Rachael Sparks

Research Interests

  • The material culture of the Levant in the Bronze and Iron Ages
  • Stone vessel production, distribution and use
  • Cultural interaction between Egypt and the Levant
  • The relationship between material culture and group identity
  • The work of Flinders Petrie in Palestine, 1926-1938

Research Directory Records

Educational Background

  • 1990: BA (University of Sydney)
  • 1999: PhD (University of Sydney)
  • 2009: Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (University College London)
  • Sparks, R.T. (2013). Re-writing the Script: Decoding the Textual Experience in the Bronze Age Levant (c.2000-1150 BC), in: R. Whitehouse and K. Piquette (eds), Writing as Material Practice: Surface, Substance and Medium, Ubiquity Press.
  • Sparks, R.T. (2013). Publicising Petrie: Financing Fieldwork in British Mandate Palestine 1926-1938’. Present Pasts 5(1):2, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/pp.56
  • Sparks, R.T. (2013). Flinders Petrie Through Word and Deed: Re-evaluating Petrie's Field Techniques and their Impact on Object Recovery in British Mandate Palestine, Palestine Exploration Quarterly 145.2, 1-17. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/0031032813Z.00000000049
  • Sparks, R.T. (2013). Fishing for Meaning: The Significance of Net Sinkers, Fishhooks, and Netting Needles in Mortuary Contexts at Tell el-'Ajjul, Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections 5.2, 33-47.
  • Sparks, R.T. (2010). Object Handling in the Archaeology Classroom: Strategies for Success, University Museums and Collections Journal 3, 191-195.
  • Sparks, R.T. (2007). Stone Vessels in the Levant. Palestine Exploration Fund Annual VIII: Maney Publishing. For a recent review, see Harrell 2009.
  • Ucko, P.J., Sparks, R.T. & S. Laidlaw (2007). A Future for the Past: Petrie’s Palestinian Collection. Essays and Exhibition Catalogue, Institute of Archaeology UCL.
  • Bourke, S.J., Sparks, R. & M. Schroeder, (2006): Pella in the Middle Bronze Age, in: P.M. Fischer (ed.), The Chronology of the Jordan Valley during the Middle and Late Bronze Ages: Pella, Tell Abu al-Kharaz, and Tell Deir ‘Alla, 9-58.
  • Sparks, R.T. (2006). 'An Artist of Exceptional Skill’: The Zande Potter Mbitim. Friends of the Pitt Rivers Museum Newsletter 55, 10-10
  • Sparks, R.T. (2006). Review of: Near Eastern Archaeology: A Reader, by S.Richards. American Journal of Archaeology Online Reviews 110(2),
  • Sparks, R.T. (2006). The Taweret Workshop: Nicholson Museum 00.107 and Related Vessels. in Sowada,K.N., Ockinga,B.G. (ed.) Egyptian Art in the Nicholson Museum, Sydney. Mediterranean Archaeology Supplement series. Sydney: Mediterranean Archaeology, 1st edition, 241-261. ISBN: 0-9580265-1-3
  • Sparks, R.T. (2005). The Lost Loci of Tell el-'Ajjul: Petrie's Area C, Palestine Exploration Quarterly 137.1, 23-29.
  • Sparks, R.T. (2004). Canaan In Egypt : Archaeological Evidence For A Social Phenomenon, in: J. Bourriau & J. Phillips (eds), Invention and Innovation. The Social Context of Technological Change 2: Egypt , the Aegean and the Near East , 1650-1150 B.C., Oxbow books, 25-54.
  • Sparks, R.T. (2003). Egyptian Stone Vessels and the Politics of Exchange (2617-1070 BC), in: R. Matthews & C. Roemer (eds), Ancient Perspectives on Egypt, UCL Press, 39-56.
  • Sparks, R.T. (2003). Strangers in a Strange Land: Egyptians in Southern Palestine during the Bronze Age, Archaeology International 2002/2003, 48-51.
  • Sparks, R.T. (2001). Stone Vessel Workshops in the Levant: Luxury Products of a Cosmpolitan Age, in: A.J. Shortland (ed.), The Social Context of Technological Change: Egypt and the Near East , 1650-1550 BC, Oxbow Books, 93-112.
  • Sparks, R.T. (2001). Palestinian Stone Vessels - The Evidence from Pella ”, Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordan VII, 259-263.
  • Sparks, R.T., (1996). Egyptian Stone Vessels in Palestine During the Second Millennium B.C. and their Impact on the Local Stone Vessel Industry", in: G. Bunnens (ed.), Trade and Interaction in the Near East , Abr-Nahrain Supplement 5, 51-66.
  • Sparks, R.T. (1994). Using Pottery to Interpret the Past: Astarte Figurines in Late Bronze Age Palestine, a Case Study, in: C.C. Sorrell and A.J. Ruys (eds), Proceedings of the International Ceramics Conference Austceram 94(International Ceramic Monographs 1.1-2), 16-21.
  • Sparks, R.T. (1991). A Series of Middle Bronze Age Bowls with Ram's-Head Handles from the Jordan Valley ", Mediterranean Archaeology 4, 45-54.

