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Department of Archaeology

Current Research Postgraduates

Ms Kristen Hopper

(email at k.a.hopper@durham.ac.uk)

Biography

I hold a BA Hons in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology from the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, and a MA (by research) in Archaeology from Durham University. I have extensive fieldwork experience in the Near East and the Caucasus and am currently assistant survey director of the Gorgan Wall Project (Iran) and the Caucasian Gates Project (Georgia). I have also worked as a surveyor and GIS specialist on the Kadhima Project (Kuwait), and the Bat Archaeological Project (Oman). My research interests include archaeological landscapes of the Near East, Caucasus, and Central Asia with a focus on later territorial empires and mobile pastoral communities, and GIS and remote sensing applications in archaeology.

I am currently undertaking a fully funded PhD as part of the ERC Project ‘Persia and its Neighbours: The Archaeology of Late Antique Imperial Power in Iran’.

Research Topic

The Archaeological Landscape of a Sasanian Frontier: Urban, rural and mobile pastoral settlement and land use in the Gorgan Plain of northeast Iran.

Abstract

My research involves the investigation of patterns of settlement and land-use associated with urban, rural, and mobile pastoral communities in the Gorgan Plain of northeast Iran. In the Sasanian period (c. AD 225-640) this landscape formed one of the northern frontiers of the empire, a frontier that was marked by the construction of the Gorgan Wall, a c. 200km long wall built in the 5th or early 6th century (Sauer et al. 2013). The impetus for its construction appears to have been the threat posed by nomadic groups such as the Hephthalites who resided in the vast steppes to the north. However, while the wall would have undoubtedly served a military function, it was likely equally as important in controlling the movement of people and goods. Its construction would have had a significant effect on local networks of movement, settlement patterns and subsistence strategies. My research aims to explore the connectivity of communities on this frontier with people and places within the empire and beyond it. 

By integrating data obtained from both modern and historical (CORONA) satellite imagery, field surveys conducted by the Gorgan Wall and Persia Projects, previously published surveys and historical and ethnographic data, I am building a picture of the long-term settlement dynamics in the region and highlighting ‘signature landscapes’ (Wilkinson 2003) related to occupation and land use between the late Iron Age and the modern period. Furthermore, I am comparing these findings to another possible frontier landscape of the Sasanian Empire, namely the Dariali Gorge in Georgia, where I have been undertaking similar investigations.

Grants

2014: British Institute of Persian Studies Research Grant (£2000) – for the workshop The Qanāt: Archaeology and Environment

2014: British Institute for the Study of Iraq Conference Grant (£1000) – for the workshop The Qanāt: Archaeology and Environment (co-grant holder Dr. Julien Charbonnier)

2014: Durham University Institute for Advanced Study Postgraduate Bursary (£500) – for the workshop The Qanāt: Archaeology and Environment

2013: European Commission ERC Research Studentship

2011: British Institute for the Study of Iraq Conference Grant – (£500) – for the conference Iraq: archaeology, cultural heritage and conflict

2011: Centre for the Study of the Ancient Mediterranean and the Near East – (£250) - for the conference Iraq: archaeology, cultural heritage and conflict

2008/2009: Haycock studentship in the Archaeology of Egypt and the Ancient Near East - £1000

British Institute of Persian Studies Travel Grant – 2007/2008 - £1000

Conference Contributions

Papers

2015: ‘’Signature landscapes’ and long-term land use in the Gorgan Plain, Iran and the Dariali Gorge, Georgia’ 7th International Conference of Student-Archaeologists Dedicated to Pitt Rivers 25 April, Iv. Javakshavili Tbilisi State University, Vardzia, Georgia.

2015: ‘Local and regional networks on the Sasanian frontier in NE Iran’ British Association of Near Eastern Archaeology Conference (BANEA) 9 Jan, SOAS/UCL.

2014: ‘Challenging Landscapes’ Landscape Archaeology Workshop - From Theory to Practice 20 November, TOPOI/Freie Universität Berlin.

