Professor Alison Betts

MA PhD London, FAHA
Professor of Silk Road Studies

Member of China Studies Centre

A18 - Brennan MacCallum Building
The University of Sydney

Telephone +61 2 9351 2090
Fax +61 2 9351 3918
Website > Phonebook Entry
> The University of Sydney Central Asian Programme

Biographical details

I specialize in the archaeology of the lands along the Silk Roads from the Near East to China. My key interests lie in the study of nomadic peoples. I have worked extensively in eastern Jordan and Central Asia, and currently run major field projects in Uzbekistan and Xinjiang, both of which have been generously supported by ARC Discovery grants. I am also working closely with the Kabul Museum in Afghanistan and have research affiliations in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Kashmir.

Research interests

  • Archaeology of ancient Khorezm
  • Early development of the Zoroastrian faith
  • Nomad-state relations
  • Bronze Age of Central Asia and western China
  • Cultural transmissions from Eurasia into China
  • Prehistory of the North Arabian steppe
  • Rock art
  • Hunting traps and water harvesting systems
  • Origins of nomadic pastoralism in the Near East

Current research students

Project title Research student
Mapping ancestors worship places created and used in the Upper Mesopotamian territories from Prehistory to the Late Bronze Age Agata Calabrese CALABRESE

In the media

PhD and master's project opportunities

Selected grants

2017

  • Shifting the Foundations of Zoroastrian History: a fresh focus on Khorezm; Betts A, Grenet F, Minardi M, Karlibaev M; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).

2015

  • The Silk Roads in the Bronze Age: critical links between Eurasia and China; Betts A, Vicziany M, Di Castro A, Dodson J, Cong D, Li X, Salzman P; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).

2014

  • The prehistory of Xinjiang, W China; Betts A; DVC Research/Bridging Support Grant.

2013

  • Kingship, Art and Cult Practice: decoding symbolism in an ancient Central Asian Royal City; Grenet F, Betts A, Yagodin V; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).

2012

  • Central Asia in Antiquity; Betts A, Vicziany M, Wang W, Dodson J, Li X, Bar-Yosef O, Stammler F, Mallory J; DVC Research/Bridging Support Grant.

2008

  • A study of a newly discovered corpus of early Central Asian wall paintings; Yagodin V, Betts A, Kidd F; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).

2007

  • East meets West: an archaeological study of early contact between China and Eurasia; Betts A, Wu Y, Wu X; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).

2006

  • East and West: nomadic migrations between Eurasia and China; Betts A; University of Sydney/Research & Development.
  • Post- War reconstruction; A study of lost Buddhist treasures from the Kabul Museum; Betts A; Joukowsky Family Foundation (USA)/Grants Program.

2005

  • Chorasmian temples: an archaeological study if early Zorastrianism and its precursors in central asia; Betts A, Yagodin V; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).

2002

  • Generic Account Code for travel under ANSTO Australian Synchrotron Research Program_Mr Paul Donnelly (postgraduate student); Betts A; Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation/Australian Synchrotron Research Program.

2001

  • Beduin land use in the Syrian steppe: An ethno-archaeological study; Betts A; DVC Research/Research and Development Scheme: Research and Development (R&D).

2000

  • The early State in ancient Chorasimia: 7th century BC to 7th century AD; Betts A; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Large Research Grants (LRG).
  • A study of ancient central asian military architecture in chorasmia from the 6th century bc to the 4th century ad; Betts A; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Small Grants.

Selected publications

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Books

  • Betts, A., Cropper, D., Martin, L., McCartney, C. (2013). The Later Prehistory of the Badia: Excavations and Surveys in Eastern Jordan. Oxford, UK: Oxbow Books.
  • Khozhaniyazou, G., Helms, S., Betts, A. (2006). The Military Architecture of Ancient Chorasmia. Paris: de Boccard.

Edited Books

  • Betts, A., Kidd, F. (2015). Buddhist Iconography of Northern Bactria. New Delhi: Manohar Publications.

