My research focuses on the interplay between cultural heritage and identity formation. I am particularly interested in how considerations of cultural heritage and the interpretation of the past among indigenous populations are understood vis-à-vis archaeological tourism, the looting of archaeological sites, and the daily interaction between local populations and archaeologists (foreign and national). Cultural heritage plays a crucial part of identity, telling us who we are and where we come from. Community identity is reinforced through the landscape, the built environment and the archaeological record. My research focuses on the protection of these aspects of cultural heritage. Employing archaeological ethnographies, my research is interdisciplinary and includes aspects of archaeology, cultural anthropology, ethics, historic preservation and law.
I have worked as an archaeologist in the East Mediterranean for almost 20 years, participating in surveys and excavations in Egypt, Greece, Israel, Jordan and Turkey. I received my PhD from the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge, where I examined the effects of the licensed antiquities market in Israel on the archaeological landscape in the surrounding region (Jordan, Israel and Palestine). I also have a Master of Historic Preservation from the University of Georgia, where courses in advocacy, the built environment, law and museums helped to form the basis for my current teaching and research interests.
After earning my MHP, I administered the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation at the Cultural Heritage Center at the US Department of State so I have some “real-life” experience in cultural heritage preservation.
I am currently involved with a number of archaeological field projects, including one with The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. I am co-director of the Regional Exploration into the Galilean Ancient Landscape (REGAL), a new initiative investigating social and ritual organization in the Chalcolithic (c. 4500-3600 BC) of the Levant. I also co-direct the “Follow the Pots” project, an interdisciplinary investigation of the landscape of the dead at the Dead Sea Plain, Jordan. This project combines archaeological and ethnographic methods for the formulation of an engaged anthropology with the systematic scientific recording (ground-truthing) of the archaeological record in order to better understand both the ancient and modern use of a prehistoric mortuary landscape at the Early Bronze Age cemeteries at Bab edh Dhra', Naqa, and Feifa, Jordan. The multi-year project will train students in archaeological surveying, archaeological ethnography, public archaeology and archaeological site management.