- 2009. AB (Anthropology) University of Chicago
- 2016. PhD (Anthropology) Harvard University
My research focuses on animal domestication, the development of complex societies, and human-environmental interactions in the ancient Near East. I am particularly interested in the long and unusual history of pigs in the region. My upcoming book, Evolution of a Taboo, explores the place of pigs in Near Eastern cultures (including Judaism and Islam) from the Paleolithic to today. In my research, I employ zooarchaeology, geometric morphometrics, stable isotopes, and quantitative analysis on animal bones recovered from archaeological sites.
I have participated in excavations in Israel, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Peru, and the United States. I have several active projects at the moment. In terms of general field-based projects, I am conducting zooarchaeological and stable isotopic analyses of animals from the prehistoric site of Tell Surezha in northern Iraq (Kurdish region), which was occupied during the transition from egalitarian agricultural communities to ranked societies. I am also collaborating with the Galilee Prehistory Project on excavations at Horvat Duvshan in Israel.
I also have a number of “pig-based” projects: In collaboration with researchers at the University of Kiel (Germany), I am studying the husbandry practices of pigs in the Iron Age Levant and Anatolia. This is to examine how livestock management strategies impact domestic animal evolution and population turnovers. I am also investigating the role of pig husbandry and pork provisioning in Roman and Byzantine cities and military camps in the Levant, using a combined zooarchaeological, isotopic, and archaeogenetics approach. Finally, I am collaborating with the Ortiz Lab at MIT and researchers at the Weizmann Institute in Israel to study the effects of domestication on bone microstructure in pigs.
At MIT, I teach three classes: 3.986 (Introduction to Archaeology), 3.993 (Archaeology of the Middle East), and 3.987 (Human Evolution). I also lead an informal reading group, Anthropological Archaeology Reading Group (AARG), which is open to interested students.