Research Activities & Opportunities

AHMA students and faculty are active researchers. Many projects are of such scale and complexity that collaboration is required. Below are some of the archaeological and historical research projects in which AHMA students and faculty are currently invovled. 

Archaeological Excavations

For AHMA students interested in learning and practicing archaeological techniques first-hand, U.C. Berkeley sponsors or is associated with a number of important excavations around the world.

Çatalhöyük, Turkey

Professor Ruth Tringham (Anthropology)

The Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük was first discovered in the late 1950s and excavated by James Mellaart between 1961 and 1965. The site rapidly gained international fame due to the large size and dense occupation of the settlement, as well as the spectacular wall paintings and other art that was uncovered inside the houses. Since 1993 an international team of archaeologists, led by Professor Ian Hodder of Stanford University, has been carrying out new excavations and research, in order to shed more light on the people that inhabited the site.

Contact professor Ruth Tringham for more information.


Dhiban Excavation and Development Project (Jordan)

Professor Benjamin Porter (Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures)

 The Dhiban Excavation and Development Project, (DEDP hereafter), investigates how a Near Eastern agro-pastoral community managed the economic and political pressures of imperial rule and expanding global trade in a resource scarce, semi-arid environment.  Previous archaeological and historical investigations reveal that Dhiban has witnessed Mesopotamian, European, and Egyptian imperial interventions over the last three millennia.  Yet it remains unclear how, and to what extent, the town’s political and economic organization changed in response to each of these distinct interventions.  The DEDP has developed an interdisciplinary research design combining excavation, survey, ethnography, geology, and artifact analyses to measure these local responses to empire and global trade.  Benjamin Porter is a co-director of the DEDP.  Annual two-month seasons are scheduled during the summer recess.  Emphasis is placed on training graduate students in archaeological field research methods.

Contact professor Benjamin Porter for more information.

Working at Dhiban, Jordan

El Hibeh, Egypt

Professor Carol Redmount (Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures)

El Hibeh is a first millennium town, temple and cemetery site on the east bank of the Nile River in northern Middle Egypt. Settlement at the site began and seems to have been most extensive during the Third Intermediate Period (approximately 1070-664 BCE), and El Hibeh potentially has great importance for our understanding of this Egyptian dark age. The site continued to be occupied into Byzantine and possibly early Islamic times. Sheshonq I (Shishak of the Hebrew bible), first king of Dynasty 22, built a small limestone temple at the site that still stands. A number of important papyri, including the Tale of Wenamon and the Petition of Petiese, are reported to have come from the site, and British papyrologists Grenfell and Hunt collected a large number of mostly third century BCE papyri in their early twentieth century excavations. The UC Berkeley excavations at El Hibeh, directed by Professor Carol Redmount, began in 2001. Goals of the UC Berkeley El Hibeh project include a better understanding of Third Intermediate Period archaeology, tracing the life cycle of a provincial Egyptian town from its birth to its death, exploring the town's changing relationship to its environment and correlating, where possible, texts from and about El Hibeh with the site's archaeology.

Contact professor Carol Redmount for more information.

Walking to tell in morning, north town wall and “north gate” visible

Mycenae, Greece: Petsas House

Professor Kim Shelton (Classics)

The Late Bronze Age citadel of Mycenae, most commonly recognized as the home of the legendary king Agamemnon, leader of the Greek contingent in the Trojan War, occupies a limestone hill nestled between two low mountains at the northern end of the plain of Argos. The palatial center and its settlement beyond the acropolis reached its height in the 14th-13th centuries BCE. The Petsas House is a building complex in the settlement of Mycenae that was destroyed by earthquake and fire in the late 14th century BCE (LH IIIA 2). It consists of two parallel rows of rooms situated along a terraced slope that originally supported a frescoed upper storey for domestic use . Most of the ground floor was used for the industrial production and storage of pottery. Excavation by the Archaeological Society of Athens was instigated in 1950/51 by Ioannis Papadimitriou and Photios Petsas, and renewed in 2000 by Kim Shelton as Field Director.

Visit the Nemea Center for Classical Archaeology for more information.

 Petsas House

Nemea, Greece

Professor Kim Shelton (Classics)

Ancient Nemea, site of the Panhellenic Sanctuary of Zeus, lies in an upland valley in the modern Greek province of the Korinthia, and in the eastern foothills of the Arkadian mountains. In 1973 the University of California at Berkeley, under the aegis of the American School of Classical Studies and the direction of Stephen G. Miller, began excavations at Nemea with extensive large-scale work from 1974-1983 and 1997-2001. New excavations by the Nemea Center for Classical Archaeology, under its director Kim Shelton, begin in 2010 and will investigate the site's chronology in addition to the primary focus on the early history and prehistory of the sanctuary and the area surrounding it. Reconstruction, conservation and publication research are on-going elements of the project every year.

