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Durham University

Department of Archaeology

All Research Projects

Professor Tony Wilkinson

Professor in the Department of Archaeology

I was trained as a geographer at Birkbeck College, London University and at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. At McMaster my research focused upon the hydrology of overland flow in the Canadian High Arctic. From Canada I then moved into archaeology where I developed a series of regional landscape projects in the UK and the Middle East. My special interests have included landscapes of dry lands (deserts) and wetlands (specifically those submerged beneath the sea). I have undertaken landscape fieldwork in Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Iran, as well as various places in the United Kingdom.

I was formerly Assistant Director of the British Archaeological Expedition to Iraq, in Baghdad, followed by a Research Associate (Associate Professor) at the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago. From 2003 I was Lecturer and then Professor in the Department of Archaeology, University of Edinburgh, and since 2006 I have been been a Professor in the Department of Archaeology, Durham University, UK.

I was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2008.

Since 2002 I have been principal investigator of a NSF-funded project to model ancient settlements in greater Mesopotamia, and this has now appeared as a monograph published by Archaeopress (2013).

The Fragile Crescent Project (2008-2013), funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK), is a four year project aimed at analyzing settlement and landscape trends across northern Syria, southern Turkey and northwest Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Bronze Ages. In addition to supplying insights into how urbanization proceeds along multiple pathways (see PhD thesis by Dan Lawrence--2012), research by the FCP is demonstrating how archaeological sites and landscapes in the Fertile Crescent are being destroyed as a result of cycles of peace and war. The data bases produced by project researchers Emma Cunliffe and Michelle De Gruchy are also contributing to our ability to assess long term destruction of the archaeological record. Their reseearch has considerable implications for long-term cultural resource management in the region.

Although Syria is currently inaccessible because of the ongoing conflict, the Land of Carchemish Project is now in the process of being prepared for publication under the editorship of T.J. Wilkinson, E. Wilkinson and E. Peltenburg . This will appear as a forthcoming BANEA monograph (Oxbow Books).

The recently published Archaeology of the Essex Coast: Excavations at the Neolithic Site of the Stumble (East Anglian Archaeology 2012) is about to make waves in the appropriate circles. The Stumble was one of the first offshore Neolithic sites to be excavated in the UK and it results from a long-term collaboration with Essex County Council.

The AHRC-funded Gorgan Wall Project has now been published (2013) by Oxbow books (see publications).

The Gorgan Wall Project has now led to a major investigation of the frontiers of the Sasanian Empire (funded by the ERC FP7 programme). This multi-university collaboration is headed by Edinburgh University (PI Prof. Eberhard Sauer ), and Durham's contribution is to undertake the mapping of the western and northern frontiers using satellite imagery and legacy field data. As Co I of the Project, I am delighted that we are collaborating with Iranian colleagues from ICAR, and that we are in a position to throw light on a formerly rather little known topic.

I am also a collaborator on a joint AHRC-RWO joint project with Maurits Ertson (Delft University of Technology, Netherlands). This is aimed at bringing principles of human niche construction to the understanding of ancient water systems. We have published a number of articles on this and related topics in the journal Water History.

Research Groups

Research Projects

Department of Archaeology

  • Early urbanism in prehistoric Europe?: the case of the Tripillia mega-sites
  • Gorgan Wall Project
  • Land of Carchemish (Syria) Project
  • MASS Project
  • The Fragile Crescent Project (Middle East): Settlement Change during the Urban Transition

