Dr. Antti Lahelma (PhD, University of Helsinki) is vice-director of the Centre of Excellence in Ancient Near Eastern Empires and leader of Team 3.
Lahelma holds a docentship in Archaeology from the University of Helsinki and is a Senior Lecturer in archaeology there. His core expertise lies in the study of prehistoric identity, cultural production, and worldview, and his dissertation on Finnish rock art, A Touch of Red (2008), remains a landmark work on the subject, used as a textbook in several Scandinavian universities. Since 2012, he is the editor-in-chief of Fennoscandia Archaeologica, the leading peer-reviewed journal on the archaeology of northernmost Europe.
Between 1998 and 2007, Lahelma served as one of the chief archaeologists of the Finnish Jabal Hārūn Project, spending eight field seasons excavating a Nabataean/Byzantine religious complex in Petra, Jordan, as well as contributing major chapters to the project’s final publications (Petra – the Mountain of Aaron, Vols. I and II). He thus has excellent knowledge of the local conditions for conducting fieldwork in Jordan. He also has experience in the museum and heritage sector. Lahelma has worked for regional Finnish museums, the Finnish National Heritage Board, and the National Museum of Finland; the latter of which recently (spring 2016) commissioned him to produce a manuscript for the new permanent archaeology exhibit.
Keywords: archaeology of religion, rock art, iconography, archaeoacoustics, conflict archaeology, cosmology, Neolithic, Petra, early Byzantine period, the circumpolar region, hunter-gatherers
Dr. Marta Lorenzon (PhD in Archaeology, University of Edinburgh) is an archaeologist and architectural specialist. She is currently the vice-leader of ANEE's Team 3 and a university researcher in the Faculty of Arts. Her research concentrates on developing an interdisciplinary methodology in the study of ancient architecture, combining geoarchaeology, ethnoarchaeology and social anthropology. Since 2005 she has worked in the Mediterranean region, in the Americas and Asia with a research focus in earthen architecture, knowledge of production, conflict archaeology and identity construction. Her core expertise lies in the archaeology of architecture, geo-ethnoarchaeology, and community outreach.
Currently, Lorenzon's research at ANEE concentrates primarily on the built environment as a key instrument to investigate the process of identity creation in ancient and modern times, the relationship between power and architecture in the first millennium BCE Near East, and the use of computational archaeology in diachronic settlements analysis.
Keywords: craft specialisation, Near Eastern architecture, mudbrick, geoarchaeology, earthen architecture, building archaeology, anthropology of architecture, identity building through architecture, Egyptian architecture, urban planning, preservation, community archaeology, postcolonial theories, public archaeology and outreach, excavation methods
Dr. Rick Bonnie (PhD, University of Leuven) is University Lecturer in Museology at the University of Helsinki. He holds a docentship in archaeology from the same university, with an emphasis on Mediterranean and Middle Eastern archaeology. His research interests include museum and heritage ethics, object biographies, decolonisation and provenance issues, museum collection histories, and sensory archaeology. Bonnie currently directs two projects. He leads a team of archaeologists, anthropologists, museum educators and teachers in a project titled Making Home Abroad: Understanding Migrant Experiences and Heritage Implementation in Finland (Finnish Cultural Foundation, 2020–22). The project engages communities with stored-away Middle Eastern objects in Finnish museum collections through 3D scanning technologies, teaching toolkits, and pop-up museums. He also leads a UH 3-year project Religious Responses to Climate Change in the Southern Levant (2019–22). This project uses archaeological data, historical sources, and hydrological modelling to study to what extent the changing climatic situation in Roman-period Palestine impacted Jewish ritual purification practices. Within ANEE, Bonnie coordinates the making of an exhibition around the Ancient Near East that will open in mid-2022 with ANEE’s museum partners. Furthermore, he currently co-leads a Nordic NOS-HS workshop series, Changing Hands, Changing Meanings: Researching Cultural Heritage Trafficking in the Nordic Region, with colleagues from Kristiansand, Oslo, Stockholm, and Turku.
