The Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures is concerned with the languages, literatures, and civilizations of the ancient, medieval, and modern Near East. The Department offers specialized training in Archaeology, Art History, Assyriology, Egyptology, Iranian Studies, Judaic and Islamic Studies, Comparative Semitics, Turkish, Hebrew, Arabic and Persian.
In 2008-2009, the authors performed a collections assessment on the Peter B. Cornwall Collection at the P.A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology. The document describes the collection's history, its contents, and avenues for future research.
Since 2008, the Dilmun Bioarchaeology Project has analyzed the human skeletal remains and artifacts that Peter B. Cornwall excavated from Bahrain in the 1940s, now held in the Hearst Museum of Anthropology. One mode of interpretation and dissemination pursued by the DBP team is forensic facial reconstruction. The subject of the first reconstruction is a twelve- to fifteen-year-old male who lived during the Early Dilmun period (ca. 2050–1800 b.c.e.). The resulting sculpture incorporates skeletal data about his identity and health as well as visual cues grounded in archaeological and sociohistorical contexts. It will be one of two reconstructions at the center of a traveling museum exhibition beginning in 2013. The goal of the exhibition is to present members of past societies to the interested public in a tangible fashion that encourages empathy and an appreciation of our shared humanity.
Extensification in a Mediterranean Semi-Arid Marginal Zone: An Archaeological Case Study from Early Iron Age Jordan's Eastern Karak Plateau
The extensification of agricultural systems into marginal lands is a common response to environmental,economic, and political pressures for more cultivable land. Yet the course that extensification takes inparticular instances is unpredictable given the choices available to producers. This article investigates aninstance of extensification during the late second millennium BCE on the semi-arid Eastern Karak Plateauin west-central Jordan. Architectural, faunal, and archaeobotanical evidence is presented from Khirbat al-Mudayna al-’Aliya, one of several communities that participated in an extensified settlement system onthe edge of the Wadi al-Mujib and its tributaries. Producers practiced agriculture and pastoralism in alow-intensity subsistence economy that supported a nucleated settlement of households. Faunal analysisdetermined goats were kept, and wild animals supplemented diets. Archaeobotanical analysis of charredplant remains from storage bins in a building destroyed byfire indicated that barley was stored in a semi-processed state and that harvesting by uprooting was practiced, thus resulting in the maximization of thestraw harvest. The riparian zone beneath the settlement was a key venue for subsistence activities. ThisEarly Iron Age example contrasts with later episodes of extensification whose settlement systems weremore dispersed and agro-pastoralist regime more integrated.