Institute of Archaeology


AHRC award for research on radical death and early state formation

1 February 2018

David Wengrow and Brenna Hassett have been awarded AHRC funding for their four-year project on Radical Death and Early State Formation in the Ancient Near East.

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Using new evidence from the Early Bronze Age graves of Başur Höyük, on the Upper Tigris, the project will examine how ritual killing was implicated in the political transformations of the third millennium BC.

The basis for this study is an original analysis of human remains from the site's funerary record, which includes evidence for sacrifice and mass burial. Stable isotope analysis, aDNA, spatial modelling, and osteological techniques will be employed to extract the maximum information from this unique dataset. The findings from Başur Höyük will be interpreted through comparison with cases of orchestrated killing elsewhere, including not just the famous Royal Tombs of Ur, but also instances from early polities in Africa, East Asia, and the Americas.

UCL's partners on this project, which will start later this year, will include Suzanne Pilaar Birch of the University of Georgia, Athens; Ian Barnes and Selina Brace of the Natural History Museum; and Haluk Sağlamtimur of Ege University.

The AHRC funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects including history, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, languages, design, heritage, performing arts which investigate human interactions, our historical past and the evolution of identities over time.  

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