Anke Marsh

The palaeoecology of environmental change, subsistence and sustainability in the Fertile Crescent during the Mid to Late Holocene

For many years, the transition between the EBA to the MBA was considered a period of decline and, in some cases, collapse. This view, however, is changing, as more evidence emerges of sites, which persist through this period of increasing aridity, and of others which actually expand. There is also a realisation that much of what is viewed as ‘collapse’ is better seen as ‘transitions’ into new economic modes, that the increasing aridity has different impacts across the region, and that human decision making plays an important role in the sustainability of sites.

This research project focuses on three sites, Sidon (Lebanon), Hirbemerdon Tepe (SE Anatolia) and Bakr Awa (Kurdish Iraq), all located on the outer parts of the Fertile Crescent. Geoarchaeological and phytolith analyses and data are used in order to determine the impact of increasing aridity in the local areas as well as elucidate on adaptation and decision making during this period of changing climate, especially agricultural strategies and resource use and management.

Funding organisation

  • Arts and Humanities Research Council


 Educational background

  • BA (Hons), Archaeology and History, Birkbeck College, University of London, 2005

    MSc Palaeoecology of Human Environments, Institute of Archaeology, UCL, 2007

2012 (in press), Altaweel, M., A. Marsh, S. Mühl, O. Nieuwenhuyse, K. Radner, K. Rasheed, and S.A. Saber, New Investigations in the Environment, History, and Archaeology of the Iraqi Hilly Flanks: Shahrizor Survey Project 2009-2011, Iraq

2012 (under review), Laneri N., M. Schwartz, J. Ur, R. Berthon, A. D'Agostino, M. M. Hald and A. Marsh, The Hirbemerdon Tepe Archaeological Project: A northern Mesopotamian ceremonial site and its region during the Middle Bronze Age, American Journal of Archaeology

2011, D de Moulins and A Marsh, Sidon: plant remains from the Middle Bronze Age, Archaeology and History in the Lebanon, 34/35, 236-258

2011, T Matney, T Greenfield, B Hartenberger, C Jalbrzikowski, K Köroglu, J MacGinnis, A Marsh, MW Monroe, M Rosenzweig, K Sauer, and D Wicke, Excavations at Ziyaret Tepe, Diyarbakir province,

Turkey, 2009-2010 seasons, Anatolica XXXVII, 2011, 67-114

2007, Rivera-Collazo, I and Marsh-Cross, A, A micromorphological analysis of the floor feature units YA-YB. Punta Candelero, Puerto Rico. Preliminary Results. Report presented to the project director for Punta Candelero Project and included in the final report presented to the Council of Terrestrial Archaeology of Puerto Rico


Exploring the Shahrizor Plain: New research in Iraqi Kurdistan, Institute of Archaeology (December 2011)‘Environmental and geomorphological research in the Shahrizor’ (co-presented with Dr Mark Altaweel)

Socio-environmental dynamics over the last 12,000 years: the creation of landscapes (open workshop), Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (April 2011) ‘Modelling sustainability: The Near East in Transition’, a talk given in the ‘Collapse or continuity? Environment and development in Bronze Age landscapes’ session

Graduate Student conference, Institute of Archaeology, UCL (May 2008) ‘Diatom analysis, environmental change and land use in central Sicily’

Theoretical Archaeology Group conference, Sheffield University (December 2005)‘Racism in the archaeological record: Lessons for the modern world’, a talk given in the ‘An eternal conflict? Archaeology and social responsibility in the post-Iraq world’ session (invited speaker)

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