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Western Eurasia

Significance

Western Eurasia has the longest history of archaeology in the world. For over a million years humans have lived in this region, which offers the world's earliest evidence for agriculture and is the source of plants and animals that supply much of the world's food today. Western Eurasia also provides us with venerable examples of some of the world’s first expressions of metropolitan settlements and societies, often integrated within centrally governed polities. This region likewise illustrates both positive and negative consequences of long-term interactions between societies and the environment, along with spectacular instances of the dissolution of complex societies.

Current and future directions

ASU archaeologists investigate Pleistocene human ecology and evolution; the origin and spread of agricultural economies; and the dynamics of ancient urbanized and state-level societies in the Near East and Europe from a wide variety of geographic and topical perspectives. Current research on human evolution is focusing on new approaches to human ecology and the coevolution of culture and biology, especially during the Late Pleistocene, which witnesses the disappearance of Neanderthals and the spread of modern humans across the region. Agriculture not only revolutionized human subsistence, but transformed the relationship between society and natural environment. New technologies like GIS and computational modeling are being applied to studies of socioecological dynamics that recursively transformed landscapes and the societies that inhabited them. This research is leading to new insights into the long-term consequences of human decisions today. Ongoing archaeological research is also improving our understanding of the drivers of the repeated emergence and collapse of cities, states and empires throughout this region. This work has direct implication for the long-term environmental, social and political sustainability of the globally interconnected urban society of today's world.

School strengths

ASU has exceptional diverse expertise in the archaeology of western Eurasia. Michael Barton studies Pleistocene and Holocene hunter-gatherers in Spain and Jordan. Research on the origins of food production and emergence of village life in Europe is carried out by Barton, Anick Coudart and Kostalena Michelaki. Laura Popova studies nomadic societies that roamed the steppes of eastern Europe. Sander van der Leeuw's research includes technology, innovation and human impacts in late prehistoric societies of western Europe. Nancy Serwint studies coroplastic art, religious practices and gender in the late Classical world of the eastern Mediterranean.

Bioarchaeological studies profile community health and social identity in the Mediterranean and Europe. Jane Buikstra guides a variety of research efforts around the Mediterranean.Brenda Baker has excavated bioarchaeological and mortuary evidence illuminating the early kingdoms of Egypt, the Sudan and Cyprus.

Partnerships

ASU archaeological research in western Eurasia features a variety of active collaborations with leading universities in Spain and Jordan, major universities and the CNRS in France, the American Schools of Oriental Research (through the American Center of Oriental Research), Amman, the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute (Nicosia), the American Research Center in Egypt and the American School of Classical Studies, Athens. 

Key school archaeology faculty

Brenda J. Baker, Associate Professor, School of Human Evolution and Social Change

Michael Barton, Professor, School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Director, Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity
Affiliated Faculty, Center for Evolution and Medicine

Jane Buikstra, Regents' Professor, School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Founding Director, Center for Bioarchaeological Research

Anick Coudart, Research Professor, School of Human Evolution and Social Change

Konstantina-Eleni (Kostalena) Michelaki, Associate Professor, School of Human Evolution and Social Change

Sander van der Leeuw, Foundation Professor, School of Human Evolution and Social Change & School of Sustainability
Distinguished Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Institute of Sustainability
Director, Center for Biosocial Complex Systems, ASU-Santa Fe Institute
Co-Chair, Complex Adaptive Systems @ASU

Other key school faculty

William Kimbel, Virginia M. Ullman Professor of Natural History and the Environment, School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Director, Institute of Human Origins

Other key ASU faculty

Laura Popova

Laura Popova, Faculty Chair and Honors Faculty Fellow, Barrett, the Honors College

Nancy Serwint

Nancy Serwint, Associate Professor, School of Art