated by narratives of historical events to a sea of socio-cultural activity.

This research looks at how an archaeological approach from the sea can provide another way of seeing, interpreting, and constructing alternative narratives specific to the social reproduction of ancient maritime culture. The study aims to incorporate anthropological reflections on the archaeology of the eastern Aegean to explore the people’s sense of place and identify specific space-related perceptions that are deeply embedded in the phenomenology of the sea. This study is underpinned by a maritime cultural landscape approach, a theoretical concept widely used in Scandinavia, Britain, and the Asia-Pacific, but yet to be adequately applied to maritime cultural studies in the Aegean and wider Mediterranean.

Amy Mosig Way

Amy Mosig Way (PhD)
Supervisor: Professor Peter Hiscock

The prehistory of Lake George
My project forms part of an ARC Linkage grant titled 'Landscape evolution, environmental change and human occupation history of Lake George – an outstanding natural archive'. The aim of the project is to examine both the human occupation and environmental prehistory of Lake George.

The Lake George environment is unique in Australia, as a massive, resource rich, upland freshwater lake that has been environmentally varied over both the short and long-terms. There is a significant, and as yet unanswered question about the nature of prehistoric foraging in such a landscape within Australia.

My thesis seeks to characterise a regional sequence of occupation in the Lake George region. To do so, I plan to excavate several sites within the Lake George basin to examine spatial and temporal changes in foraging technologies throughout the occupation period. I aim to contribute to current archaeological debates regarding the nature and role of technology in landscape exploitation and the sequence and timing of technological changes in south eastern Australia. Additionally I plan to contribute to the debate regarding the degree of association or disjunction between environmental and technological changes.

Karyn Wesselingh
Supervisor : Professor Alison V.G. Betts
Associate Supervisor: Dr Stephen Bourke

The Hellenisation of the Near East – a zooarchaeological case study from Jordan and Syria
The effects on everyday life of Hellenisation in this region, reflected in the diet has, to date, been poorly studied. This is the result destruction of much of the material by subsequent civilizations and the lack of emphasis on environmental studies up until the 1960’s.

The purpose of this study is to use faunal remains from Pella, Jordan and Jebel Khalid, Syria to look at changes in everyday life in the region. The site of Jebel Khalid is a rare example of a single period site, which has not been damaged by Roman occupation. It is large and complex and comprises a number of areas of differing functions allowing for some intra-site comparisons.

Pella, Jordan was occupied in the period prior to the Hellenistic hence it is possible to examine changes in animal management and consumption in the wake of Hellenisation. Late Iron Age and Roman material has also been studied from this site, in addition to the Hellenistic remains.

Jennifer Wright
Supervisor: Dr Lesley Beaumont
Associate Supervisor: Prof Margaret Miller

Greek Textiles from the Archaic to the Classical Period
Textiles have a number of different functions-clothing, furnishings (such as wall hangings, floor coverings and bed coverings), funerary use (such as a shroud for the corpse or alternatively a wrapping for cremated bones) and offerings to the gods. It is therefore somewhat surprising that the scholarship, both ancient and modern, on ancient Greek textiles has been scarce and scattered. Whilst there has been increased interest in the last twenty or so years, not only in textiles per se but also in their manufacturing, including experiments in the use of loom weights and spindle whorls, this has been scattered among various fields of expertise and perhaps not adequately disseminated or alternatively not noticed by the wider archaeological world. My aim is to take an holistic approach to collect and collate this information in order to consider the following questions:

  1. what types of plant and animal fibres, their association with man and the consequences of that association, were used in this time period in the production of textiles?
  2. how were these fibres used – this will require examination of the production line from raw fibre to finished product.
  3. what conclusions, if any, can be drawn by the application of such a multifaceted approach?