Department of Geography

  • Fragile Crescent, The: Settlement Change during the Urban Transition

Research Interests

  • Landscape Archaeology
  • Geoarchaeology
  • Archaeology of the Middle East


Authored book

Chapter in book

  • Wilkinson, T.J. (2013). Hydraulic Landscapes and Irrigation Systems of Sumer. In The Sumerian World. Crawford, H. Routledge. 33-54.
  • 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.
  • Wilkinson, Tony & J. (2012). Earth and Water: The Land of Iran. In Ancient Iran from the Air. Stronach, David & Mousavi, Ali Philipp von Zabern, Darmstadt. 12-27.
  • Wilkinson, T.J. (2012). Introduction to Geography, Climate, Topography and Hydrology. In Blackwell’s Companion to the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East. Potts, D.T. Blackwell. 1: 3-26.
  • Wilkinson, T.J. & Cunliffe, E. (2012). The Archaeological Landscape Of The Tell Beydar Region: An Update Using Satellite Imagery. In The Ancient Near East,a Life! Festschrift for Karel Van Lerberghe. Boiy,T., Bretschneider,J., Goddeeris,A. Jans, G. & Tavernier, J. Peeters: OLO Leuven. 665-679.
  • Wilkinson, T.J. (2012). Wetland Archaeology and the Role of Marshes in The Ancient Middle East. In The Oxford Handbook of Wetland Archaeology. Menotti, F. & O’Sullivan, O. Oxford University Press. 121-139
  • Wilkinson, Tony, J. & Deckers, K. (2011). Tell Brak’s Loess Section in Area TC. In Holocene Landscapes through Time in the Fertile Crescent. Deckers, K. Brepols: Turnhout. 28: 107-110
  • Wilkinson, Tony J (2010). Empire and Environment in the Northern Fertile Crescent. In Landscapes and Societies - Selected Cases. Martini I.P. & Chesworth, W. Dordrecht: Springer. 135-151.
  • Wilkinson, T.J. (2010). Environment and Long-Term Population Trends in Southwest Arabia. In The Evolution of Human Populations in Arabia. Petraglia, M.D. & Rose, J.I. Dordrecht: Springer, Science. 51-66.
  • Wilkinson, Tony J. (2010). The Tell: Social Archaeology and Territorial Space. In The Development of Pre-state Communities in the Ancient Near East: Studies in Honour of Edgar Peltenburg. Bolger, Diane & Maguire, Louise Oxbow, Oxford. 55-62
  • Wilkinson, T.J. (2009). Foreword. In Arabia Felix: An Exploration of the Archaeological History of Yemen. Alessandro de Maigret London: Stacey International. 9-20.
  • Wilkinson, T.J. (2009). Political landscapes and states in upper Mesopotamia and the Levant. In States and Landscape,. Redman, C. & Falconer, S. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. 152-62
  • Wilkinson, Tony & J. (2009). The Hinterland (of Siraf). In Siraf: History, Topography and Environment. Whitehouse, David Oxbow. 54-76
  • Wilkinson, T.J. (2008). Human dimensions of environmental change in the ancient Near East. In Proceedings of the 4th International Congress of the Ancient Near East (Berlin). Kuhne,H., Czichon, R.M. & Kreppner, F.J. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag. Vol. 1: The Reconstruction of the Environment: 3-18.
  • Wilkinson, T.J. (2007). Archaeological regions in the neighbourhood of Carchemish. In Euphrates River Valley Settlement: The Carchemish Sector in the Third Millennium BC. Peltenburg, E. Oxford: Oxbow Books.
  • Munro, R. Neil & Wilkinson, Tony J. (2007). Environment, Landscapes and Archaeology of the Yemeni Tihāmah. In Natural Resources and Cultural Connections of the Red Sea. Starkey, Janet, Starkey, Paul, & Wilkinson, Tony. J. Oxford: BAR (International Series) 1661. 5: 13-33.
  • Kouchoukos, Nicholas & Wilkinson, T.J. (2007). Landscape archaeology in Mesopotamia: past, present and future. In Settlement & Society: Essay Dedicated to Robert McCormick Adams. Stone, Elizabeth Los Angeles, California: Cotsen Institute, UCLA.
  • Wilkinson, Tony J. , Gibson, McGuire. Christiansen, John H., Widell, Magnus. Schloen, David. Kouchoukos, Nicholas., Woods, Christopher. & John Sanders, Kathy-Lee Simunich, Mark Altaweel, Jason A. Ur, Carrie Hritz, Jacob Lauinger, Tate Paulette, Jonathan Tenney, (2007). Modeling Settlement Systems in a Dynamic Environment: Case Studies from Mesopotamia. In Model Based Archaeology. Kohler, Timothy, & van der Leeuw, Sander E. Santa Fe, New Mexico: School for Advanced Research Press. 175-208.
