Faculty Books

Water Histories and Spatial Archaeology

This book offers a new interpretation of the spatial-political-environmental dynamics of water and irrigation in long-term histories of arid regions. It compares ancient Southwest Arabia (3500 BC-AD 600) with the American West (2000 BC-AD 1950) in global context to illustrate similarities and differences among environmental, cultural, political, and religious dynamics of water. It combines archaeological exploration and field studies of farming in Yemen with social theory and spatial technologies, including satellite imagery, Global Positioning System (GPS), and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping. In both ancient Yemen and the American West, agricultural production focused not where rain-fed agriculture was possible, but in hyper-arid areas where massive state-constructed irrigation schemes politically and ideologically validated state sovereignty. While shaped by profound differences and contingencies, ancient Yemen and the American West are mutually informative in clarifying human geographies of water that are important to understandings of America, Arabia, and contemporary conflicts between civilizations deemed East and West.

Rural Archaeology in Early Urban Northern Mesopotamia

This book presents the results of the extensive excavation of a small, rural village from the period of emerging cities in upper Mesopotamia (modern northeast Syria) in the early to middle third millennium BC. Prior studies of early Near Eastern urban societies generally focused on the cities and elites, neglecting the rural component of urbanization. This research represents part of a move to rectify that imbalance. Reports on the architecture, pottery, animal bones, plant remains, and other varieties of artifacts and ecofacts enhance our understanding of the role of villages in the formation of urban societies, the economic relationship between small rural sites and urban centers, and status and economic differentiation in villages. Among the significant results are the extensive exposure of a large segment of the village area, revealing details of spatial and social organization and household economics. The predominance of large-scale grain storage and processing leads to questions of staple finance, economic relations with pastoralists, and connections to developing urban centers.

Texts and Contexts

This volume assembles scholars working on cuneiform texts from different periods, genres, and areas to examine the range of social, cultural, and historical contexts in which specific types of texts circulated. Using different methodologies and sources of evidence, these articles reconstruct the contexts in which various cuneiform texts circulated, providing a critical framework to determine how they functioned.

Following the Man of Yamhad

Legal texts recording the purchase or exchange of entire settlements are among the most important cuneiform tablets discovered at Old Babylonian/Middle Bronze Age (Level VII) Alalah. Following the Man of Yamhad is the first book-length study of these legal texts and the socio-economic practice that they document. The author explores the nature of the alienated settlements, the rights enjoyed by their owners, the underlying system of land tenure, and the larger political context in which the transactions occurred. The study is supported by extensive collations and up-to-date editions of relevant legal and administrative texts. Its conclusions will be of interest to anyone working on the history, society, and economy of the Bronze Age Near East.

Communities of Style

Communities of Style examines the production and circulation of portable luxury goods throughout the Levant in the early Iron Age (1200–600 BCE). In particular it focuses on how societies in flux came together around the material effects of art and style, and their role in collective memory.

Critical Approaches to Ancient Near Eastern Art

Critical Approaches to Ancient Near Eastern Art concentrates on the visual, material, and built aspects of the Ancient Near East from the fourth millennium BCE to the Hellenistic period. Presenting innovative theoretical approaches to Ancient Near Eastern art history, this volume will be of value to scholars of the Ancient Near East, as well as to those interested in contemporary art historical and anthropological approaches to visual culture.

Mapping Archaeological Landscapes from Space

Mapping Archaeological Landscapes from Space offers a concise overview of air and spaceborne imagery and related geospatial technologies tailored to the needs of archaeologists. Leading experts including scientists involved in NASA’s Space Archaeology program provide technical introductions to five sections: Historic Air and Spaceborne Imagery, Multispectral and Hyperspectral Imagery, Synthetic Aperture Radar, Lidar, Archaeological Site Detection and Modeling.

Each of these five sections includes two or more case study applications that have enriched understanding of archaeological landscapes in regions including the Near East, East Asia, Europe, Meso- and North America. Targeted to the needs of researchers and heritage managers as well as graduate and advanced undergraduate students, this volume conveys a basic technological sense of what is currently possible and, it is hoped, will inspire new pioneering applications.

Particular attention is paid to the tandem goals of research (understanding) and archaeological heritage management (preserving) the ancient past. The technologies and applications presented can be used to characterize environments, detect archaeological sites, model sites and settlement patterns and, more generally, reveal the dialectic landscape-scale dynamics among ancient peoples and their social and environmental surroundings.  In light of contemporary economic development and resultant damage to and destruction of archaeological sites and landscapes, applications of air and spaceborne technologies in archaeology are of wide utility and promoting understanding of them is a particularly appropriate goal at the 40th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention.​

The Textual Criticism of Sumerian Literature

The occurrence of textual variation is a significant but frequently neglected aspect of the study of Sumerian literary compositions. The correct evaluation of textual variants and the proper understanding of how and why they occur is essential to producing reliable editions of such texts. Such explorations also provide invaluable evidence for the written transmission of Sumerian literary works and a wealth of data for assessing aspects of Sumerian grammar. Drawing from a detailed analysis of the different types of textual variants that occur in the numerous duplicates of a group of ten compositions known collectively as the Decad, this book aims to provide a much needed critical methodology for interpreting textual variation in the Sumerian literary corpus which can be applied to editing and analysing these compositions with improved accuracy.

Sacred Killing

What is sacrifice? How can we identify it in the archaeological record? And what does it tell us about the societies that practice it? Sacred Killing: The Archaeology of Sacrifice in the Ancient Near East investigates these and other questions through the evidence for human and animal sacrifice in the Near East from the Neolithic to the Hellenistic periods. Drawing on sociocultural anthropology and history in addition to archaeology, the book also includes evidence from ancient China and a riveting eyewitness account and analysis of sacrifice in contemporary India, which engage some of the key issues at stake. Sacred Killing vividly presents a variety of methods and theories in the study of one of the most profound and disturbing ritual activities humans have ever practiced.