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

My research Interests include:

  • Material culture of the Bronze and Iron Age Levant

  • Cultural interaction between Egypt and the Levant
  • The archaeology of empire
  • Archaeology during the British Mandate in Palestine, with a particular focus on the work of Flinders Petrie and Kathleen Kenyon.

Recent Conference Papers

2018: “The Necessities of Death? Funerary Patterns and Practice in the Bronze Age Intramural Burials of Tell el-‘Ajjul Area G”, 11th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, 5 April 2018.

2016:“Historical Methods and Mishaps: Flinders Petrie’s Views on Interconnected ‘Ajjul and its place in the ‘Middle Sea’, Palästina und das Mittelmeer, Bibilisch-Archäologisches Institut, Erbacher Hof, Mainz, 11 December 2016.

2015: “Jericho in the Media”, Digging Up Jericho: Past, Present and Future, UCL Institute of Archaeology, London, 29 June 2015.

2012: “Evaluating Past Practice as a Guide to Future Use: the Many Degrees of Provenance in Petrie’s Palestinian Excavations, American Schools of Oriental Research Annual Meeting, History of Archaeology Session, 17th November 2012.

2012: “Publicising Petrie: Financing Fieldwork in British Mandate Palestine (1926-1938)”, Financing Archaeology, UCL Institute of Archaeology, London, 2nd May 2012.

2010: “Transforming Canaan: The Material Culture of Contact”, 7th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East,  London, 12th to 16th April 2010.

2009: "Re-writing the Script: Decoding the Textual Experience in the Bronze Age Levant", Writing as Material Practice: Surface, Substance and Medium. Institute of Archaeology UCL, 15-17th May 2009.

2009: "Object Handling in the Classroom: Strategires for Success", Object-based Learning in Higher Education, University College London, 2nd April 2009.

2008: Contextualizing Scarab and Seal Use in the Bronze Age Levant,         

The Ancient Levant, Institute of Archaeology UCL, 17th May 2008.

2006: A Future for the Past: Sir Flinders Petrie, the Petrie Palestinian Collection, a forthcoming exhibition, Archaeology in Conflict, Institute of Archaeology, UCL, 9th November 2006.

2005: Flinders Petrie in Palestine 1926-1938: The Impact of Field Practices on Object Recovery, British Association of Near Eastern Archaeology Annual Conference, University of Oxford, 7th January 2005.

2002: “Gypsum Vessel Workshops in the Jordan Valley”, The Jordan Valley in the Bronze and Iron Ages, British Museum, London, 4th November 2002.

2002: “Canaan in Egypt. Archaeological Evidence for a Social Phenomenon”,The Social Context of Technological Change II - Egypt and the Near East 1650-1150 B.C., Cambridge, 4-6 September 2002.

2000: “The Contribution of Luxury Stone Vessels to an Understanding of Relations Between Egypt and the Near East during the Bronze Age: Diplomatic Gifts, Dowries, Rewards and Booty”, Institute of Archaeology, University College London, December, 2000.

2000. “Stone Vessel Workshops in the Levant: Luxury Products of a Cosmpolitan Age”, The Social Context of Technological Change - Egypt and the Near East 1650-1550 B.C., Oxford, 12-14 September 2000.

Teaching summary

Module co-ordinator for ARCL0009 Texts in Archaeology.

Guest lecturer in ARCL0171: Working with Artefacts and Assemblages; ARCL0118: Collections Management and Care; ARCL0157 The Archaeology of Egypt and the Middle East: A Comparative Approach; ARCL0220 Current Issues in the Archaeology of the Nile Valley.


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


I am specialist in Near Eastern Archaeology, focusing on the second and first millennia BCE. I completed my doctorate at the University of Sydney in 1998 on the stone vessel industries of the Bronze Age Levant. I have worked as object registrar and field excavator on various sites in Jordan, including Pella,Teleilat Ghassul, Petra and Gharandal, as well as working on digs in the UK, Spain, Australia and Ethiopia.

In 1999 I came to work at the UCL Institute of Archaeology as curator of the Petrie Palestinian Collection. From 2003 to 2005 I was a project researcher at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, investigating their South Sudanese ethnographic collections, before returning UCL to take up the post of Lecturer and Keeper of the Institute of Archaeology Collections.

In 2007 I curated a major exhibition on Flinders Petrie's work in British Mandate Palestine at the Brunei Gallery in London; I later curated the permanent exhibition in the Institute's A.G. Leventis Gallery of Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean, which is located on the ground floor of the Institute, adjacent to the foyer.

Outside the Institute, I am currently co-editor of the journal Strata, and a member of the editorial board of the journal Levant. I'm also part of the Steering Committee for the British Association of Near Eastern Archaeology (BANEA), and a Trustee for both the Council for British Research in the Levant (CBRL), and the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society (AIAS).