Keywords: Museum and heritage ethics, museum collection histories, decolonisation and provenance issues, object biographies, sensory archaeology, Jewish material culture, Mediterranean archaeology
Dr. Benjamín Cutillas Victoria (PhD in Archaeology, University of Murcia) is a post-doctoral researcher between the University of Murcia (Spain) and the National Center for Scientific Research Demokritos (Greece). His research explores archaeometric data from ceramics and earthen building materials to investigate the configuration and evolution of Mediterranean community identities during the 1st millennium BC. From 2018, he is also chief archaeologist of some excavations and survey projects in the Iberian Southeast. He contributes actively in ANEE fieldwork project –TYRAS– and affiliated projects – Building Sustainability and Earthen Architecture in Nordic Research (PI: Marta Lorenzon). He also focuses on interactions between East and West Mediterranean linked to the Phoenician colonisation process.
Keywords: Late Bronze Age, Iron Age, pottery, archaeometry, earthen building materials, geoarchaeology, ceramic kilns, landscape archaeology, fieldwork, archaeological survey, postcolonial approach
Helen Dawson is a prehistoric archaeologist specialising in the study of the Mediterranean islands. After leaving her native Sicily to study Mediterranean prehistory at Cambridge (MPhil 2000) and University College London (PhD 2005), she moved to Berlin in 2013 and joined the Topoi Excellence Cluster of the Freie Universität Berlin as a Marie Curie – COFUND Research Fellow (2013-2015) and as a Gerda Henkel scholar (2015-2019). Her latest research uses network analysis to trace connections between the coastal and island communities of Sicily and the wider Mediterranean during the Bronze Age. Local, regional, and inter-regional networks illustrate changes in centrality and marginality during this period.
Paula Gheorghiade (PhD, University of Toronto) is a post-doctoral researcher and archaeologist focusing on Late Bronze Age mobility and interaction in the east Mediterranean. Her current research explores terrestrial mobility between areas traditionally considered as ‘peripheral’ to central seats of power, for a more nuanced understanding of diachronic interaction in the Near East. Since 2012 she has excavated at the site of Palaikastro, Crete with the Palace and Landscape at Palaikastro (PALAP) project, and in 2022 she participated in the Team 3 fieldwork project in Jordan.
Keywords: Late Bronze Age networks of mobility and interaction; Late Bronze Age trade and exchange; Late Minoan (LM II-IIIB2) pottery; economic history; data science; quantification; GIS; quantitative archaeology and modelling; network science in archaeology; discourses on transculturality, materiality, and value as applied to ceramic and exotic imports, skeuomorphs, copies, and ‘hybrid’ artifacts.
Dr Elisabeth Holmqvist-Sipilä holds a PhD in archaeological materials science (Institute of Archaeology, University College London), and MA and BA degrees in archaeology (University of Helsinki). Her research focuses on ancient craft technologies and geochemical characterisation of archaeological materials, particularly questions related to movement of people and goods, and adaptation and transfer of cultural traditions. She has worked at the University of Helsinki since 2012, e.g. as a Helsinki Collegium of Advanced Studies Core Fellow (2018–2020), senior lecturer (2016–2017) and Academy of Finland postdoctoral fellow (2012–2015). She is currently involved in archaeological research projects in Finland, Israel and Jordan. She has served as the ceramic analyst for the Jabal Hārūn excavations in Petra (2002–2007). In ANEE Team 3, she is responsible for the materials science analysis of the archaeological materials.
Uine Kailamäki is a PhD student in the Doctoral Programme in Geosciences at the University of Helsinki. She has completed supporting studies in chemistry, radiochemistry, and geology to complement her MA and BA degrees in archaeology, and focuses on applying scientific methods to answer archaeological questions.
Currently Kailamäki is working on her dissertation as a part of the three-year project “Building sustainability”. Her goal is to investigate interactions between past people and their built and natural environments in the first millennium BCE Eastern Mediterranean by the means of conducting archaeological, geochemical, sedimentological, micromorphological and statistical analyses on earthen architecture samples from multiple archaeological sites.