Book Chapters

  • Betts, A. (2014). The Southern Levant (Transjordan) during the Neolithic Period. In Margreet L. Steiner, Ann E. Killebrew (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Levant: c. 8000-332 BCE, (pp. 170-182). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. [More Information]
  • Betts, A., Tarawneh, M. (2010). Changing Patterns of Land Use and Subsistence in the Badiyat al-Sham in the Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic Periods: new data from Burqu and Bayir. In Jacqueline Dentzer-Feydy and Michele Vallerin (Eds.), Hauran V: La Syrie du Sud du Neolithique a lAntiquite tardive, (pp. 69-80). Beirut: Presses de lifpo.
  • Betts, A., Yagodin, V. (2009). The Tash-K'irman-Tepe Cult Complex: An Hypothesis for the Establishment of Fire Temples in Ancient Chorasmia. In Parry, Ken (Eds.), Art, Architecture and religion Along the Silk Roads, (pp. 1-19). Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols Publishers. [More Information]
  • Betts, A. (2008). Things To Do With Sheep and Goats: Neolithic Hunter-Forager Herders in North Arabia. In Hans Barnard and Willeke Wendrich (Eds.), The Archaeology of Mobility: Old World and New World Nomadism, (pp. 25-42). California, USA: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press.
  • Betts, A. (2007). The Aralo-Caspian Region. In Antonio Sagona, Claudia Sagona (Eds.), Ancient Nomads of the Aralo-Caspian Region, (pp. 1-10). Belgium: Peeters Publishers.
  • Betts, A., Yagodin, V. (2007). The Fire Temple at Tash-k'irman Tepe, Chorasmia. In Joe Cribb & Georgina Herrmann (Eds.), After Alexander: Central Asia Before Islam, (pp. 435-453). Oxford: Oxford University Press. [More Information]
  • Betts, A. (2006). Chorasmians, Central Asian nomads and Chorasmian military architecture. In Svend Helms (Eds.), The Military Architecture of Ancient Chorasmia, (pp. 131-155). Paris: de Boccard.
  • Betts, A. (2004). Near East: Clay Plastered Skull. In DT Potts and KN Sowada (Eds.), Treasures of the Nicholson Museum. Sydney: Nicholson Museum, University of Sydney.
  • Betts, A. (2001). A Middle Bronze Age Block Mould from Tell Rukeis, Jordan. In Alan Walmsley, Elizabeth Hardy, Katherine Wolrige (Eds.), Australians uncovering ancient Jordan : fifty years of Middle Eastern archaeology : a volume of studies and retrospectives prepared for The Eighth International Conference on the History and Archaeology of Jordan, Sydney University, 9-13 July 2001, (pp. 233-238). Sydney: Research Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Sydney.
  • Betts, A. (2001). Pastoralism. In Russell Adams and Yuval Goren (Eds.), The Archaeology of Jordan, (pp. 615-619). United Kingdom: Academic Press.
  • Betts, A. (2001). The Middle East. In David S Whitley (Eds.), Handbook of Rock Art Research, (pp. 786-823). United States: Academic Press.

