The Virtual World Project: Touring The Ancient World


Figure 1. The entry page of the Virtual World Project website.

By: Ronald A. Simkins and Nicolae Roddy, Creighton University

There is nothing quite like teaching at an archaeological site, where ancient remains almost speak out to students as witnesses of the past. Both authors have led study tours in Israel, taking students to archaeological sites like Tel Dan, Bethsaida, Megiddo, Arad, Beer-sheba, and others, lecturing there among the stones on archaeology, history, and the Bible. As we would walk through the architectural remains, our students would experience the ancient world first hand; issues of daily life, social structure, urbanism, ecology, and industry were given a material context that the students readily grasped. Because students learn in multiple ways—there are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners—teaching on site is able to maximize the students’ learning through these multiple ways.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to replicate this experience back home in the traditional university classroom. Archaeological materials are readily available for course use but much of it is difficult and not-easily accessible for undergraduate students. Archaeological field reports are often too technical and contain too much data for students. Synthetic and popular studies offer greater accessibility, but the spatial context of the ancient archaeological site remains elusive. Photographs and slides may give a good representation of the features of a site, but for the student who has no personal experience, putting the images together into a single, holistic context is nearly impossible. The images remain at best fragmented, two-dimensional representations that lack the orientation, scale, and spatial context that one gains from first-hand experience. The Virtual World Project was created to overcome these shortcomings by bridging the gap between the traditional classroom and the immediate experience one gains from touring an archaeological site. Continue reading

Study of Early Pottery Workshops in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Near East Around 6,000 cal. BC

By: Ingmar Franz, Freiburg University, George A. Barton Fellow

The goal of my project was an in-depth survey of the literature focusing on early pottery production in the Neolithic and Early Chalcolithic periods in the Eastern Mediterranean Basin and the Near East. The well-organized Albright library provided the opportunity for me to find almost every source I needed. Discussions with the fellows at the institute were also fruitful and contributed to the success of my project. Continue reading

Prehistoric Anatolia and the Archeology of Warfare

By: Stephanie Selover, PhD Candidate, the University of Chicago


Stephanie excavating at Marj Rabba, Israel

My dissertation project centers on the study of evidence of warfare from Chalcolithic to Early Bronze Age Central and Southeastern Anatolia.  To date, research on the subject of warfare in the Ancient Near East in general and Anatolia in particular has been largely limited to overviews that include the entirety of the Ancient Near East and go into few details.  These include Roper’s “Evidence of Warfare in the Near East from 10,000-3,400 BC (1975), Ferrill’s The Origins of War (1985), Hamblin’s Warfare in the Ancient Near East to 1600 BC (2006) and Gat’s War in Human Civilization (2006).  Indeed, many such reviews of ancient warfare compile all of human existence from the Upper Paleolithic (100,000 BC) to the start of the Late Bronze Age (1300 BC) into a single chapter (e.g. Ferrill 1985: Chapter 2; Hackett 1989: Chapter 1).  Commonly, these studies lead off with the assumption that the origins of warfare start at some point in the ancient Near East then spread elsewhere (Ferrill 1985, Kelly 2000: 2; Vencl 1984).  Continue reading

Ulucak: A Prehistoric Mound in Aegean Turkey

Özlem Çevik (Archaeology Dept., University of Thrace, Edirne, Turkey) and Çiler Çilingiroğlu (Dept of Protohistory and Near Eastern Archaeology, Izmir, Turkey)

Fig 1: General view of Ulucak mound.

Fig 1: General view of Ulucak mound.

Ulucak is a settlement mound located 25 km east of İzmir, in western Turkey (Fig. 1). The mound contains cultural accumulations spanning periods from the Early Neolithic to Late Roman-Early Byzantine periods. The lengthy sequence at Ulucak allows observations on long-term continuities and discontinuities in the settlement layout, architecture, material culture, and subsistence patterns in Aegean Turkey over many millennia.

The start of excavations at Ulucak encouraged an increasing focus on Neolithic culture in western Turkey as the earliest occupation at the site is significant for understanding the neolithization mechanisms in the region. The early farming communities of Ulucak occupied the site from around 6750 to 5700/5600 cal BCE, thus providing us with valuable information on multiple aspects of their daily lives and cultural changes through time. Continue reading