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Who We Are

Dr. Morag M. Kersel (DePaul University, Dept. of Anthropology)

With over 20 years of fieldwork experience in the eastern Mediterranean, Morag Kersel has participated in and directed archaeological field projects in Greece, Israel, Jordan, Canada, Ghana and the United States. Over the last 5 years she has conducted archaeological ethnographies in Israel, Jordan, Palestine, the US, and Greece. Under the direction of Colin Renfrew, her PhD dissertation research combined archaeological and ethnographic approaches to examine the markets that antiquities pass through from their original resting place to the eventual purchaser (Kersel 2006). Her study of the legally sanctioned antiquities’ market as a strategy for combating the illicit trade in antiquities used Israel as a case study. She examined how these markets developed, what impact legal and illegal markets have had on site destruction, and how these circumstances guided archaeological practice in the region. This research was supported by various funding agencies including CAORC (Palestine and Jordan), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust, and PEO International. She has published on aspects of this ethnographic research (Kersel 2007, Kersel 2008, Kersel 2012), and given several presentations on this and the Follow the Pots research at the ASOR, AAA, and SAA conferences.

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Figure 40: Morag Kersel

Morag’s interest in ethnographies and community engagement emerged with her master’s work in historic preservation where the focus was on public advocacy and community outreach in the urban and rural southern US and in West Africa. Her interest was grounded in a professional capacity as she spent three years working with the US Department of State in the Cultural Heritage Center where she monitored the trade in antiquities through a series of bilateral agreements with various nations. From 2006-2007 she spent 8 months living in Jordan cultivating relationships with various stakeholders involved with archaeology, museums, the trade in antiquities and the protection of the archaeological heritage of the region.

Currently, Morag is an Assistant Professor at DePaul University in the Department of Anthropology. http://works.bepress.com/morag_kersel/

Dr. Meredith S. Chesson (University of Notre Dame, Dept. of Anthropology)

Her area of specialization is anthropological archaeology. Her research focuses on the integration of anthropological theory, ethnographic research, and archaeological practice in exploring the process of urbanization (or perhaps more accurately proto-urbanism) in the southern Levant (encompassing modern Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, and Jordan) during the Early Bronze Age (c.3,600-2,000 BCE). In order to explore the articulation of social, political and economic structures, and the negotiation and assertion of group and individual social identities in the early walled communities of this region, she has directed excavations at Tell el-Handaquq South, el-Lejjun, and Khirbet el-Minsahlat, all located in Jordan. She is also actively working with R. Thomas Schaub to edit the final publications for excavations at Bab adh-Dhra`, Numayra, Fifa, and Khirbet Khanazir conducted by the Expedition to the Dead Sea Plain.

Meredith is particularly interested in learning about the lives of the people living in these early EBA communities, and with reconstructing a sense of the connections between households and governance structures in these settlements. In her research, she has concentrated on the analysis of the relationships between households, administrative, and ritual spaces in these early walled towns, as well as EBA mortuary practices. From a methodological and theoretical perspective, she is very interested in issues of difference, practice theory, mortuary practices, household archaeology, social memory and identity, and feminism and archaeological practice. Emerging from her EBA research on the southeastern Dead Sea Plain through the EDSP, she has become increasingly involved in exploring the why’s, where’s, how’s of looting archaeological remains in this region.

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Figure 41: Meredith Chesson

Recently, she has joined the Bova Marina Archaeological Project (BMAP) as a co-director, and begun research on the later Bronze Age in southern Calabria, Italy. Over the last decade the BMAP team, directed by Drs. John Robb (Senior Lecturer, Cambridge University), Lin Foxhall (Professor, Leicester University), David Yoon (Medieval and Roman freelance archaeologist) and most recently has conducted multidisciplinary research in the Bova Marina region, incorporating archaeological survey, documentary analysis of historical archives, GIS, geomorphology, ethnoarchaeology, and archaeological excavations to assess the nature of settlement, land use, social complexity, trade, and technology from the Neolithic to modern periods. The team’s research project involves an international team of scholars from the UK, Canada, and the US with ongoing survey and excavation projects running simultaneously (please see http://www.arch.cam.ac.uk/~jer39/BMAP/index.html for a full list of researchers and projects). BMAP’s research agendas fit very well with an increased scholarly interest in understanding the networks of connectivity, regional and local identities, and what it meant to be part of the greater Mediterranean world in prehistoric and historic periods.

Currently, Meredith is an Associate Professor at the University of Notre Dame in the Department of Anthropology.