A call to remember


As Islamic State militants raze the city of Nimrud, once capital of the ancient Assyrian Empire, and destroy artifacts in the Mosul Museum, Adam T. Smith calls on all of us to redouble our efforts to study, teach, and learn about the ancient world: ” If you are shocked by ISIS’s assault on antiquity, go take an archaeology class—in person or online—and become another who can say, ‘I will remember.'”


Imperial Debris

The evocative photo that accompanies Sergei Kuznetsov piece in this week’s NYTimes Sunday Review wonderfully illustrates an instantiation of what Ann Stoler, in the title of her latest edited volume, calls “Imperial Debris”.   See Kuznetsov’s thoughtful opinion piece on the cycle of boredom and chaos that characterizes Russia’s imperial projects.


US Ambassador to Armenia visits Project ArAGATS

Heffern at Gegharot


Ambassador visits Armenian excavation site

The U.S. Ambassador to Armenia recently toured an archaeological field site in that country, spending time with co-directors Adam T. Smith, professor of anthropology and Lori Khatchadourian, assistant professor and Milstein Sesquicentennial Fellow in the Department of Near Eastern Studies.

John A. Heffern, U.S. ambassador to Armenia, visited the excavations of Project ArAGATS at Gegharot Kurgans, Gegharot Fortress and Tsaghkahovit. After his visit, he tweeted: “Nice get together tonight of @cornell archeology team, Armenia Arch Institute, World Bank, @amap, @USAIDArmenia @IDeArmenia. Great team.”

Project ArAGATS is a collaborative archaeological research program dedicated to the exploration of southern Caucasia’s rich past and the preservation of modern Armenia’s diverse cultural heritage. It was founded in 1998 by Smith and Ruben S. Badalyan of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Yerevan

Presentation at ACLS Annual Meeting in the Cornell news



At the May 2014 annual meeting of the American Council of Learned Societies, left to right: Jonathan Culler, Class of 1916 Professor of English; Lori Khatchadourian, assistant professor of Near Eastern studies; Timothy Murray, professor of comparative literature and English and director, Society for the Humanities

Archaeology and Empire

For archaeologist Lori Khatchadourian, ancient Persia offers more than just an object of cultural study: it’s also a source of political theory. In a recent talk at the American Council of Learned Societies’ annual meeting, she spoke about how ancient Persian texts and art can provide a new way of thinking about imperialism that focuses on the world of physical matter.

“The material world is implicated in the production of modern empires as well, not just the ones from the deep past where we don’t have rich archives to tell us more about them,” says Khatchadourian. “Ancient Persia’s thinkers seem to have thought hard about the relationship between political power and the material world, just as some modern philosophers and social scientists are doing today.”

Khatchadourian is an assistant professor of Near Eastern studies, a Milstein Sesquicentennial Fellow, and the recipient of a 2013 ACLS fellowship. Her ACLS project is entitled “Satrapal Condition: Archaeology and the Matter of Empire.”

Watch her talk here, (Scroll down to 3rd video, “Emerging Themes and Methods of Humanities Research”; Prof. Khatchadourian’s presentation begins at 15:47)