Current Research

Megan Daniels, Ph.D., Classical Archaeology

Burgaz Harbors Project

The Burgaz Harbors Project is run by Elizabeth Greene (Brock University) and Justin Leidwanger (Stanford University) in collaboration with Numan Tuna (Middle East Technical University - METU) and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology. The METU team has been conducting excavations of the terrestrial site of Burgaz (thought to be the early settlement of Knidos) since 1993, uncovering evidence of occupation from the Geometric to the early Hellenistic periods. Since 2011, exploration and excavation of the harbour complexes has taken place, with one of the primary goals being to understand the integration of the town within its local, regional, and interregional maritime economies.
My work at Burgaz includes managing all of the incoming finds from their desalinization to drying, sorting, and cataloguing, to photography and drawing. Additionally, I conduct finer-grained examinations of pottery focusing on distinguishing fabric groups through visual and XRF analyses. I developed a reference collection from our assemblages of different local fabrics which will aid us in sorting incoming finds according to fabric groups and allow for quantification to understand the relative ratios of local to imported fabrics at Burgaz. Furthermore, I worked with a Bruker portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) machine to measure and record the elemental profiles of the various fabric groups. This will allow us to test the accuracy of visible identifications and to build up a “library”, so to speak, of chemical profiles of local fabrics. Overall, such analyses will contribute assessing the changing maritime connections of an Aegean harbor settlement at the local, regional, and interregional scales.

Homo Migrans: Modelling Migration and Mobility in the Archaeological Record

Human history is created, in large part, through movement: whether in short fits or gradual developments, as a singular event or in multiple stages, the story of our origins is one of dispersal, displacement, and diaspora. Yet this story is dauntingly complex. To quote Timothy Earle and Clive Gamble (“Migration” in Deep History, 2011: 192): “Even with the first settlement of regions, new migrations continued often at even greater rates, displacing earlier settlers, forcing removals and relocations, creating regional movements of marriage partners and workers, funnelling vast populations through colonial and postcolonial global economies, and creating diverse, intermingled diasporas.” This whirlwind explanation, encompassing prehistory to modern-day, captures well the blurriness not only of migrations themselves, but also their concomitant causes and effects. Certainly the matter of migration and its hard-to-predict consequences is on the minds of modern governments worldwide given the political, social, and economic turmoil in multiple areas around the globe.

With its propensity to model and account for long-term social development, archaeology has much to offer to discourses on human mobility and migration, particularly when used alongside genetics, historical linguistics, paleoclimatology, and demographic modeling. Nowadays, the study of migration in human history is moving from serving as an explanatory tool to account for cultural change to a phenomenon worthy of study in itself, which involves characterizing the complex interweavings of local and global processes of movement with indigenous developments. Theoretical advances in the social sciences, such as social network theory, have further bolstered movements towards finding more dynamic models and sophisticated theories of human migration in the archaeological record.

The 11th IEMA Visiting Scholars Conference will bring together researchers working on human movements in the archaeological record, who are operating at differing scales and employing diverse methodologies, to discuss the most fruitful ways to advance the study of mobility and migration. This conference will focus on how we study human mobility holistically, from scientific and computational approaches, to texts and objects, to landscapes and environments. Above all, it aims to suggest new methods for integrating these various scales and methodologies, utilizing the unique backdrops of the Mediterranean and European worlds, to produce robust studies that can enable theorizing comparisons on migration and mobility across time and space.

Accompanying this conference will be a 2018 Spring Semester graduate seminar, as well as an edited volume through SUNY Press.

Past Research

The Zita Project in the Archaeology, Anthropology, and Ethnography of Southern Tunisia

The Zita Project focuses on survey and excavation of an urban mound in southern Tunisia near the modern city of Zarzis, on an ancient trade route from Carthage to Tripoli. The site contains a Roman forum as well as a Carthaginian tophet. Investigations of these two areas commenced in August 2013. My role in this project includes assisting in excavations of the tophet and sorting and dating pottery from systematic survey and excavations.

Dissertation Project: "The Queen of Heaven and a Goddess for All the People: Religion, Cultural Evolution, and Social Development in the Iron Age Mediterranean"

In this dissertation I argue that shared mythical and religious languages concerning divine sovereignty provided important cross-cultural institutional connections for Mediterranean peoples in the early stages of state-formation; as state structures and state ideologies coalesced, however, these religious institutions expressed through myth and ritual acquired new meanings appropriate to the egalitarian structures of the Greek city-states. I use approaches from evolutionary psychology, sociology, and economics combined with literary and archaeological evidence of sanctuaries from roughly the eighth-sixth centuries BCE to demonstrate the role religion plays in burgeoning, cross-cultural societies, as it both reflects and shapes shared worldviews and ideologies. Through this dissertation I aim to address certain problems within the scholarship of ancient Mediterranean religions, namely (a) the tendency to examine cults to specific gods without addressing the broader social importance of shared religious worldviews amongst Mediterranean peoples; and (b) the primacy ascribed to the polis (city-state) in providing the fundamental apparatus through which to understand Mediterranean religion, without considering alternative social structures.