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David Wengrow

Research Interests

  • Comparative archaeology of the Middle East, North-East Africa, and Eastern Mediterranean
  • Early state formation
  • Cognitive and evolutionary approaches to culture
  • Prehistoric art and aesthetics
  • Intellectual and social history of archaeology and anthropology

Research Directory Records

Educational Background

  • 1996 BA Honours in Archaeology and Anthropology, Oxford University
  • 1998 M.St. in World Archaeology, Oxford University
  • 2002 D.Phil., Oxford University
  • 2002 Frankfort Fellow in Near Eastern Art and Archaeology, Warburg Institute
  • 2001-4 Junior Research Fellow, Christ Church, Oxford University

Some of David's publications can be in full at https://ucl.academia.edu/DavidWengrow

David is the author of three books:

The Archaeology of Early Egypt. Social Transformations in North–East Africa, 10,000–2,650 BC. Cambridge World Archaeology Series. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2006; reprinted 2009) also translated into Spanish as:

La Arqueologia del Egipto Arcaico: Transformaciones sociales en el noreste de África [10.000–2650 a.C.]. Barcelona: Edicions Bellaterra (2007)

What Makes Civilization? The Ancient Near East & the Future of the West. Oxford: Oxford University Press (2010)

The Origins of Monsters: Image & Cognition in the First Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press (2014)

He is co–editor, with Andrew Bevan, of:

Cultures of Commodity Branding. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press (2010)

He has published many articles in scholarly journals and edited volumes, including:

'Cultural convergence in the Neolithic Vile Valley: a prehistoric perspective on Egypt's place in Africa' (with M. Dee, A. Stevenson, S Foster, and C. Bronk Ramsey).Antiquity 88: 1-17. (2014)

'An absolute chronology for early Egypt using radiocarbon dating and Bayesian modelling'. (with M. Dee, A. Shortland, A. Stevenson, F. Brock, L.G. Flink, and C. Bronk Ramsey). Proceedings of the Royal Academy A 468 (2159): 1-11. (2013)

'Archival and sacrificial economies in Bronze Age Eurasia: an interactionist approach to the hoarding of metals'. In T. Wilkinson, D.J. Bennet, and E.S. Sherratt (eds.) Interweaving Worlds. Oxford: Oxbow Books. (2011)

'Cognition, materiality and monsters: the cultural transmission of counter-intuitive forms in Bronze Age Societies'. Journal of Material Culture 16: 131-49. (2011)

’The voyages of Europa: ritual and trade in the Eastern Mediterranean, circa 2300–1850 BC’. In W. Parkinson and M. Galaty (eds.) Archaic State Interaction: the Eastern Mediterranean in the Bronzez Age. Santa Fe: School for Advanced Research. (2010)

‘Prehistories of commodity branding’. Current Anthropology 49.1 (with comments from Rick Wilk, Guillermo Algaze, Irene Winter, Danny Miller, Elena Rova, Mitchell Rothman, Douglas Holt, and author’s response). (2008)

‘The idea of prehistory in the Middle East’. In R.Layton, S.Shennan & P.Stone (eds.) A Future for Archaeology: the Past in the Present (Essays dedicated to Peter Ucko). London: UCL Press. (2006)

(with John Baines) ‘Images, human bodies, and the ritual construction of memory in late predynastic Egypt’. In S.Hendrickx et al. (eds.) Egypt at its Origins: Studies in Memory of Barbara Adams. Leuven, Monographs in Egyptian Prehistory. (2004)

‘Interpreting animal art in the prehistoric Near East’. In T.Potts, M.Roaf & D.Stein (eds.) Culture through Objects. Ancient Near Eastern Studies in Honour of P.R.S.Moorey. Griffith Institute: Oxford. (2003)

‘The evolution of simplicity: aesthetic labour and social change in the Neolithic Near East’. World Archaeology 33, 2: 168–188. (2001)

‘Rethinking cattle cults in early Egypt: towards a prehistoric perspective on the Narmer Palette’. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 11, 1: 91–104. (2001)

‘The intellectual adventure of Henri Frankfort: a missing chapter in the history of archaeological thought’. American Journal of Archaeology 103: 597–613. (1999)

‘The changing face of clay: continuity and change in the transition from village to urban life in the Near East’. Antiquity 72, 278: 783–95. (1998)

I welcome applications from prospective doctoral students who are seeking to apply archaeological data from the Middle East, North East Africa, and/or the Eastern Mediterranean regions to current issues in anthropological and social theory. I am particularly interested in research that adopts a comparative, cross-regional approach to the archaeological record. I am also keen to supervise work that explores the interface between cognition, imagery and material culture.

Current Students

  • Matilda Duncker Egyptianising funerary monuments in Victorian Britain: a social analysis (joint supervision with Jeremy Tanner)
  • Sarah Foster The Neolithic transition in the Nile Valley: modelling social networks (second supervisor Dorian Fuller)
  • Anna Panagiotou A comparative approach to the decorated pottery of the Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean (joint supervision with Cyprian Broodbank)
  • Omer Can Aksoy Military Doctrine in Pre-Islamic Arabia: An Archaeological Approach (joint supervision with Robert Carter, UCL Qatar)
  • Alice Berger Social arrangements and subsistence at Early Bronze Age Tel Bet Yerah (joint supervision with Louise Martin)
  • Kristine Franke The development of metallurgy in Upper Mesopotamia during the 3rd millennium BC (joint supervision with Thilo Rehren)
  • Carl Walsh Techniques of the body and the transmission of courtly lifestyles in the Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean (joint supervision with Andrew Bevan)

Second Supervisor

  • Simon Martin The ancient Maya State: An epigraphic approach to reconstructing a Pre-Hispanic political system (principal supervisor Elizabeth Graham)

Past Supervisions

  • Dr Mary Shepperson The use and meaning of light in ancient Mespotamian cities (second supervisor Harriet Crawford) PhD awarded 2012
  • Dr Gareth Brereton The social life of human remains: Burial rites and the accumulation of capital during the transition from Neolithic to urban societies in the Near East (second supervisor Stephen  Shennan) PhD awarded 2011
  • Dr Sada Mire Somali heritage and archaeology (second supervisor, with Andrew Reid) PhD awarded 2009
  • Dr Wendy Monkhouse Transmission of knowledge from Pharaonic to Islamic Egypt (joint supervision with John Tait) PhD awarded 2008
  • Archaeology of Early Egypt (CUP, 2006; 2009)
  • La Arqueologia del Egipto Arcaico (Bellaterra, 2007)
  • What Makes Civilization? (OUP, 2010)
  • Cultures of Commodity Branding (Left Coast, 2010)
  • The Origins of Monsters (2014)
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