Dr. Paula Kouki's (PhD, University of Helsinki) specialties are interdisciplinary work between archaeology and sciences (geology, geography) and archaeological surveys. Her dissertation (2012) was about the rural settlement in the Petra region from the Nabatean through the Late Byzantine period. She also has a minor in geology and an MA in landscape studies from the University of Leicester, UK (2004). Kouki participated in the Finnish Jabal Harun Project as a member and later as a vice-leader of the archaeological survey team in 1999-2013. Currently, Kouki is involved in the Holocene Environmental Change in Southern Levant project, directed by Dr. Bernhard Lucke (Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg). Kouki is also an active expert in participatory archaeology and museum work. In her published articles, she has concentrated mainly on the archaeology of Jordan (e.g. together with Prof. Mika Lavento and Prof. em. Jaakko Frösén, she was the main editor of the FJHP survey publication, Petra: The Mountain of Aaron. The Archaeological Survey ).
Heidi Kovanen (PhD in Archaeology, University of Helsinki) is an archaeologist and art historian specialising in the architecture of death and burial. Her research focuses on developing new perspectives and sustainable discussion in the Humanities, with a special focus on questions about sex and gender.
Since 2013, Heidi has worked especially in the Mediterranean region – Greece and Italy – with a strong focus on Classical antiquity and the Middle Ages. Her doctoral dissertation (2023) is one of the few works that acknowledges nonbinary identities in the Iron Age Southern Levant, and the most comprehensive work written about Iron Age human remains in the Transjordan.
Keywords: Archaeology, Iron Age, Southern Levant, sex, gender, death, burial, human remains, body politics, necropolitics, funerary architecture, archaeological theory, nonbinary identities, philosophy of science.
Dr. Maria Gabriella Micale (PhD, Sapienza Università di Roma) is researcher at the Freie Universität Berlin and P.I. of the project Die Terrakotten der Achämenidenzeit: Neue Perspektiven auf Basis des unpublizierten Materials von Tell Mardikh, Syrien (DFG - Eigene Stelle funding scheme). As Visiting Research at ANEE (09.2020/02.2021) she was P.I. of the project Persian Achaemenid Materials in Context: the Rural Settlement of Tell Mardikh (Syria). During this period in Helsinki she undertook a specific evaluation of the impact of the mechanisms of Empire in the local material production. Based on unpublished materials and their architectural and stratigraphic context, her research offers the chance to engage in a broader investigation of Syria in this period — a complex study that, in a long perspective, aims at filling the gap between what is known of Syria and the other neighboring regions in the same centuries.
Beside her extensive field activities as member of the Italian Archaeological Expedition at Ebla, she is an expert on ancient Near Eastern art and visual culture. Her monograph (2011, Rome) is the first and most comprehensive study of Assyrian images of architecture. She continued research on this issue as P.I. of the project Between Bricks, Images, and Words. The Place of Architecture in the Mesopotamian Description of the World at TOPOI-Excellence Cluster, Freie Universität Berlin. She extensively writes also on the history of archaeological research in the Near East. She developed a particular focus on drawings reconstructing ancient buildings and the hidden reciprocal influence between these drawings and modern architecture.
Keywords: Persian Period Syria, Ebla/Tell Mardikh, Bronze Age Syria, terracotta figurines, ancient Near Eastern art and visual culture, Iron Age seals, Mesopotamian architecture, ancient images of architecture, modern reconstructions of ancient architecture, architectural drawings, history of archaeology (ANE), modern reception (ANE), network analysis.