Journals

  • Jia, W., Betts, A., Cong, D., Jia, X., Doumani Dupuy, P. (2017). Adunqiaolu: new evidence for the Andronovo in Xinjiang, China. Antiquity, 91(357), 621-639. [More Information]
  • Zhang, J., Lu, H., Jia, W., Flad, R., Wu, N., Betts, A. (2017). Cultivation strategies at the ancient Luanzagangzi settlement on the easternmost Eurasian steppe during the late Bronze Age. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 26(5), 505-512. [More Information]
  • Betts, A. (2017). Exploring the Badia. Near Eastern Archaeology, 80(2), 68-72. [More Information]
  • Brite, E., Kidd, F., Betts, A., Cleary, M. (2017). Millet cultivation in Central Asia: A response to Miller et al. The Holocene, 27(9), 1415-1422. [More Information]
  • Spate, M., Zhang, G., Yatoo, M., Betts, A. (2017). New evidence for early 4th millennium BP agriculture in the Western Himalayas: Qasim Bagh, Kashmir. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 11, 568-577. [More Information]
  • Caspari, G., Betts, A., Jia, W. (2017). The Bronze Age in the Western Tianshan, China: A new model for determining seasonal use of sites. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 14, 12-20. [More Information]
  • Betts, A., Dodson, J., Garbe, U., Bertuch, F., Thorogood, G. (2016). A carved ivory cylinder from Akchakhan-kala, Uzbekistan: Problems of dating and provenance. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 5, 190-196. [More Information]
  • Betts, A., Bonnat, M., Kidd, F., Grenet, F., Khashimov, S., Khodzhanijazov, G. (2015). Des divinités Avestiques sur les peintures murals d’Akchakhan-kala, Ouzbékistan. Comptes-rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, III, 1369-1396.
  • Betts, A., Burke, D. (2015). Desert Kites in Jordan - a new appraisal. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy, 26(2), 74-94. [More Information]
  • Muller-Neuhof, B., Betts, A., Willcox, G. (2015). Jawa, Northeastern Jordan: The First 14C Dates for the Early Occupation Phase. Zeitschrift fur Orient-Archaologie, 8, 124-131.
  • Amirov, S., Betts, A., Yagodin, V. (2015). Mapping ancient hunting installations on the Ustyurt Plateau, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan: new results from remote sensing imagery. Paleorient, 41(1), 199-219.
  • Dodson, J., Betts, A., Amirov, S., Yagodin, V. (2015). The nature of fluctuating lakes in the southern Amu-dar'ya delta. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 437, 63-73. [More Information]
  • Betts, A. (2014). A response to zeder, bar-oz, rufolo and hole (2013). Quaternary International, 338, 125-127. [More Information]
  • Betts, A., Jia, W., Dodson, J. (2014). The origins of wheat in China and potential pathways for its introduction: A review. Quaternary International, 348, 158-168. [More Information]
  • Jia, W., Betts, A., Wu, X. (2011). New evidence for Bronze Age agricultural settlements in the Zhunge'er (Junggar) Basin, China. Journal of Field Archaeology, 36(4), 269-280. [More Information]
  • Betts, A., Jia, W. (2010). A Re-analysis of the Qiemu'erqieke (Shamirshak) Cemeteries, Xinjiang, China. Journal of Indo-European Studies, 38(3 & 4), 275-317.
  • Betts, A., Kidd, F. (2010). Entre le fleuve et la steppe: nouvelles perspectives sur le Khorezm ancien. Comptes-rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, , 637-686.
  • Yagodin, V., Betts, A., Kidd, F., Brite, E., Khozhaniyazou, G., Amirov, S., Yagodin, V., Fray, G. (2010). Karakalpak-Australian Excavations in Ancient Chorasmia. An Interim Report on the Kazakly-yatkan Wall Paintings: the "Portrait" Gallery. Journal of Inner Asian Art and Archaeology, 4, 7-41.
  • Betts, A., Kidd, F. (2010). New directions in silk road archaeology. Archaeologische Mitteilungen aus Iran und Turan. Neue Folge, 42(2010), 1-1.
  • Betts, A., Yagodin, V., Helms, S., Khozhaniyazou, G., Amirov, S., Negus Cleary, M. (2009). Karakalpak-Australian Excavations in Ancient Chorasmia, 2001-2005: Interim Report on the Fortifications of Kazakl'i-yatkan and Regional Survey. Iran: Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies, XLVII, 33-55.
  • Jia, W., Betts, A., Wu, X. (2009). Prehistoric archaeology in the Zhunge'er (Junggar) Basin, Xinjiang, China. Eurasian Prehistory, 6(1-2), 167-198.
  • Kidd, F., Negus Cleary, M., Yagodin, V., Betts, A., Brite, E. (2008). Ancient Chorasmian Mural Art. Bulletin of the Asia Institute, 18, 69-95.
  • Jia, W., Betts, A., Wu, X. (2008). Review of the late prehistoric archaeology in Zhungeer Basin, China. Xinjiangwenwu, (1-2), 35-54.
  • Betts, A. (2003). Qasr Burqu - desert periphery and urban core. Mediterranean Archaeology, 16, 89-97.
  • Helms, S., Yagodin, V., Betts, A., Khozhaniyazou, G., Negus, M. (2002). The Karakalpak-Australian Excavations in Ancient Chorasmia: the Northern Fromtier of the 'Civilised' Ancient World. Ancient Near Eastern Studies, 39, 3-43.
  • Helms, S., Betts, A., Kidd, F., Yagodin, V., Khozhaniyazou, G. (2001). Five Seasons of Excavations in the Tash-K'Irman Oasis of Ancient Chorasmia, 1996-2000. An Interim Report. Iran: Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies, XXXIX, 119-144.

Edited Journals

  • Betts, A., Kidd, F. (2010). New Directions in Silk Road Archaeology: Proceedings of a Workshop held at ICAANE V, Madrid, 2006. Archaeologische Mitteilungen aus Iran und Turan. Neue Folge, 42.

Conferences

  • Betts, A. (2002). Interpretations of Dhuweila Rock Art: Shamanism and Increase Rites. 2nd International Congress on the Archeology of the Ancient Near East (ICAANE), Berlin: Ex Oriente.

