alexander ahrens

Alexander Ahrens
Deutsches Archäologisches Institut

“Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea?” – Levantine Elites at the Fringes of the Bronze Age Empires

Alexander is a Near Eastern Archaeologist and Egyptologist (MA, University of Tübingen, Germany; PhD, University of Bern, Switzerland) and currently a Senior Researcher with the Damascus Branch of the Orient Department of the German Archaeological Institute. His research focuses on Egypto-Levantine relations and cultural exchange during the Bronze Age, the archaeology of the Iron Age in the Levant, and questions pertaining to the cultural heritage of the Near East in general. He has conducted fieldwork in Syria, Egypt, Turkey and Lebanon. He currently directs the Wadi Shuʿaib Archaeological Survey Project and Excavations at Tell Bleibil in West-Central Jordan.


gojko barjamovic

Gojko Barjamovic
Harvard University

“Foreigners, Court and Ceremonial in Middle Bronze Age Kaneš”

Gojko Barjamovic received his training at the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) where he took part in several research projects and taught a broad range of courses and seminars on Mesopotamian languages and culture before coming to Harvard in 2013. His field of interest is the history of Assyria in the 2nd and 1st millennia BC, with particular focus on the study of trade during the Old Assyrian period and the development of early markets and trans-regional interaction. His research also covers the study of early state power and international relations, and explores the functioning of royal courts, diplomacy and local institutions of governance.



Lorenzo d’Alfonso
New York University – ISAW

“Cultic institutions, political identity and core-periphery dynamics. Rethinking the end and aftermath of the Hittite empire”

Lorenzo d’Alfonso is Associate Professor of Ancient Western Asian Archaeology and History at ISAW-NYU. He obtained his PhD in Aegean and Anatolian Studies at the University of Florence in 2002, and occupied several post-doc and research positions in Germany at the University of Mainz and above all Konstanz between 2003-2008. He was then a researcher and adjunct professor at the University of Pavia until he got the position at ISAW. His main research topics are the history and archaeology of Anatolia and Syria between the Late Bronze and the Iron Age, with a focus on socio-economic and political themes. On these he has published a book, more than 60 papers in journals and proceedings of international meetings, and edited three volumes. Since 2011 he is the director of the joint archaeological excavation and of Pavia and New York University in Cappadocia (TR), at Nigde Kinik Hoyuk.

peter dubovsky

Peter Dubovsky
Pontifical Biblical Institute

“The Kingdom of Suhu and its Relations with Assyria”

Born 1965; 1999 SSL at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome; 2005 ThD at the Harvard Divinity School; currently dean at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome and professor of the Old Testament and history. Publications: over two monographs and over 40 scholarly articles and edited books.


pinar durgun

Pınar Durgun
The Met

“Beyond the veil of the great sin: Local Anatolian origins of Hittite mortuary practices”

Pınar is an archaeologist with a background in art history and anthropology, fascinated by the diversity of human reactions to death and dying. She excavates burials, works on cemeteries, and studies mortuary remains. She spends a lot of time thinking and writing about the ways we bury (or do not bury) our dead. Her research focuses on cemeteries in Anatolia and in the wider ancient Near East. She questions how perceptions of death were expressed in the form of burial objects, images, texts, and mortuary rituals. She uses this information to think about how we react to death and dying today. In addition to her academic work, she designs museum education and outreach programs and publishes in popular archaeology magazines to engage different audiences with her research and with the ancient world. When she is not teaching in a classroom or in a museum, she is at a historical cemetery somewhere in New England admiring gravestones. 

Pınar’s personal website:



Avraham Faust
Bar-Ilan University

“The Egyptian Empire in Canaan and the Transformation of Highland Identities”

