Assistant Professor of Archaeology and Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies:
Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World
Phone: +1 401 863 6411
PhD in History of Art, MA in Architectural History, B. Architecture
Ömür Harmanşah works in the field of archaeology, architectural history and material culture of the Near East. He has written on cities, urban space and architectural technologies in ancient Turkey, Iraq and Syria. His academic interests involve intersections of place and landscape, bodily performance, local knowledge, collective memory, and political ecology. He is currently working on a cultural biography of rock reliefs and spring monuments in Anatolia and a critical archaeology of place.
Having been trained as an architect and architectural historian, my research has always been involved with questions of space and spatiality, particularly the social production of space in the ancient Near Eastern world. I am however increasingly interested in questions of place and landscape, especially how archaeological and ethno-historical projects study culturally meaningful places. I am currently working on a monograph that attempts to develop what I call "an archaeology of place".
Archaeological research is usually dependant upon rigorous fieldwork. In the summer of 2010, I initiated the Brown University based and funded Yalburt Yaylasi Archaeological Landscape Research Project, a five-year diachronic regional survey project in West-Central Turkey, in the environs of a Hittite (Late Bronze Age) sacred pool complex and dam. I am also currently involved with projects at Gordion and Ayanis in Turkey. At Gordion, a Phrygian site in Central Anatolia, I have been working on the Early Iron age building technologies and more recently the final publication of Middle Phrygian architecture from the site. At Ayanis, I have worked on the use of stone in the architecture of this Urartian city, located on the Eastern shore of Lake Van in Eastern Turkey. Starting in 2007, I have become affiliated with an ethnoarchaeological project at Ayanis, where I took on the task of documenting architectural traditions and building technologies at the nearby village of Ayanis. My first monograph entitled Cities and the Shaping of Memory in the Ancient Near East was published by Cambridge University Press in March 2013.
Most of my teaching has so far focused on the intersection of two major fields of inquiry: art, architecture and material culture of the ancient Near East on the one hand, and the archaeological, architectural, and art-historical theories used in the study of the ancient world on the other. I plan to continue teaching courses that focus on the intersections of contemporary theory and the archaeological evidence, with particular emphasis on theories of material culture and architectural space and a broad geographical focus on the ancient Near East and the Eastern Mediterranean world (especially Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Syria, Iran, Egypt and the Levant). I do favor thematically designed courses such as those that I have taught so far: "Architecture, Body, and Performance," "Architecture and Memory" and "Material Worlds", and I plan to design new courses that engage with bodies of theoretical discourse and pursue new readings of relevant art-historical and architectural material, especially those that relate to issues of space, body, representation, gender and sexuality, performance, ideology and social memory.
You can reach the web pages of each course I have taught here. Recent courses include my graduate seminars Archaeologies of Place and The Rise (and Demise) of the State in the Near East; graduate/undergraduate courses Architecture and Memory and Under the Tower of Babel: Archaeology, Politics, and Identity in the Modern Middle East; First Year Seminar Intimate Stories.
- Drawing on rocks, gathering by the water: archaeological fieldwork at rock reliefs, sacred springs and other places
- Yalburt Yaylası Archaeological Landscape Research Project