2017

  • Jia, W., Betts, A., Cong, D., Jia, X., Doumani Dupuy, P. (2017). Adunqiaolu: new evidence for the Andronovo in Xinjiang, China. Antiquity, 91(357), 621-639. [More Information]
  • Zhang, J., Lu, H., Jia, W., Flad, R., Wu, N., Betts, A. (2017). Cultivation strategies at the ancient Luanzagangzi settlement on the easternmost Eurasian steppe during the late Bronze Age. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 26(5), 505-512. [More Information]
  • Betts, A. (2017). Exploring the Badia. Near Eastern Archaeology, 80(2), 68-72. [More Information]
  • Brite, E., Kidd, F., Betts, A., Cleary, M. (2017). Millet cultivation in Central Asia: A response to Miller et al. The Holocene, 27(9), 1415-1422. [More Information]
  • Spate, M., Zhang, G., Yatoo, M., Betts, A. (2017). New evidence for early 4th millennium BP agriculture in the Western Himalayas: Qasim Bagh, Kashmir. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 11, 568-577. [More Information]
  • Caspari, G., Betts, A., Jia, W. (2017). The Bronze Age in the Western Tianshan, China: A new model for determining seasonal use of sites. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 14, 12-20. [More Information]

2016

  • Betts, A., Dodson, J., Garbe, U., Bertuch, F., Thorogood, G. (2016). A carved ivory cylinder from Akchakhan-kala, Uzbekistan: Problems of dating and provenance. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 5, 190-196. [More Information]

2015

  • Betts, A., Kidd, F. (2015). Buddhist Iconography of Northern Bactria. New Delhi: Manohar Publications.
  • Betts, A., Bonnat, M., Kidd, F., Grenet, F., Khashimov, S., Khodzhanijazov, G. (2015). Des divinités Avestiques sur les peintures murals d’Akchakhan-kala, Ouzbékistan. Comptes-rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, III, 1369-1396.
  • Betts, A., Burke, D. (2015). Desert Kites in Jordan - a new appraisal. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy, 26(2), 74-94. [More Information]
  • Muller-Neuhof, B., Betts, A., Willcox, G. (2015). Jawa, Northeastern Jordan: The First 14C Dates for the Early Occupation Phase. Zeitschrift fur Orient-Archaologie, 8, 124-131.
  • Amirov, S., Betts, A., Yagodin, V. (2015). Mapping ancient hunting installations on the Ustyurt Plateau, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan: new results from remote sensing imagery. Paleorient, 41(1), 199-219.
  • Dodson, J., Betts, A., Amirov, S., Yagodin, V. (2015). The nature of fluctuating lakes in the southern Amu-dar'ya delta. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 437, 63-73. [More Information]

2014

  • Betts, A. (2014). A response to zeder, bar-oz, rufolo and hole (2013). Quaternary International, 338, 125-127. [More Information]
  • Betts, A., Jia, W., Dodson, J. (2014). The origins of wheat in China and potential pathways for its introduction: A review. Quaternary International, 348, 158-168. [More Information]
  • Betts, A. (2014). The Southern Levant (Transjordan) during the Neolithic Period. In Margreet L. Steiner, Ann E. Killebrew (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Levant: c. 8000-332 BCE, (pp. 170-182). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. [More Information]

2013

  • Betts, A., Cropper, D., Martin, L., McCartney, C. (2013). The Later Prehistory of the Badia: Excavations and Surveys in Eastern Jordan. Oxford, UK: Oxbow Books.

2011

  • Jia, W., Betts, A., Wu, X. (2011). New evidence for Bronze Age agricultural settlements in the Zhunge'er (Junggar) Basin, China. Journal of Field Archaeology, 36(4), 269-280. [More Information]

2010

  • Betts, A., Jia, W. (2010). A Re-analysis of the Qiemu'erqieke (Shamirshak) Cemeteries, Xinjiang, China. Journal of Indo-European Studies, 38(3 & 4), 275-317.
  • Betts, A., Tarawneh, M. (2010). Changing Patterns of Land Use and Subsistence in the Badiyat al-Sham in the Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic Periods: new data from Burqu and Bayir. In Jacqueline Dentzer-Feydy and Michele Vallerin (Eds.), Hauran V: La Syrie du Sud du Neolithique a lAntiquite tardive, (pp. 69-80). Beirut: Presses de lifpo.
  • Betts, A., Kidd, F. (2010). Entre le fleuve et la steppe: nouvelles perspectives sur le Khorezm ancien. Comptes-rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, , 637-686.
  • Yagodin, V., Betts, A., Kidd, F., Brite, E., Khozhaniyazou, G., Amirov, S., Yagodin, V., Fray, G. (2010). Karakalpak-Australian Excavations in Ancient Chorasmia. An Interim Report on the Kazakly-yatkan Wall Paintings: the "Portrait" Gallery. Journal of Inner Asian Art and Archaeology, 4, 7-41.
  • Betts, A., Kidd, F. (2010). New directions in silk road archaeology. Archaeologische Mitteilungen aus Iran und Turan. Neue Folge, 42(2010), 1-1.
  • Betts, A., Kidd, F. (2010). New Directions in Silk Road Archaeology: Proceedings of a Workshop held at ICAANE V, Madrid, 2006. Archaeologische Mitteilungen aus Iran und Turan. Neue Folge, 42.

