NEAF Board

Dr Wendy Reade (President)

Dr Wendy Reade

Teaching and research interests: Dr Reade has degrees in Archaeology and Conservation of Cultural Materials. She has published widely on her research interests in early glass, and in conservation. She is an Honorary Associate in the Department of Archaeology, having taught at the University for fourteen years. She is currently employed by the Sydney University Museums (SUM) as an archaeological conservator and has wide experience working on excavations in Greece and the Balkans, Turkey, Egypt, and the Middle East, including Bahrain, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Syria. She has also worked at the UNESCO-listed Kuthodaw Pagoda in Mandalay, Myanmar as consultant conservator on a University of Sydney project. In 2017 she was awarded the inaugural Mid-Career Scholarship from ADFAS and the AICCM for her conservation and reconstruction of a fresco-painted pavement from Amarna, Egpyt, in the SUM collection.


Dr Stephen Bourke (Treasurer)

Dr Stephen Bourke

Teaching and research interests: Stephen is a Near Eastern archaeologist and has worked on numerous international archaeological projects since 1980. He currently directs Sydney University excavations at Pella in Jordan, and has done so since 1992. The most recent field season occurred in early 2015. Previously he led four seasons of renewed excavations at Chalcolithic Teleilat Ghassul, Jordan, between 1994-99. His interests centre on the Neolithic beginnings of urban life through to the end of the pre-Classical Iron Age in the Levant (ca. 6500-300 BC). He has written or contributed to over 80 publications. Current research projects include work arising out of ongoing excavations at Pella, mainly centring on the massive Fortress temple complex, under excavation since 1994. He is completing a monograph on Sydney University work at Chalcolithic Teleilat Ghassul and working on another based on his Doctoral work on British excavations at Tell Nebi Mend, ancient Qadesh on the Orontes. Connected with this earlier work, he is now researching the Second Millennium BC settlement history of the Homs region for the University of Durham's central Syrian Homs regional Survey. Stephen is NEAF's Treasurer.


Dr Paul Donnelly (Vice President)

Dr Paul Donnelly

Teaching and research interests: Since 2016 Dr Paul Donnelly has been Associate Director of Content at the University of Sydney Museums where they are working towards bringing together the University collections into a new institution – The Chau Chak Wing Museum. Funded by private philanthropy and the University of Sydney, this new museum will provide an unprecedented profile for the Nicholson, Macleay and Art collections for both teaching and a broader public audience. Prior to this role Paul was a curator in the decorative arts and design department at the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences (MAAS / Powerhouse Museum).

Paul graduated with a BA (Hons) in archaeology from the University of Sydney, an MA in Public History from the University of Technology, Sydney, and a PhD from the University of Sydney focusing on Chocolate-on-White ware pottery from the Middle to Late Bronze-Age southern Levant. Since 1988 Paul has been a member of the Sydney University Expedition to Pella in Jordan and in 2012 he involved the Powerhouse in the revived and on-going Zagora excavations on Andros. Paul is also an Honorary Research Associate of the Department of Archaeology and a Governor of the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens.


Dr John Tidmarsh

Dr John Tidmarsh

Teaching and research interests: John Tidmarsh is an Endocrinologist in Private Practice and Visiting Endocrinologist at Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital. He was previously Tutor and then Part-Time Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sydney and is currently Honorary Associate in the Department of Classics and Ancient History. He is a Co-Director of the University of Sydney’s excavations at Pella in Jordan and Co-Director of the ANU/University of Melbourne excavations at Jebel Khalid in Syria. He has previously excavated in Greece and Cyprus. His main areas of interest are the archaeology of Alexander the Great’s conquests and the Hellenistic Period in the Near East and Asia and it was in this area that he was awarded his PhD. He has led numerous tours for the University of Sydney’s Centre for Continuing Education, the Art Gallery of NSW, Academy Travel and Alumni Travel to Iran, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, and other destinations in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East.


Prof. Alison V.G. Betts

Prof. Alison V.G. Betts

Teaching and research interests: I am interested in the archaeology and history of nomadic peoples. This research theme has led me down a wide variety of paths including the prehistory of the North Arabian steppe, rock art, hunting traps and water harvesting systems, the origins of nomadic pastoralism in the Near East, nomad-state relations, the Bronze Age of Central Asia and the early development of the Zoroastrian faith.


Ben Churcher

Ben Churcher

Teaching and research interests: Ben Churcher is a life member of NEAF, the editor of the Bulletin of the Near Eastern Archaeology Foundation and a NEAF tour leader. Ben's involvement with NEAF coincided with his participation at the University of Sydney's excavations at Pella in Jordan where he presently holds the position of Field Director. Ben's duties at Pella began in 1983 and include excavation, photography and on-site administration. From the early 1990s Ben has been both the editor of NEAF's Bulletin and a tour leader who has taken NEAF members to destinations as diverse as China, Mexico, Morocco, Mali, Iran, Greece, Turkey, Syria and Jordan. As well as his involvement with the Pella project and NEAF, Ben is the director of Astarte Resources (www.astarte.com.au), a company that produces and distributes educational resources primarily focusing on history and archaeology. Additionally, Ben is involved with cultural heritage management in Australia and has participated on many Indigenous heritage surveys and excavations. Ben also works in desk-top publishing; preparing publications emanating from the Pella Project and other Australian archaeological projects working in the Near East. Ben enjoys travel to remote corners of the world, is fascinated by all aspects of history and is particularly interested in Islamic culture.


