cultural heritage research project:
Disruptive technologies and negative heritage: Evaluating the 3D reconstruction of the Triumphal Arch of Palmyra
more details to come soon. thank you for your patience as this site is updated.
Landscape, Symbolism and Human-Nature Relationships in Ancient Anatolia (LSAA)
How have relationships between people and the natural world changed over several millenia?
Based at Centro de Estudios del Cercano Oriente Antiguo, Catholic University of Argentina, this new research project brings together four principal investigators (Melissa Ricetti, Lilian Dogiama, Romina Della Casa, and Lindsay Der) in a multi-sited study that traces human-nature interactions spanning the Neolithic through the Bronze Age. In the last decade, human-nature relationships have been at the forefront of research, allowing for a better understanding of the many ways in which the natural environment was instrumental in shaping the cultural one and vice versa. Landscape, therefore, has come to be understood as more than just a “representation” or “view” of a given world. Contrary to this traditional interpretation, it can be approached as the multiple lived relationships that people maintain with places, as well as the dynamic and reciprocal experiences of the members of a certain group and their environment. The varied methodologies carried out by the specialists collaborating in this project extend from the use of systematic statistical and geographic information systems (GIS) to the comparative examination of cylinder seal iconography; from attribute analyses of stone projectile points to a philological approach to cuneiform tablets, and more.
phd dissertation project 2011 - 2016:
The role of human-animal relations in the social and material organization of Çatalhöyük, Turkey.
have you ever wondered what makes some societies stay together and others fall apart?
Now imagine this question as it pertains to communities existing thousands of years ago, before the advent of writing and histories, class, and even private property. As a Doctoral Candidate at Stanford University, my research seeks to understand how the Neolithic prehistoric town of Çatalhöyük (7400-6000 BC), located on the Konya plain in what is now central Turkey, managed to sustain itself for over 1,000 continuous years before being abandoned by its estimated 8,000 inhabitants. The twist to this story is that I investigate this question from the perspective of changing human-animal relations.
For more information on the Çatalhöyük Research Project:
One of the largest settlements of its time, Çatalhöyük defies conventional models for humanity's trajectory toward social complexity and stratification. Despite a densely packed population numbering in the thousands, there is no evidence of public spaces, monuments, or violence indicative of inequality, though variation in house elaboration and ritual implies horizontal social difference. The Neolithic period was a time when the domestication of animals and the farming of plants was a relatively new concept and when hunting and gathering continued to contribute to everyday subsistence. Indeed, interactions with wild animals were a major part of everyday life and the social milieu, as evident by the numerous wall paintings, reliefs, and elaborate architectural installations which have made Çatalhöyük famous. Given the above factors, in addition to its extensive excavation and a continuous occupation of over 1,000 years, Çatalhöyük provides a unique case study for furthering understanding of how human-animal relations would have been a transformative force in ritual and social spheres and a major factor in forging the social ties that bound and kept people together.
why does this research matter?
This dissertation is the overdue synthesis of twenty years of excavation, integrating data from an unprecedented international collaborative research team of lab specialists to illuminate the threads that bind people and animals. It departs from conventional climate and environmental-degradation models, addressing domestication as a parameter and mechanism for long-standing questions on social transformation. Rather than essentialize animals, it theorizes them as actively shaping everyday human life. At Çatalhöyük, and potentially other Middle Eastern mega-sites, this efficacy is manifested in household collections of faunal remains and art. Thus, through the lens of human-animal relations, we have the ability to gain insight into the social trajectory of prehistoric settlements.
This project uses computational social science techniques to synthesize mass quantities of qualitative and quantitative datasets (including 163,501 faunal remains, stamp seals, moulded reliefs, wall paintings, faunal installations, architecture and 1,249 zoomorphic figurines).