Dr. Päivi Miettunen holds a PhD in Middle Eastern studies from the University of Helsinki. In 2017-2018 she lived in Beirut and worked as a researcher and coordinator in the Finnish Institute in the Middle East, studying information practices and identity building in tribal communities. In 2016, she worked as a visiting researcher in the Center for Middle Eastern Studies in Lund University, focusing especially on information sharing and representations of tribal identities in social media. Her doctoral dissertation was a case study of holy sites in Southern Jordan. Miettunen spent several months among the Bedouin in the region, collecting data about the various sites and observing their social and religious functions. This project was a direct continuation from her MA thesis, in which she focused on the site of Aaron’s mountain near Petra. Miettunen was a member of the Finnish Jabal Haroun Project between 2000-2007. Through her ethnographic research, Miettunen has gained extensive knowledge of the Jordanian society and tribal communities. She is interested in the processes of community engagement through information sharing and collaboration.
Keywords: Arabic (Levantine dialects), Tribal networks, Tribal identities, Modern society (Jordan, Lebanon, Syria), Islamic pilgrimage, saints and holy sites in the Levant, Anthropological field research methods, Space and Place, Oral narratives
Samuel Reinikainen (MA, University of Turku) is an archaeologist specializing in ancient Near Eastern imagery and Finnish prehistory. His ongoing PhD project Defaced Kings and Disfigured Gods explores ancient Near Eastern iconoclasm (image destruction) of monumental royal and divine imagery, which he analyzes using experimental-traceology. This research seeks to identify traces from weapons and tools used to deface imagery, and questions why specific areas of images have been targeted, combining iconography with (micro-)photogrammetry and microscopy. The research aims to bring new insights into politics, conflict and religion in the ancient Near East, and to understand how humans create and contest history by erecting and destroying monuments. Reinikainen also provides editorial work and translation for the archaeological journal Muinaistutkija.
Before starting his PhD Reinikainen was employed as a field archaeologist around Finland with a stint in Southeastern England. He is now bound for ANEE team 3 fieldwork in Jordan.
Keywords: iconoclasm, experimental-traceology, ancient Near Eastern art and visual culture, monuments, memory, iconography, micro-photogrammetry, conflict
Dr. Stefan L. Smith (PhD, University of Durham) is a specialist in GIS and landscape archaeology of the Ancient Near East, with a focus on human subsistence in climatically marginal regions, interactions between nomadic and sedentarist populations, and modern methods of field documentation and analysis. Since his PhD (2016), he has occupied various postdoctoral positions in Jordan and Belgium (including as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow, 2017-2020), and since 2015 co-directs the "Western Harra Survey" in the north-eastern desert of Jordan, a fieldwork project dedicated to documenting the subsistence practices of the region's prehistoric populations by analysis of the stone structures they left behind. In the meantime, Dr. Smith has been working on his on-going research project on human interactions in the Syro-Levantine steppes, finding morphological similarities between structures across disparate regions and investigating the processes involved in their construction. More recently, he has joined the Nahrein Network and University College London project "The Environmental History of Iraq" as the PI of its Work Package 4: Deserts, through which he will expand this research into the landscape of western Iraq.
At ANEE (since October 2021), Dr. Smith is conducting Network Analyses as well as assisting in GIS and fieldwork practicalities for Team 3. As such, he is a key member of the institute's Tell Ya'amun Regional Archaeological Survey (TYRAS), an upcoming fieldwork project located around a significant 'tell' site in north-western Jordan.
Keywords: landscape archaeology, GIS, prehistoric Ancient Near East, nomadism and sedentism, human adaptation to climatic variation
Prof. Suzie Thomas completed a PhD in Heritage Studies at Newcastle University, UK. Suzie previously worked at the University of Helsinki firstly as University Lecturer in Museum Studies and then as Associate Professor of Cultural Heritage Studies, before moving to the University of Antwerp to take up a Professorship in Heritage Studies from September 2021. She is interested in community heritage, museum studies and issues around difficult and contested heritage. She was PI of the Academy of Finland project “SuALT: The Finnish Archaeological Finds Recording Linked Open Database”.
Thomas' research interests in community engagement with heritage relate to the goals of Team 3. She also has interests in the ethics around cultural property and curtailing the illicit trade in antiquities - a key ethical concern of ANEE and its research practices