Avraham (Avi) Faust is Prof. of archaeology at the Department of General History, Bar-Ilan University. He received his degrees from Bar-Ilan University (PhD, 2000), and studied also at the University of Oxford (visiting graduate student, 1997/8) and Harvard University (post-doc, 2002). He is currently directing the excavations at Tel ‘Eton in the Judean Shephelah, and the survey in its vicinity, and he is also the director of “The National Knowledge Center on the History and Heritage of Jerusalem and its Environs: Jerusalem of Big Linked Data”. His research interests include the archaeology of ancient Israel in the Bronze and Iron Ages (biblical archaeology), especially from social and anthropological perspectives, as well as aspects of settlement archaeology, ethnicity, processes of social complexity, and excavations and survey methods and methodology. Avi has more than 200 publications, covering various aspects of the region’s archaeology from the Early Bronze Age to the Byzantine period, with a special focus on Iron Age society. Among the book he authored are Israel’s Ethnogenesis: Settlement, Interaction, Expansion and Resistance (London: Equinox\Routledge, 2006), The Archaeology of the Israelite Society in the Iron Age II (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2012), Judah in the Neo-Babylonian Period: The Archaeology of Desolation (Atlanta: The Society of Biblical Literature; 2012), and The Settlement History of Ancient Israel: A Quantitative Analysis (Ramat Gan: Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies, 2015 [in Hebrew]) (with Zeev Safrai).


Dan Fleming photo

Daniel Fleming
New York University

“Emar, Carchemish, and the Hittites: The Exercise of Power without Administration”

Daniel Fleming is Edelman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University. With Sophie Démare-Lafont (Université Panthéon-Assas, Paris 2) he has been reconsidering the social landscape of Late Bronze Age Emar for its remarkable variety, with a messiness of cross-cutting authority and legal process that may be unexpected under what is often called the Hittite “empire.” His work reflects a preoccupation with political structures that operate by collectives and networks rather than by hierarchies, especially as seen in the early second-millennium archives from Mari (Democracy’s Ancient Ancestors: Mari and Early Collective Governance, Cambridge 2004); and biblical reflections of Israel (The Legacy of Israel in Judah’s Bible: History, Politics, and the Reinscribing of Tradition, Cambridge 2012).


ilgi gercek

N. İlgi Gerçek
Bilkent University

“The Short Arm of the State: Power, Participation, and Resistance in Hittite Frontiers”

N. İlgi Gerçek’s is trained in ancient Near Eastern history and philology, with a focus on the social and political history of Anatolia and Mesopotamia during the Bronze Age (PhD 2012, University of Michigan). She is currently an Assistant Professor at the Department of Archaeology, Bilkent University. She is interested in the study of states, anti-state formations, and social identities in the ancient Near East and has written on imperialism, frontiers, geographical perceptions, and identity in Hittite Anatolia. She is also involved in the conservation and publication of cuneiform collections housed in Turkish museums.


claudia glatz

Claudia Glatz
University of Glasgow

“Beyond Alterity Ritual Temporalities and Belonging in the Zagros-Mesopotamian Borderlands”

Claudia Glatz is an anthropological archaeologist researching the material production of early states and empires and their underlying social relationships at both the landscape scale and through material culture. She is especially interested in the nature and context of sovereignty along the geographical and topographic margins of early states and the ways in which societies located in highland and transitional zones negotiated and resisted external control. This interest in the margins has led her to conduct fieldwork in the mountains of the Pontic region of northern Turkey (Cide Archaeological Project) and in the highland-lowland transitional zone of the Upper Diyala/Sirwan River valley in the Kurdish Region of north-east Iraq (Sirwan Regional Project and Khani Masi Excavations). She also directs a British Council – Cultural Protection Fund funded project, which combines research-led archaeological practice and heritage protection in the Kurdish Region of Iraq, targeting not only archaeologists and heritage professionals but also the wider public, educators and children (



Mahri Leonard-Fleckman
College of the Holy Cross

“‘Languaging’ Landscape in the Iron Age Shephelah: The Case of Timnah”

Mahri Leonard-Fleckman’s training is Bible and Near Eastern Studies (PhD 2014, NYU). She is an Assistant Professor in the Religious Studies Department at College of the Holy Cross. Her first book, The House of David: Between Political Formation and Literary Revision (Fortress, 2016) explores the dynamics between political development and literary constructions of the political landscape in relation to Israel’s “House of David” and Iron Age “House of X” (bīt X) Aramaean polities. Her current book project reexamines assumed notions of identity in southern Israel in the Iron I-II Periods. She is interested in how ancient texts and their readers engage in a dialogical process of constructing or “languaging” society (borrowing a term from the field of secondary language acquisition), and the ramifications of such constructions for the study of the ancient world.