Visit the Nemea Center for Classical Archaeologyfor more information.

Temple of Zeus at Nemea

Sardis, Turkey

Professor Nicholas Cahill (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

The Archaeological Exploration of Sardis is an interdisciplinary program of excavation and research focused on the site of ancient Sardis, some 60 miles east of Izmir in Turkey. Sardis lies in the territory of ancient Lydia, at the foot of the Tmolus Mountains and overlooking the Hermus River plain, where evidence has been found of human activity as early as the Palaeolithic period (ca. 50,000 B.C.). Recent excavations have focused on the Archaic era, particularly the 7th and 6th centuries B.C., when Sardis was the capital of the Lydian empire and at the height of its power, and on the Late Roman era, when the city flourished anew. 

The Archaeological Exploration of Sardis is jointly sponsored by the Harvard University Art Museums and Cornell University. Excavation and research take place in the summer, once the Turkish Ministry of Culture has reviewed the proposed plan of activity and granted approval. The field staff consists predominantly of Americans and Turks. It includes archaeologists, art historians, architects, conservators, numismatists, epigraphers, object illustrators, photographers, anthropologists, and other scientists. From 1977-2007, the field director was Crawford H. Greenewalt, Jr., professor of classical archaeology at UC Berkeley. In 2008 a distinguished AHMA alumnus and longtime veteran of the Sardis excavations, Professor Nicholas Cahill of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, succeeded him in this role.

Contact professor Nicholas Cahil for more information.

Temple of Artemis at Sardis, Turkey

Research Projects

AHMA faculty and students are currently involved in the following collaborative research projects.

An Atlas of Urbanization in the Roman Empire

Professor Carlos Noreña (History)

A collaborative research project, under the direction of Carlos Noreña and a team of UC Berkeley graduate students, that aims to produce a single-volume reference work on urbanization in the Roman empire.  It includes an analysis of the long-term dynamics of urbanization in the Roman empire, and a series of regional and empire-wide maps, produced by the cartography section of Berkeley's Geography Department, on urbanism, urban networks, and urban connectivity in the Mediterranean world and its continental hinterlands during the Roman period (c. 200 BC to AD 400).

Contact professor Carlos Noreña for more information.

Noreña Map

Map of higher-order urban centers in the Iberian Peninsula, with aggregated radii of 20 km, c. AD 150. Atlas of Urbanization in the Roman Empire project.

California Consortium for the Study of Late Antiquity

The California Consortium for the Study of Late Antiquity, founded in 1999 as a Multi-Campus Research Group on the "History and Culture of Late Antiquity," unites the greatest concentration of scholars in this field on the West Coast, including over a dozen graduate students writing dissertations and many more who select Late Antiquity as a field in their qualifying exams. The Consortium creates an infrastructure of academic exchange between UC campuses for graduate students and faculty. It instructs graduate students in a variety of sub-disciplines and provides them with pre-professional training for the academic job market. It encourages shared and collaborative research of faculty and graduate students through regular meetings. And it addresses undergraduate students and the larger community through lectures and outreach activities.

Visit the California Consortium for the Study of Late Antiquity website for more information.

Manuscript from Badische Landesbibliothek, Germany

Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum (SEG)

Professor Nikolaos Papazarkadas (Classics)

Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum is an international collaborative project that produces the homonymous annual publication (SEG), which collects newly published Greek inscriptions and studies on previously known documents. Every volume contains the harvest of a single year and covers the entire Greek world. First launched in 1923, after a brief hiatus it was resuscitated in 1976 by Professors Ronald Stroud (Berkeley) and Harry Pleket (Leiden), and it has been running uninterruptedly ever since. Currently, the project's main bases are the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, the University of Leiden, the University of Vienna, and the Aleshire Center for the Study of Greek Epigraphy at Berkeley. Ron Stroud (Professor Emeritus) and Nikolaos Papazarkadas (Associate Professor) have been collaborating since 2007 on the Attica and Peloponnese sections of SEG. AHMA and Classics graduate students regularly participate in the project as research assistants.

Contact professor Nikolaos Papazarkadas for more information.

Dedication of Croesus, King of Lydia, to Amphiaraus (sanctuary of Apollo Ismenios, Thebes); photo by O. Kourakis, courtesy of Ephorate of Boiotian Antiquities.