2009

  • Betts, A., Yagodin, V., Helms, S., Khozhaniyazou, G., Amirov, S., Negus Cleary, M. (2009). Karakalpak-Australian Excavations in Ancient Chorasmia, 2001-2005: Interim Report on the Fortifications of Kazakl'i-yatkan and Regional Survey. Iran: Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies, XLVII, 33-55.
  • Jia, W., Betts, A., Wu, X. (2009). Prehistoric archaeology in the Zhunge'er (Junggar) Basin, Xinjiang, China. Eurasian Prehistory, 6(1-2), 167-198.
  • Betts, A., Yagodin, V. (2009). The Tash-K'irman-Tepe Cult Complex: An Hypothesis for the Establishment of Fire Temples in Ancient Chorasmia. In Parry, Ken (Eds.), Art, Architecture and religion Along the Silk Roads, (pp. 1-19). Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols Publishers. [More Information]

2008

  • Kidd, F., Negus Cleary, M., Yagodin, V., Betts, A., Brite, E. (2008). Ancient Chorasmian Mural Art. Bulletin of the Asia Institute, 18, 69-95.
  • Jia, W., Betts, A., Wu, X. (2008). Review of the late prehistoric archaeology in Zhungeer Basin, China. Xinjiangwenwu, (1-2), 35-54.
  • Betts, A. (2008). Things To Do With Sheep and Goats: Neolithic Hunter-Forager Herders in North Arabia. In Hans Barnard and Willeke Wendrich (Eds.), The Archaeology of Mobility: Old World and New World Nomadism, (pp. 25-42). California, USA: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press.

2007

  • Betts, A. (2007). The Aralo-Caspian Region. In Antonio Sagona, Claudia Sagona (Eds.), Ancient Nomads of the Aralo-Caspian Region, (pp. 1-10). Belgium: Peeters Publishers.
  • Betts, A., Yagodin, V. (2007). The Fire Temple at Tash-k'irman Tepe, Chorasmia. In Joe Cribb & Georgina Herrmann (Eds.), After Alexander: Central Asia Before Islam, (pp. 435-453). Oxford: Oxford University Press. [More Information]

2006

  • Betts, A. (2006). Chorasmians, Central Asian nomads and Chorasmian military architecture. In Svend Helms (Eds.), The Military Architecture of Ancient Chorasmia, (pp. 131-155). Paris: de Boccard.
  • Khozhaniyazou, G., Helms, S., Betts, A. (2006). The Military Architecture of Ancient Chorasmia. Paris: de Boccard.

2004

  • Betts, A. (2004). Near East: Clay Plastered Skull. In DT Potts and KN Sowada (Eds.), Treasures of the Nicholson Museum. Sydney: Nicholson Museum, University of Sydney.

2003

  • Betts, A. (2003). Qasr Burqu - desert periphery and urban core. Mediterranean Archaeology, 16, 89-97.

2002

  • Betts, A. (2002). Interpretations of Dhuweila Rock Art: Shamanism and Increase Rites. 2nd International Congress on the Archeology of the Ancient Near East (ICAANE), Berlin: Ex Oriente.
  • Helms, S., Yagodin, V., Betts, A., Khozhaniyazou, G., Negus, M. (2002). The Karakalpak-Australian Excavations in Ancient Chorasmia: the Northern Fromtier of the 'Civilised' Ancient World. Ancient Near Eastern Studies, 39, 3-43.

2001

  • Betts, A. (2001). A Middle Bronze Age Block Mould from Tell Rukeis, Jordan. In Alan Walmsley, Elizabeth Hardy, Katherine Wolrige (Eds.), Australians uncovering ancient Jordan : fifty years of Middle Eastern archaeology : a volume of studies and retrospectives prepared for The Eighth International Conference on the History and Archaeology of Jordan, Sydney University, 9-13 July 2001, (pp. 233-238). Sydney: Research Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Sydney.
  • Helms, S., Betts, A., Kidd, F., Yagodin, V., Khozhaniyazou, G. (2001). Five Seasons of Excavations in the Tash-K'Irman Oasis of Ancient Chorasmia, 1996-2000. An Interim Report. Iran: Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies, XXXIX, 119-144.
  • Betts, A. (2001). Pastoralism. In Russell Adams and Yuval Goren (Eds.), The Archaeology of Jordan, (pp. 615-619). United Kingdom: Academic Press.
  • Betts, A. (2001). The Middle East. In David S Whitley (Eds.), Handbook of Rock Art Research, (pp. 786-823). United States: Academic Press.

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