  • Wilkinson, Tony J. (2006). From highland to desert: the organization and landscape and irrigation in southern Arabia. In Agriculture, Polity and Society: Agricultural Intensification and Socio-political organization. Stanish, Charles & Marcus, Joyce Los Angeles: UCLA: Cotsen Institute.
  • Wilkinson, T.J. (2005). Approaches to modelling archaeological site territories in the Near East. In Non-Linear Models for Archaeology and Anthropology. Beekman, C. S. & and Baden, W. W. Aldershot: Ashgate Press. 123-138.
  • Casana, Jesse & Wilkinson, T.J. (2005). Settlement and Landscapes in the Amuq Region. In The Archaeology of the Amuq Plain. Yener, K. Aslihan Chicago: Oriental Institute Publications. 131: 25-65 & 203-280.
  • Wilkinson, T.J., Ur, Jason, A. & Casana, Jesse (2004). From Nucleation to Dispersal. Trends in Settlement Pattern in the Northern Fertile Crescent. In Side-by side survey Survey,. Cherry, John & Alcock, S. Oxford: Oxbow Books. 189-205.
  • Wilkinson, T.J. (2004). Off-site archaeology in the area of Mashkan-Shapir. In The Anatomy of a Mesopotamian City: Surveys and Soundings at Mashkan-shapir. Stone, Elizabeth C. & Zimansky, Paul Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns. 402-415.
  • Wilkinson, T.J. (2004). The archaeology of landscape. In The Blackwell Companion to Archaeology. Bintliff, John Oxford: Blackwell. 334-356.
  • Wilkinson, T.J. (2004). The disjunction between Mediterranean and Near Eastern survey: is it real? In Mediterranean Archaeological Landscapes: Current Issues. Wandsnider, L. & Athanassopoulos, E.F. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 55-67.
  • Wilkinson, T.J. (2003). Archaeological Survey and Long-term Population Trends in Upper Mesopotamia and Iran. In Yeki Bud Yeki Nabud:Essays on the Archaeology of Iran in Honor of William M. Sumner. Miller, N.F. and K. & Abdi, K. Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA. 39-51.
  • Ball, Warwick & Wilkinson, T.J. (2003). Ninevite 5 town and country in northwestern Iraq. In The Origins of North Mesopotamian Civilization: Ninevite 5 Chronology, Economy, Society. Rova, Elena & Weiss, Harvey Turnhout (Belgium).: Brepols. 335-359.
  • Wilkinson, T.J. (2002). 'Archaeological Survey of the Tell Beydar Region, Syria, 1997: A Preliminary Report'. In Subartu VI. K. Vanlerberghe Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols. VI: 1-37.
  • Wilkinson, T.J., French, C., Matthews, W. & Oates, J. (2002). Tell Brak, geoarchaeology, landscape and the region. In Excavations at Tell Brak Vol. 2. The Third Millennium B.C. Oates, J., Oates, D. & McDonald, H. Cambridge, UK: McDonald Institute. 2: 1-14.
  • Wilkinson, T.J. (2002). The settlement transition of the second millennium BC in the western Khabur. In Of Pots and Plans: Papers on the Archaeology and History of Mesopotamia. Al-Gailani Werr, L., Curtis, C., Martin, H., McMahon, A., Oates,J. & Reade, J. London: Nabu Publications.
  • Wilkinson, T.J. (2001). Surface collection, field walking, theory and practice, sampling theories. In Introduction to Archaeological Science. Brothwell, D.R., & Pollard, A.M. London.: Wiley. 529-541.
  • Wilkinson, T.J., Friedman,E. Alp,E. & Stampfl, A. (2001). The Geoarchaeology of a Lake Basin: Spatial and Chronological Patterning of Sedimentation in the Amuq Plain, Turkey. In Recherches Archéométriques, Cahiers d’archéologie du CELAT. Fortin, M. Laval University, Quebec: Laval University, Quebec. Cahiers d’archéologie du CELAT: 211-226.

Conference Paper

  • Wilkinson, Tony & J. (2010), Models of human settlement and behaviour: The role of ethnoarchaeology, in Matthiae, Paolo Pinnock,Frances Nigro Lorenzo & Marchetti, Nicolò eds, 1: Proceedings of the 6th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East May, 5th-10th 2008,•. “Sapienza” - Università di Roma. Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden, Sapienza' - Universit√ɬ† di Roma, 133-147

Edited book

Journal Article

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