ABOUT MY RESEARCH
I am an anthropological archaeologist studying the origins of complex societies in the South Caucasus. I co-direct an international collaborative expedition called Project ArAGATS, together with scholars and co-directors from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Republic of Armenia, Cornell University, NYU/Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
My interests also extend to the use of remote sensing, GIS, and photogrammetric techniques and a critical engagement with how these new digital data collections methods are impacting archaeological practice, particularly in post-colonial contexts. Many of the data sets and methods we employ provide excellent opportunities for student participation in the field and laboratory.
Over the past two decades, Project ArAGATS' research has focused on understanding the origins and shifting texture of political complexity in the highlands of the South Caucasus--present data Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia--during the Bronze and Iron Age periods (roughly 3200-400 BC). Our survey and excavations since 1998 have centered on fortified landscapes in the Tsaghkahovit Plain and Kasakh River valley of northern Armenia. My particular interests focus on the role of local communities in the creation of new sociopolitical institutions during the mid-2nd millennium BC and the shifting role of militarism in political subjectivity, social cohesion/fragmentation, and settlement systems with the appearance of fortresses during the Late Bronze Age (1500-1100 BC). Our goal is a holistic understating of the range factors that affected the rise of complex polities in the South Caucasus, including internal political dynamics, environmental change, and historical transformations reverberating from Mesopotamia and the greater Near Eastern world.
Our research programs employ a broad suite of traditional and innovative archaeological methods including archaeozoology, paleobotany, paleoclimate data, bioarchaeology, geomorphology, and photogrammetry as means of advancing our research and increasing in-country research capacities through training and educational programming.
In addition to my field research, I am a past president of the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC), an independent not-for-profit organization that supports collaborative research on Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, both in the South Caucasus and in the US. Through fellowships, conferences, teaching resources and other forms of cooperation, ARISC works to facilitate and enhance the study of this important region.
Orientation to Project ArAGATS' study area in the Mt. Aragats region of Armenia
The following links lead to detailed information about my field-based research projects on Armenia's Late Bronze Age. Different phases of this research have been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Fulbright, the Social Science Research Council, and Purdue University.
Overview of some of the data collection techniques I use in studying Bronze Age landscapes in Armenia
Abstracts and PDFs of select publications
Descriptions and syllabi for courses I teach in the Department of Anthropology.
Department of Anthropology Excellence in Teaching Award (2013-14 & 2016-17)
College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award (2016-17)
Kenneth Kofmehl Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award (2016-17)