Alvise Matessi
Koç University, Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations

“‘Not only bare walls…’: shifting territorialities and reorienting political discourses in Hittite Anatolia

Alvise holds a Ph.D. degree in Ancient Near Eastern Studies, obtained in 2014 at the University of Pavia with a dissertation on the political geography of South-Central Anatolia during the Hittite period. The core topics of his research are emic perceptions of political spaces, spatial reproduction of authority and effects of spatial constraints on political action. Alvise’s work has touched upon many different contexts of the Eastern Mediterranean, dealing with datasets pertaining to several periods, but his main focus is on the 2nd millennium BCE in Anatolia and Syria. He pursues a holistic approach to history, integrating the interpretation of relevant textual sources with the analysis of archaeological landscapes and their development through time. For the academic year 2014-15, Alvise was appointed Visiting Professor at the Institute for the History of Ancient Civilizations, Northeast Normal University (Changchun, China) and has been research fellow at the Istituto Italiano per la Storia Antica (Rome, Italy) in 2016 and 2017. Currently, he is research affiliate at the University of Pavia, where he is continuing his research on the ancient political landscapes of the Eastern Mediterranean.



Ellen Morris
Barnard College

“On the Fringe Benefits of Life in the Shatter Zones of Egypt’s Empire”

Ellen Morris is an Egyptologist by training and an Assistant Professor at Barnard College in the Department of Classics and Ancient Studies. She has published extensively on subjects related to ancient Egyptian imperialism, including two books: The Architecture of Imperialism: Military Bases and the Evolution of Foreign Policy in Egypt’s New Kingdom (Brill, 2005) and Ancient Egyptian Imperialism (Wiley-Blackwell, 2018). She has also authored numerous articles and book chapters on subjects as diverse as the dynamics of political fragmentation, ancient and cross-cultural experiences of famine, state formation, sexuality and sacred performance, retainer sacrifice, landscape theory, and divine kingship. She has excavated in the Nile Valley at Abydos and Mendes, and also at the site of Amheida in the Dakhleh Oasis. 


shafer - nimar rabat 2018

Ann Shafer
Harvard University

“Innovation as a Boundary Condition in Ancient Assyria and Beyond”

Ann Shafer is an art historian and architect-designer, and is a specialist in Late Assyrian landscape and palace culture. She received her M.A. in Near Eastern Archaeology from the University of Chicago, her M.Arch. from the Rhode Island School of Design, and her Ph.D. in the History of Art and Architecture from Harvard University. Shafer lived and worked for a number of years in the Middle East, and writes on art, architectural ornament, and spatial experience throughout the region, linking the historic and the contemporary. Shafer is also a specialist in artisanal building methods, and has worked alongside craftsmen in parts of the Middle East and North Africa on a number of projects. She has written on various related topics, including traditional design training and the use of artisanal design in sacred space. A key element in her work is social activism, including the development of design-training programs for women. She is currently teaching in New York and Providence, Rhode Island.


valeria turriziani

Valeria Turriziani
Sapienza University of Rome

“‘Those Who Shall Come Against You from the East Shall be Doomed to Sopedu.’ Between Protection and Encounter: Divine Struggles at the Borders of Egypt”

Valeria Turriziani first graduated in Egyptology at Sapienza University of Rome (2011) with an MA Thesis entitled “Djedefra, first Son of Ra: historical and archaeological context” and she specialized in Ancient Egyptian Philology and Texts (Ancient, Middle and Neo-Egyptian) at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome (2009-2013). Her PhD Thesis in Egyptology (Sapienza University of Rome, 2015) is entitled “The so-called minor deities from the origins to the end of the Old Kingdom”. She has carried out many research, laboratory and cataloguing activities for universities, museums and private institutions. She has participated in archaeological fieldwork both in Italy and in Egypt and in numerous Italian and international conferences, with a record of publications including articles and conference proceedings. She had been a Visiting Scholar at the University of Birmingham (UK) for six months (October 2017-March 2018) with a Post-Doc project focused on the revision and publication of her PhD Thesis. The study examines the terminology and the question of the so-called “minor” deities, where the use of the term minor god might indicate deities with a limited cult to a city or to a historical period or even deities who are far less represented both in archaeological and epigraphic sources. Her research is mainly focused on the Old and Middle Kingdom periods of Egypt and her main interests are religion, texts and frontier studies.