Prof Graham Philip, MA, PhD
After a PhD at Edinburgh University (1988), I spent nine months in Baghdad before moving to Jordan to become Assistant Director of the British Institute for at Amman for Archaeology and History (1989-92). I was briefly a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Archaeology University College, London before taking up a lectureship at Durham in January 1994.
My research interests fall into three main areas: landscape archaeology, artefact studies, and the attempts to understand nature of early complex societies. All of these themes are explored in the context of my period/region interests which are focused upon the later Prehistory and Bronze Ages of the Middle East.
My interests centre upon long-term aspects of human-environment interaction in the Middle East. From 1999-2010, in co-operation with the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums of Syria, I directed a multi-period landscape project in the Orontes Valley around the city of Homs. By examining two distinct environmental zones, were able to assess the impact of key economic and political developments in adjacent, but contrasting landscapes. In particular we are beginning to understand the differences between patterns of development in the prime agricultural zones, where settlement is dominated by mounded tell sites, and "non-optimal" zones, where we have evidence for two main episodes of sedentary activity - the 4th-3rd millennia BC, and the Graeco-Roman-Islamic period: each is associated with quite distinct landscape signatures. In co-operation with Dr Danny Donoghue (Geography) the project has pioneered the use of declassified 1960s CORONA space photography and recent IKONOS high resolution satellite imagery for archaeological prospection and the investigation of past landscapes.
With the aid of a grant awarded by the Leverhulme Trust (2007-10) The Vanishing Landscape of Syria project has assessed the extent to which the patterns observed in the survey area described above are representative of settlement structures and landuse patterns over a wider area of western Syria. This project is currently being prepared for publication. Starting in 2012, the evidence from the Homs region is contributing to an international collaboration funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Computational Research on the Ancient Near East: An Archaeological Data Integration, Simulation, and 3-D Visualization Initiative CRANE ), which seeks to combine data from surveys undertaken in the Orontes basin over the past two decades, within a single analytical framework. The broad overview that the project will provide, will allow researchers to identify both large-scale trends and local peculiarities. As part of this project the Durham team will collect new palaeoenvironmental evidence, data on ceramic technology and exchange, and will use Ottoman tax records to better understand the economic potential of different parts of the survey area.
The Fragile Crescent
I am co-investigator on this AHRC funded project with Prof. Danny Donoghue, Geography and PI Prof. Tony Wilkinson. The project uses satellite imagery, GIS and archaeological survey data to chart long-term changes in settlement, land-use and social organization across northern Mesopotamia, and northern and western Syria during the Bronze Age (ca. 3500-1000 BC). A major paper has appeared in Levant 44/2 (2012) with others in preparation.
The nature of early complex societies
Most of the language employed to discuss social and economic complexity in the Ancient Near East draws upon concepts relevant to the developed urban societies of ancient Mesopotamia. These terms tend, however, play down the diversity of developmental sequences elsewhere in the Middle East, such as western Syria and Palestine. These issues are being explored through the analysis and publication of 4th-3rd millennium BC sequences at two sites located in classic ‘lowland basin’ settings, Tell esh-Shuna in the north Jordan Valley and Tell Nebi Mend in the Orontes Valley. Work to date suggests that while neither region conforms to models of settlement and economic organization apparent in “Greater Mesopotamia”, there were very clear differences between developments in the two valley systems. Thus the notion of “diverse routes to complexity” may provide a valuable corrective to traditional interpretations.
A new dimension has been added to this research by my involvement since 2012 in the Invisible Dead Project (Templeton Foundation). The project seeks to examine long term patterns in burial data from the Levant from the Ceramic Neolithic to the coming of Christianity, and to begin to ask the ‘big’ questions that are often lost among the detail of studies centred-upon individual sites, regions or periods.
Having researched ancient metalwork for many years, I have developed a keen interest in the social and economic dimensions of material culture and its deployment in the negotiation of status and identity, as an aspect of social reproduction, and the contexts within which the acquisition, production and deployment of artefactual materials are situated. Aspects of this will be explored through the Invisible Dead project by mapping the spatial, temporal and ideological dimensions of the use of material culture in burial contexts.
A second strand of research is a petrographic and chemical analysis of Neolithic to Iron Age pottery from surveys around Homs. The aim is to examine:
1. patterns of ceramic exchange within the region at different points in time;
2. long-term change in potting practices and technology, and their relationship to social and economic developments;
3. the relationship between patterns emerging from the Homs data, and trends in ceramic change at a Levant-wide level.
Research Students who have recently been awarded their doctorates include:
Naaser al-Jahwari (2008) Settlement in the Oman Peninsula from the 4th millennium BC through the Islamic period
Matthew Whincop (2008) Iron Age Ceramics from Syria: a study of networks and regions
Andy Shaw (2009)The Palaeolithic Settlement History of Syria as contained in the Terrace Deposits of Major River Systems
Jennie Bradbury (2011) Landscapes of Burial? The Homs Basalts, Syria in the 4th-3rd Millennia BC.
William Cooney (2011) Egypt's encounter with the West: Race, Culture and Identity
Dan Lawrence (2012) Early Urbanism in the Northern Fertile Crescent: A Comparison of Regional Settlement Trajectories and Millennial Landscape Change
- Ancient metallurgy and metalwork
- Ancient Middle East
- Application of remote sensing to archaeology
- Archaeological survey
- Archaeology of Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, Cyprus, Israel, Palestinian territories
- Archaeology of the East Mediterranean (Prehistory and Bronze Age)
Indicators of Esteem
- 2008: Trustee: Council for British Research in the Levant:
- 2007: Hon. Editor of journal Levant: Assumed the role of Hon. Editor of Levant, the journal of the Council for British Research in the Levant in December 2007.