Excavation Reports

  • Bourke, S.J., Sparks , R.T., McLaren, B. Mairs, L., Meadows, J., Hikade, T. & W. Reade, 2003. Preliminary Report on the University of Sydney’s Eighteenth and Nineteenth Seasons of Excavation at Pella (Tabaqat Fahl) in 1996/97", ADAJ 47, 335-388.
  • da Costa, K., O’Hea, M. Mairs, L. Sparks, R. & P. Boland, 2002. New Light on Late Antique Pella : Sydney University Excavations in Area XXXV, 1997, ADAJ XLVI, 503-533.
  • Bourke, S.J., Lovell, J., Sparks , R. Seaton, P. Mairs, L. & J. Meadows, 2000. A Second and Third Season of Renewed Excavation by the University of Sydney at Tulaylat al-Ghassul (1995-1997), ADAJ XLIV, 37-89.
  • Bourke, S.J. Sparks, R.T. & L. Mairs, 1999. Exploring Prehistoric Pella in Jordan : the 1994-1997 Field Seasons, Mediterranean Archaeology 12,147-156.
  • Bourke, S.J., Sparks , R.T., Sowada, K.N., McLaren, P.B. & L.D. Mairs, 1998. Preliminary Report on the University of Sydney's Sixteenth and Seventeenth Season of Excavations at Pella (Tabaqat Fahl) in 1994/95, ADAJ XLII, 179-211.
  • Bourke, S.J. & R.T. Sparks, 1995. The DAJ Excavations at Pella in Jordan in 1963/64, in: S. Bourke & J-P. Descoeudres (eds), Trade, Contact and the Movement of Peoples in the Eastern Mediterranean, Studies in Honour of J. Basil Hennessy, Mediterranean Archaeology Supplement 3, 149-167.
  • Bourke, S.J., Seaton, P.L., Sparks , R.T, Lovell, J.L. & L.D. Mairs, 1995. The Urbanisation Process in the South Jordan Valley : Renewed Excavations at Teleilat Ghassul , Jordan 1994 , ADAJ XXXIX, 31-64.
  • Bourke, S.J., Sparks , R.T., Sowada, K.N. & L.D. Mairs, 1994. Preliminary Report on the University of Sydney 's Fourteenth Season of Excavations at Pella (Tabaqat Fahl) in 1992, ADAJ XXXVIII, 81-126.
  • Walmsley, A.G. et al., 1993. The Eleventh and Twelfth Seasons of Excavations at Pella (Tabaqat Fahl) 1989-1990", ADAJ XXXVII, 165-231.

Conference Papers

  • Contextualising Scarab and Seal Use in the Bronze Age Levant.  The Ancient Levant. UCL Institute of Archaeology, 17th May 2008.
  • Object Handling in the Classroom: Strategies for Success. Object-based Learning in Higher Education. UCL, 2nd April 2009.
  • Rewriting the Script: Decoding the Textual Experience in the Bronze Age Levant. Writing as Material Practice. UCL Institute of Archaeology, 16th May 2009.
  • Transforming Canaan: The Material Culture of Contact. 7th ICAANE 2010. British Museum/UCL, 12th April 2010.


  • The A.G. Leventis Gallery of Cypriot and Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology. UCL Institute of Archaeology. Ongoing.
  • A Future for the Past: Petrie's Palestinian Collection. Brunei Gallery, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London, 9th January-24th March 2007.

Current Students

  • Josef Briffa Representation, Agency and Symbolic manipulation in the Late Iron Age Southern Levant (8-6th centuries B.C.) (secondary supervisor Mark Altaweel).
  • Andrea Squitieri Stone vessels in the Near East from the Iron Age through the Hellenistic period (secondary supervisor Bill Sillar).
  • Parthiban Yahambaram Agricultural intensification in the Iron Age Levant: Causes and Consequences (secondary supervisor Louise Martin).

Completed students

  • Alice Hunt Archaeological and archaeometric analysis of Neo-Assyrian palace ware (principal supervisor Thilo Rehren)
  • Eric McCann The Ceramics of Faras, Ballana, Qustul and Qasr Ibrim: A Re-appraisal of Pottery Production and Consumption in Lower Nubia during the Meroitic Period (principal supervisor Kevin Macdonald).

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