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Neubauer Collegium

The Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society is a University of Chicago center for advanced research that seeks to create new communities of inquiry. Through faculty research projects, a global fellows initiative, and exhibitions, the Neubauer Collegium explores novel approaches to complex human questions at the University of Chicago and beyond. Programs sponsored recently in which archaeologists have been involved are listed below.


Of particular interest to archaeologists are these recent projects:


Genomes, Migrations, and Culture in the Early Civilizations of the Middle East. (2021-2023). This interdisciplinary collaboration between archaeologists and geneticists addresses the question: how can ancient DNA results deepen our understanding of population movements and cultural change? It focuses on ancient DNA from Bronze Age peoples of the Near East, building upon the recent revolution in ancient DNA analysis.

Invisible Landscapes.  (2020-2023) This project addresses the issue of how archaeologists can visualize, document, and understand human manipulations of the environment that they can't see. It represents a collaboration between archaeologists and other scholars from several disciplines and countries, as well as architects and artists.


Economic Analysis of Ancient Trade: The Case of the Old Assyrian Merchants of the 19th Century BCE. This project (2015-2018) brought together economists and specialists on the ancient world to investigate the applicability to ancient trade of the mathematical and computational methods employed by economists to study modern trade. Scholars have long debated whether this kind of entrepreneurial, profit-oriented trade was the norm or an exception in ancient times. The Economic Analysis of Ancient Trade project was the first attempt to use a comprehensive, interdisciplinary set of ideas and methods to study the actual mechanisms and dynamics of the trade process.


The Past for Sale: New Approaches to the Study of Archaeological Looting. This project (2014-2017) brought together archaeologists, anthropologists, art historians, social scientists, public policy experts, and legal scholars, in the effort to spur new theorizing and policy thinking on one of the most intractable problems facing those who care about culture: how to stem the worldwide epidemic of looting of archaeological sites and shrines. It sponsors visiting fellows and offers a variety of resources and links.

Imperial Interstices: Agents of Eurasian Interaction in Late Antiquity. This project (2016–2017) aimed to advance the nascent field of premodern global history by convening discussions among archaeologists, philologists, and premodern historians who specialize in civilizational spheres on both sides of the Eurasian landmass. A series of three interlinked workshops refocused scholarship on the places in between the East and West Asian empires of late antiquity (200-800 CE) rather than on the empires themselves. Through careful analysis of these interstitial societies, the project upended traditional notions of the Silk Road, which regard the regions as passive highways without relevant civilizations of their own. 


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