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At the core of my research is an ongoing effort to grapple with the relationship between imperialism and the vast world of material things. As both an archaeologist of southwest Asia and a scholar of the Soviet and post-Soviet Caucasus, I pursue this concern with the materiality of empire across temporal and disciplinary boundaries—ancient and modern, archaeological and ethnographic.
My first book, Imperial Matter: Ancient Persia and the Archaeology of Empires (UC Press, 2016), develops an archaeological framework for understanding the endurance of imperial formations that centers on how the material world contributes to the making of political life under empire. The ancient Persian Empire and its northern province of Armenia provide the empirical terrain for detailing that relationship. Underlying the research is a long-term project to bring the archaeology of Iran, the Caucasus, and wider Eurasia into the broad conversation on imperialism that has long linked the humanities and social sciences.
My new research extends this preoccupation with ‘imperial matter’ into the contemporary past and present, with an investigation into the materiality of Soviet and post-Soviet life in the South Caucasus. I currently conduct archaeological and ethnographic research in Armenia that focuses on meaning and faith in the ruins of socialism and post-socialism. This research also asks what role can or should archaeology play in mitigating misfortune in poverty-stricken rural Armenia.
I am co-director of a long-term collaborative field project in Armenia called the Project for the Archaeology and Geography of Ancient Transcaucasian Societies (Project ArAGATS), co-director of Cornell's Landscapes and Objects Laboratory, and co-founder and co-director of the Aragats Foundation.
OFFICE HOURS SPRING 2018:
Anthropological archaeology Near Eastern archaeology
- Archaeology Program
- Near Eastern Studies
- Near Eastern Studies
- 2017 Fitful Histories and Unruly Publics: The Archaeology of Eurasia (third author, with Kathryn Weber, Emma Hite, and Adam T. Smith). Brill.
- 2016 Imperial Matter: Ancient Persia and the Archaeology of Empires. University of California Press.
- In press “Pottery Typology and Craft Learning in the Northern Near East.” Iranica Antiqua.
- Forthcoming "From Copy to Proxy: The Politics of Matter and Mimesis in Achaemenid Armenia." In The Art of Empire in Achaemenid Persia: Festschrift in Honor of Margaret Cool Root, ed. M. Garrison and E. Dusinberre. Leiden: Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten.
- 2015 "Objects in Crisis: Curation, Repair, and the Historicity of Things in the South Caucasus (1500-300 BC)." Social Theory in Archaeology and Ancient History: The Present and Future of Counternarratives, ed. Geoff Emberling. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 231-258 (with Adam T. Smith).
- 2014. "Empire in the Everyday: A Preliminary Report on the 2008-2011 Excavations at Tsaghkahovit, Armenia." American Journal of Archaeology, 118(1):137-169.
- 2013 “An Archaeology of Hegemony: The Achaemenid Empire and the Remaking of the Fortress in the Armenian Highlands.” In Empires and Complexity: On the Crossroads of Archaeology, History, and Anthropology, ed. G. Areshian. Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, University of California, 108-145.
- 2012 “The Achaemenid Provinces in Archaeological Perspective.” In A Companion to the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World), ed. D.T. Potts. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub, 963-983.
- 2011 “The Iron Age in Eastern Anatolia.” In The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Anatolia, ed. S. Steadman and G. McMahon. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- 2010 “Project ArAGATS: 10 Years of Investigation of Bronze and Iron Age Sites in the Tsaghkahovit Plain.” TŰBA AR: Turkish Academy of Sciences Journal of Archaeology (co-authored with R. Badalyan and A.T. Smith).
- 2008 “Village, Fortress, and Town in Bronze Age and Iron Age Southern Caucasia: A Preliminary Report on the 2003-2006 Investigations of Project ArAGATS on the Tsaghkahovit Plain, Republic of Armenia.” Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Iran und Turan (co-authored with R. Badalyan, A.T. Smith, I. Lindsay, and P. Avetisyan).
- 2008 “The 2005-2006 Excavations of the Iron III Settlement at Tsaghkahovit.” Aramazd: Armenian Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 91-100.
- 2008 “Making Nations from the Ground Up: Traditions of Classical Archaeology in the South Caucasus.” American Journal of Archaeology, 112.2, p. 247-78.
- 2007 “Unforgettable Landscapes: Attachments to the Past in Hellenistic Armenia.” In Negotiating the Past in the Past: Identity, Memory, and Landscape in Archaeological Research, ed. N. Yoffee. University of Arizona Press, p. 43-75.
- 2005 “Seals and Sealings: Archaeological Perspectives.” In This Fertile Land: Signs and Symbols in the Early Arts of Iran and Iraq, ed. M.C. Root, p. 19-34. Kelsey Museum Catalogue.
- 2005 “An Overview of Place and Space.” In This Fertile Land: Signs and Symbols in the Early Arts of Iran and Iraq, ed. M.C. Root, p. 15-17 (with M.C. Root). Kelsey Museum Catalogue.