Institute of Archaeology

Dr Rachael Sparks

Dr Rachael Sparks

Associate Professor

Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square

Institute of Archaeology

Joined UCL
1st Oct 2005

Research summary

Recent conference papers

Transforming Canaan: The Material Culture of Contact, 7th ICAANE 2010, Institute of Archaeology UCL.

Abstract: The material culture of the MB Levant undergoes a number of  transformations, not the least of which involves the introduction of new forms of cultural expression. Many of these had their origin in Egyptian culture, encouraged by contacts made through trade and other means, including Canaanite settlement in the eastern Delta. This paper explores the influence Egyptian culture had on that of the southern Levant, and how these influences were selectively adopted and adapted by consumers. It focuses particularly on whether the ways in which certain object types common to both cultures are interpreted and utilised in a culturally specific fashion, including scarabs and cosmetic vessels, and how this process changes over the course of the  Bronze Age. This will lead to a better understanding of how object choice may be used to construct and mediate group identity.

Rewriting the Script: Decoding the Textual Experience in the Bronze Age Levant. Writing as Material Practice, Institute of Archaeology, UCL, 16th May 2009.

Object Handling in the Classroom: Strategies for Success. Object-based Learning in Higher Education, UCL, 2nd April 2009.

Contextualising Scarab and Seal Use in the Bronze Age Levant. The Ancient Levant, Institute of Archaeology UCL, 17th May 2008

Teaching summary

Institute of Archaeology Courses

Course co-ordinator ARCL1011 Texts in Archaeology; guest lecturer in ARCL 2027: Interpreting Archaeological Data; G120B: Approaches to Artefact Studies; G148: Collections Management and Care; G202 Mediterranean World: G155: Issues in the Archaeology of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East.

Area of specialism: the archaeology of the Bronze and Iron Age Levant; interactions between Egypt and the Levant; material culture studies; ancient identities; object-based learning.


Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), ATQ07 - Holder of a PGCE in higher education, secondary edu, further edu, life long lear |
University College London
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), Postgraduate Certificate | 2009
University of Sydney
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1999
University of Sydney
First Degree, Bachelor of Arts (Honours) | 1990


Originally from Australia, Dr Sparks did her doctorate at the University of Sydney on the stone vessel industries of the Bronze Age Levant. Since completing her doctorate in 1998, she has worked in the UK as Curator of the Petrie Palestinian Collection (UCL), and on the South Sudanese ethnographic collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford.

In 2005 she moved back to London to take up the post of Keeper of Collections and lecturer at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL. Since that time she has curated a major exhibition on

Flinders Petrie's work in British Mandate Palastine at the Brunei Gallery, and created the A.G. Leventis Gallery of Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean on the ground floor of the Institute of Archaeology.

Dr Sparks has also worked as object registrar and excavator on a number of sites in the Middle East, including Pella, Teleilat Ghassul, Petra and Gharandal. Her main research

interests are the archaeology of the Mandate period, cultural interaction between Egypt and the Levant, and Canaanite material culture.