- 2006: Member, Executive and Steering Committee of European Science Foundation project Associated Regional Chronologies of the Ancient Near East:
- Carter, R.A & Philip, G (2010). Beyond the Ubaid: Transformation and Integration in the Late Prehistoric Societies of the Middle East. Oriental Institute Publications. Chicago: The Oriental Institute.
- Beck, Anthony R. & Philip, Graham (2013). The Archaeological Exploitation of Declassified Satellite Photography in Semi-arid Environments. In Archaeology from Historical Aerial and Satellite Archives. Hanson, William S. & Oltean, Ioana, A. Springer. 261-278.
- Bradbury, J & Philip, G (2011). The World Beyond Tells: Pre-classical activity in the basalt landscape of the Homs region, Syria. In Pierres levées, stèles anthropomorphes et dolmens. Standing stones, anthropomorphic stelae and dolmens. Steimer-Herbert, T. & Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée Jean Pouilloux (Lyon, France) Oxford: Archaeopress. 2317: 169-180.
Edited works: conference proceedings
- Galiatsatos, N., Wilkinson, T.J., Donoghue, D.N.M. & Philip, G. (2009). The Fragile Crescent Project (FCP): Analysis of Settlement Landscapes Using Satellite Imagery. CAA 2009: Making history interactive, Williamsburg, Virginia, USA.
- Philip, G. (2008). Natural and cultural aspects of the development of the marl landscape east of Lake Qatina during the Bronze and Iron Ages. Urban and Natural Landscapes of an Ancient Syrian Capital. Proceedings of the International Conference held in Udine, 9-11 December 2004, Udine, Forum Editrice.
Edited works: contributions
- Philip, G (2011). The later prehistory of the southern Levant: issues of practice and context. In Culture, Chronology and the Chalcolithic: Theory and Transition. Rowan, Y.M. & Lovell, J.L. Oxford: CBRL Monographs. Levant Supplementary Series 9: 192-209.
- Carter, R.A & Philip, G (2010). Deconstructing the Ubaid. In Beyond the Ubaid: Transformation and Integration in the Late Prehistoric Societies of the Middle East. Carter, R.A & Philip, G Chicago: The Oriental Institute. 1-22.
- Rutter, G. P. & Philip, G. (2008). Beyond provenance analysis: the movement of basaltic artefacts through a social landscape. In New Approaches to Old Stones: Recent Studies of Ground Stone Artifacts. Rowan, Y. & Ebeling, J. London: Equinox. 343-358.
- Philip, G. (2008). The Early Bronze Age I-III. In Jordan: An Archaeological Reader. Adams, R. London & Oakville: Equinox. 161-226.
- Philip, G. (2007). The metalwork of the Carchemish region and the development of grave repertories during the third millennium BC. In Euphrates River Valley Settlement. The Carchemish Sector in the Third Millennium BC. Levant Supplementary Series 5. Peltenburg, E.J. Oxford: Oxbow. 187-197.
Journal papers: academic
- Wilkinson, Tony J, Galiatsatos, Nikolaos, Lawrence, Dan, Ricci, Andrea, Dunford, Rob & Philip, Graham (2012). Late Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age Landscapes of Settlement and Mobility in the Middle Euphrates: A Reassessment. Levant 44(2): 139-185.
- Philip, G, Bradbury, J & Jabbur, F (2011). The Archaeology of the Homs Basalt, Syria: the main site types. Studia Orontica 9: 38-55.
- Philip, G & Bradbury, J (2010). Pre-classical activity in the basalt landscape of the Homs region, Syria: the implications for the development of “sub-optimal” zones in the Levant during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age. Levant 42(2): 136-169.
- Newson, P. Abdulkarim, M. McPhillips, S., Mills, P., Reynolds, P. & Philip, G. (2009). Landscape study of Dar es-Salaam and the basalt region north west of Homs, Syria. Berytus 51-52: 1-35.
- Galiatsatos, N., Donoghue, D.N.M. & Philip, G. (2008). High resolution elevation data derived from stereoscopic CORONA imagery with minimal ground control: an approach using IKONOS and SRTM data. Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing 74(9): 1093-1106.
- Beck, A., Philip, G., Abdulkarim, M. & Donoghue, D (2007). Evaluation of Corona and Ikonos high resolution satellite imagery for archaeological prospection in western Syria. Antiquity 81(311): 161-175.
- 'Unscrambling the 'uplands': pre-classical activity in the basalt landscape of Orontes Valley', ArchAtlas, October 2007
- The Vanishing Landscape of Syria
- 2011: ARCANE - Interregional Meeting: Western Regional G (£15086.21 from European Commission)
- 2011: Tell Nebi Medn Publication Project (£5560.00 from CBRL)
- 2008: THE EARLY HISTORY OF AN UPLAND (£6978.00 from The British Academy)
- 2007: INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE UBAID (£750.00 from The British School of Archaeology in Iraq)
- 2007: PATTERNS OF COMMUMITY INTERACTION (£4383.00 from The British Academy)
- 2007: SETTLEMENT AND LANDSCAPE DEVELOPMENT (£9700.00 from CBRL)
- 2007: THE VANISHING LANDSCAPE OF SYRIA (£85886.00 from The Leverhulme Trust)