Dr Ross Burns

Dr Ross Burns

Teaching and research interests: Ross was a career officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs for 37 years. In that time he had a range of overseas postings and served as Ambassador to several Middle Eastern countries.

Since his retirement in 2003, Ross retains a keen interest in all aspects of the Middle East, not least its history and archaeology: the subjects that first drew his attention to the region at Sydney University in the early 1960s where he combined archaeology (Near Eastern) with history. He recently completed a doctorate at Macquarie University and has published two books on the history and monuments of Syria (Monuments of Syria, I B Tauris, London, third edition 2009; and on Damascus: Damascus; A History, Routledge, London 2005). He hopes to publish soon his thesis as a book and to follow up his earlier works with companion volumes on Lebanon and a history of Aleppo. His website www.monumentsofsyria.com contains a rich store of photos of archaeological sites in Syria.


Jamie Fraser

Jamie Fraser

Jamie Fraser is Senior Curator at the Nicholson Museum. Jamie first entered the museum world as an artefact registrar at the National Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul (2013-14). After completing his PhD in Middle Eastern archaeology in early 2015, Jamie became Project Curator for the Ancient Levant at the British Museum. He joined the Nicholson Museum as Senior Curator in 2017.

Jamie has worked on archaeological projects in Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kashmir, Greece, Cambodia, Australia and the Solomon Islands. He currently directs the Khirbet Ghozlan Excavation Project in north Jordan, investigating the production of olive oil around 2000 BCE.


Maree Browne

Maree Browne

Teaching and research interests: Maree is past president of NEAF and has been on the Council since its inception. She studied Archaeology at the University of Sydney and has worked on a number of sites, principally at the University of Sydney’s site at Pella in Jordan. In the past her main area of research was in the archaeology of the ancient environment and its effect on the disease patterns in the ancient populations, particularly Egypt. This research into the environment has led to a great interest in water usage and gardens through time. She lectures in The History of Landscape Architecture in the Faculty of the Built Environment at the University of NSW.


Dr Kate da Costa

Dr Kate da Costa

Teaching and research interests: After completing her doctorate in Byzantine and Umayyad lamps from the Southern Levant, Kate held an ARC research fellowship and grant from 2006 – 2010 to study the Roman Borders of Arabia and Palaestina (BAP), involving field work in northwest Jordan. This followed from undergraduate and doctoral interests working at Pella (University of Sydney), Umm Qais (various German projects) and Deir Ain Abata (British Museum). Kate has taught undergraduate courses at the University of Sydney, and co-taught at Macquarie University, since 2006. She has a longstanding interest in the relationship of indigenous cultures with foreign political controllers. She established the Australian Desk at the Jordan Museum in 2010/11, working with colleagues from the Museum on a study of Jordanian attitudes to archaeological heritage.


Dr Peta Seaton

Dr Peta Seaton

Teaching and research interests: As a student of Professor Basil Hennessy in the late 1970s and working at Pella and Teleilat Ghassul in Jordan, Peta Seaton has maintained a long standing interest Near Eastern archaeology and research. She runs her own strategic policy and business consultancy drawing on her background in government, as a former Member of Parliament, and in advertising and media. She is the Chair of Australian Hearing, and has been a non-executive director of the Bradman Foundation and CARE Australia. She continues her archaeological research on the Chalcolithic period with current fieldwork at Pella in Jordan.


Michele Cotton

Michele Cotton

Teaching and research interests: Michele is a qualified veterinary practitioner, with a Masters degree in Veterinary Public Health Management and Diploma in International Animal Health. Michele has been employed within the University of Sydney intermittently since 1977 in lecturing and demonstrating veterinary pathology and parasitology. She is a presenter at scientific conferences for the veterinary profession with growing emphasis on animal health as it affects human health. Michele has experience on various boards, including NEAF since 2003, and brings a diverse management contribution to the Foundation. Current research interests include surveying the health and welfare of Bedouin herd animals, sheep, camels and goats, as well as the human/wildlife interface of Wadi Rum.


Sandra Parker

Sandra Parker

Teaching and research interests: Sandra (Sandy) recently retired from a family company where she worked as an accountant for 47 years. Sandy has had a keen interest in history and archaeology since school in Queensland. Since then she has joined NEAF on our study tours over the past 20 years and has volunteered at Pella in Jordan for several seasons. Sandy has travelled extensively through Europe, the Near East and Central Asia since 1998. Her early life in Queensland was heavily involved in sport where she represented Qld and Australia in swimming and equestrian events.


Amanpreet Kang

Aman Kang

Aman is an Archaeology Honours student researching hominid cognition with a focus on the ornaments of Palaeolithic Europe. She is President of the Archaeology Society at the University of Sydney and Chairman of the National Archaeology Student Conference (NASC) to be hosted in Sydney in August, 2018. These roles reflect her enthusiasm to increase the involvement of the student body with the wider archaeological community, both nationally and internationally. Aman has also participated in Palaeolithic excavations in Germany and the Czech Republic, including both open-air sites and caves. She also works as a casual archaeologist in Australian Historical Archaeology.