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Durham University

Research & business

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Mr Michal Michalski

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I worked as a field archaeologist for commercial and research projects in Poland, UK, UAE and Qatar before pursuing career as GIS professional in heritage management and government.

Academic Background

  • MSc in Geographic Information Science, The University of Edinburgh, UK
  • MA in Archaeology, The University of Nicolai Copernicus, Poland
  • Diploma in Arabic Culture and Language The University of Nicolai Copernicus, Poland

Research Topic

A spatio-temporal analysis of settlement patterns in the Northern Fertile Crescent from the Iron Age to the Late Islamic period.


History of the Near East has been characterised by cycles of growth and collapse. The dramatic transition from Bronze Age to Iron Age that unravelled around 1200 BC culminated in the emergence of successive Large Territorial Empires. Consequently, the long list of empires opened by Neo-Assyrians dominated the region from about 9th BC century until early 20th century. This period witnessed profound social, political, economic and cultural changes. Although causes and roots of the events are not fully understood they have been attributed to, among others, social revolution, ecological disaster and large-scale migrations. Yet, the distinction between consequences and catalysts remains ambiguous. Therefore, archaeology still struggles to explain underlying mechanisms of accompanying changes in landscape organization in Northern Mesopotamia and Levant. The tell-dominated landscape of the Bronze Age was reshaped, the nucleated centres were superseded by smaller, rural settlements and occasional large cities. This structural change in settlements pattern was termed ‘The Great Dispersal’.

The purpose of research is twofold. First, to better understand timing and mechanisms underlying ‘The Great Dispersal’ process and consequent long-term occupation of the landscape under the rule of Later Territorial Empires in the Fertile Crescent. Second, to develop transparent, reproducible and open workflows for analysing and visualizing archaeological survey data and dealing with so called ‘big data’ in archaeology.

Consequently, this study employs a recent methodological developments of movement labelled Spatial or Geographic Data Science which sees itself as a part of wider Data Science but with added spatial component to data analysis, statistics, data mining, machine learning database manipulation.


2019 Irene Calvert Travel Bursary (£90)

Papers Presented

Morgan, C., Carter, R. & Michalski, M. (2016) The Origins of Doha Project: Online Digital Heritage Remediation and Public Outreach in a Vanishing Pearling Town in the Arabian Gulf. in CHNT 20: Conference on Cultural Heritage and New Technologies November 2-4, 2015. Stadt Archaeologie Wien.

Posters Presented

Michalski, M., Carter, R., Eddisford, D., Fletcher, R. and Morgan, C. (2018) Doha Online Historical Atlas - GIS interactive mapping of space and time in a pearling town. Proceedings of the 44th Annual Conference on Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology, 29 March – 2 April 2016, Oslo.

Public Outreach

Michalski, M, Traditional Architecture of Doha. Heritage of Doha, Identity of Qatar Workshop, 5 November 2014.

Gittings, B., Michalski, M. The Story of Perth: Linking Archaeology, History and Maps. Working Digitally with Historical Maps, 13 December 2012, Edinburgh.

Research Groups

Department of Archaeology