2014: ‘Behind the Caucasian Gates: Landscape Survey in the Darial Pass, Georgia’ 7th International Conference of Student-Archaeologists Dedicated to Pitt Rivers 13 April, Iv. Javakshavili Tbilisi State University, Vardzia, Georgia.

2013: ‘Urban, rural and nomadic interaction: route systems associated with the Sasanian frontier’ Persia and Rum: BIPS Sasanian Conference at Rome 14 November, The British School at Rome.

2013: ‘A combination of remote sensing and close-range topographic survey at Ad-Dariz South, Sultanate of Oman’ (co-author Yasuhisa Kondo) Computer Applications in Archaeology Conference 2013 26 March, University of Western Australia, Perth.

2010: ‘Surveys and excavations on the NE Sasanian frontier, Iran’ International Congress for the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (ICAANE) 13 April, UCL.

2009: Population and Settlement Trends in Southwest Iran and Neighbouring Areas (Co-presented with Prof. T.J. Wilkinson) Ancient Iran and its neighbours: Local developments and long-range interactions in the 4th Millennium BC 27 June, Cambridge University.

Posters

2014 ‘Crossing Frontiers: Local and imperial networks on the north-east edge of the Sasanian Empire’ 3rd International Landscape Archaeology Conference 2014 17-20 September, KNIR (Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome).

Workshop/Conference Organisation

2015: ‘Late Antique Frontiers of Iran, the Caucasus, Anatolia and Iraq’ (co-organiser) BANEA Conference 7-9 January, SOAS/UCL.

2014: ‘The Qanāt: Archaeology and Environment’ (co-organiser) 17 – 19 October, Durham University. 

2011: ‘Iraq: archaeology, cultural heritage and conflict’ (co-organiser) 31 March, Durham University.

Is supervised by

Publications

Books: sections

  • Hopper, Kristen (Submitted). Investigating Mobile Pastoralist Landscapes in North East Iran: The Contribution of Remote Sensing. In New Agendas in Remote Sensing and Landscape Archaeology: Studies in Honor of Tony J. Wilkinson. Lawrence, Dan, Altaweel, Mark & Philip, Graham The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.
  • Hopper, K. & Wilkinson, T.J. (2013). Population and Settlement Trends in Southwest Iran and Neighbouring Areas. In Ancient Iran and its Neighbours: Local developments and long-range interactions in the fourth millennium BC. Petrie, C British Institute of Persian Studies Archaeological Monographs Series. Oxbow Books. 35-50.

Essays in edited volumes

  • Wilkinson,Tony, J. , Rekavandi, Hamid Omrani Hopper, Kristen, Priestman, Seth Roustaei, Kourosh & Galiatsatos, Nikolaos (2013). The Landscapes of the Gorgān Wall. In Persia's Imperial Power in Late Antiquity: The Great Wall of Gorgan and the Frontier Landscapes of Sasanian Iran. Rekavandi, Hamid Omrani Wilkinson, Tony J. Nokandeh, Jebrael & Sauer, Eberhard, W. Oxford: Oxbow Books. 24-132.

Journal papers: academic

  • Sauer, Eberhard W., Pitskhelauri,Konstantin, Hopper, Kristen, Tiliakou, Anthi, Pickard, Catriona Lawrence, Dan, Diana, Annamaria Kranioti, Elena & Shupe, Catherine (Forthcoming). Northern outpost of the Caliphate: maintaining military forces in a hostile environment (the Dariali Gorge in the Central Caucasus in Georgia). Antiquity

Research Groups

  • Landscapes of Complex Society Research Group

Research Projects

  • Gorgan Wall Project
  • Persia and its Neighbours: the Archaeology of Late Antique Imperial Power in Iran (Persia Project)

Teaching Areas

  • Student Archaeology Workshops (2013/2014)

    (2 hours/year.)
  • Tutor on Ancient Civilisations of the East (2014/2015)

    (6 hours/year.)
  • Tutor on Archaeology in Action (2014/2015)

    (8 hours/year.)