Institute at Brown for Environment and SocietyIBES

Graduate Students: Anthropology and Archaeology

Harper is an anthropological archaeologist studying Maya archaeology and paleoethnobotany. Her research centers around using archaeological and paleoethnobotanical methods to understand local agricultural strategies in the northern Maya lowlands during the Classic period, and particularly how these strategies relate to food security and social understandings of food. More broadly, she is interested in ancient Maya foodways, political economies, and people-plant relations. 

Darcy's dissertation project focuses on the construction of social landscapes in the ancient Egyptian deserts. The project assesses the nexus of environment and society by using the archaeological record to examine the changing ways in which ancient people interacted with desert landscapes. These interactions were both physical and conceptual, and responded to cultural, political, and environmental change in closely entangled ways.

Julia's research focuses on the archaeology of the Roman Empire, with a particular interest in ancient foodways. She works to reconstruct and analyze diet and the practices surrounding food and drink in the ancient world. The study of foodways ties into broad questions in social and economic history, and is always deeply linked to the complex relationships between human societies and their environments, on which systems of food production and exchange are inherently predicated. She is currently working on a project investigating the introduction of rabbits to Britain.

Sam’s research sits at the intersection of environmental science and archaeology. She studies local variability within inferred patterns of land-use, economic systems, and environmental change during the 1st millennium BCE in the Western Mediterranean. The methodology of her work is based in palaeoclimatology and archaeometry embedded in a theoretical framework stemming from political ecology. Her dissertation examines the extent and ways that indigenous traditions and colonial innovations of rural production and settlement were combined or rejected in several coastal lowlands across the Western Mediterranean, as local communities adapted their own needs to colonial rule and its demands. These case studies are selected as physical and conceptual spaces of confrontation and negotiation between colonization policies and rural realities as shaped by different relationships to the natural world. This is based on her archaeological fieldwork in Sardinia, Central Italy, Tunisia, and Spain, supported in part by IBES. The analytical core of her dissertation stems from her research in DEEPS on developing a novel method application for extracting palaeoclimatic information directly from archaeological materials using a unique class of organic biomarkers. The basis for the application of GDGTs (glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraetherlipids) as chemical biomarkers is the assumption that variation in climatic variables, including mean annual air temperature, soil pH, and precipitation, over space and time are reflected in the composition and distribution of these compounds. She is finishing up all lab analyses for her dissertation (supported by IBES’ RT&T grant) and writing up her dissertation as well as several articles including one focused on the assumptions and transdisciplinary misunderstandings that lead to the misalignment and misinterpretation of climate and archaeological data in Mediterranean environmental history.

Evan is an archaeologist, interested in diachronic settlement patterning, natural resource exploitation, and cultural contact at the regional scale. By incorporating intensive survey data, remote sensed imagery, and environmental data, his research focuses primarily on the Eastern Mediterranean, where he currently conducts fieldwork in Petra, Jordan and throughout Greece. In each case, Evan is interested in the development of rugged and marginal landscapes, and their integration within broader networks of economic, social, and religious activity over time. 

Max Peers' research interests revolve around spatial analysis and the interface between the built and natural environments. Peers' projects would utilize computer analyses, such as those he used in his Master's Thesis, to better understand the motives and implications behind visibility and movement in architecture and urban spaces, and how this affects our interactions with the natural environment surrounding cities. Too often is there a divide in archaeology between studies of urban contexts and the larger landscapes they are found in, and IBES offers the framework to connect these two areas. By striving for a deeper understanding of the interaction between urban and natural spaces in antiquity, one can better grasp how our current global situation came to be. 

Matt is a graduate student at the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World interested primarily in the eastern Mediterranean during the Late Prehistoic through to the early Classical period. In his developing research, Matt intends to employ paleoclimate and paleoenvironmental reconstructions drawn from pollen, sediment, and speleothem data to understand how humans shaped – and were in turn shaped by – the evolving agricultural landscape of the rural Peloponnese, Greece. Generally, Matt is interested in historical-ecological trends in landuse, resource management and development, and mobility in alpine regions and he hopes to highlight through his research how environmental and climate changes affected certain socio-economic structures in antiquity.

Daniel is a graduate student at the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World specializing in long-term histories of agricultural intensification and landscape modification. Using a variety of survey, excavation, and remote sensing methodologies, he focuses on better understanding the social and political contexts in which agricultural strategies change and how they affect long-term uses of the land. His research currently takes place in Peru and Jordan.

Miriam studies the effects of destructive volcanism on human settlements and communities. Her primary research site is the Caribbean island of Montserrat, where she is investigating how eruptions from the Soufrière Hills Volcano and community responses to this crisis have transformed the landscapes of the volcanic 'Exclusion Zone’ since 1995. Miriam's research integrates scientific approaches to studying (post)depositional processes of site formation with ethnographic research about ruination, dark heritage, traumatic temporalities, and resilience. Her work contributes an archaeological perspective to the disciplines of social volcanology and disaster/hazard studies.

Bethany is an anthropological archaeologist who works primarily in the Peruvian Andes. She is interested in colonial economy and infrastructure, especially relating to extractive industries (e.g. mercury and salt mining), and how this intersects with pastoral lifeways and communities. Bethany combines archaeological excavation and survey with geoarchaeological techniques to better understand the interplay between environmental and social processes in the late prehispanic and colonial Andes.

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