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Dr Mark Altaweel
31-34 Gordon Square
  • Reader in Near East Archaeology
  • Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
  • Institute of Archaeology
  • Faculty of S&HS

Mark Altaweel is a Reader in Near Eastern Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology having held previous appointments and joint appointments at the University of Chicago, University of Alaska, and Argonne National Laboratory. Mark has an undergraduate degree in Anthropology and Masters and PhD degrees from the University of Chicago’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.

His previous posts included studying the relationships between social and environmental systems in modern and ancient societies in a variety of regions throughout the world including in the Arctic, Near East, Southeast Asia, North America, Central Asia, and Indonesia. He was successful in brining nearly $3,000,000 worth of research funding in his first 7 years after finishing his PhD, leading many grants as a PI or Co-PI with collaborators from Economics, Anthropology, Archaeology, Sociology, Environmental Studies, Geography, Computer Science, and other fields. He helped to develop a variety of tools and computational methods that address the fields he has worked with, including developing free and open source tools used widely by researchers and the public. His honors and accolades include a “Best Paper” award at a 2005 conference, a “Pacesetter” research award in 2006 for computational tools developed, and an invited visiting appointment at an academic institution. In addition, Dr. Altaweel has visiting appointment at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory. As an archaeologist, he has worked in five different countries in the Near East with his current work focused on Iraqi Kurdistan. He currently is on the editorial board of Social Science Computer Review and Iraq.

Research Summary

Some of Dr. Altaweel's previous research focused on understanding the relationship between social interactions with the environment using a complex system perspective. He has studied how human perceptions are shaped by and influence environmental change. Other research focused on developing remote sensing methods and spatial approaches to understanding landscape change in the present and past. Some of his funded research includes:

(i)  Investigating how people walk in ancient cities and decisions they make in choosing routes within an urban context, including factors that shape movement choices such as metabolism and walking abilities.

(ii) Studying how past landscape change affected human decision-making and how social decisions influenced land use in different ecological zones.

(iii) Understanding how modern Arctic societies are coping with environmental change as caused by climate and land use change.

(iv) Applying text mining approaches to understand how social perceptions are shaped by environmental change.

(v) Conducting archaeological investigations to determine the role of land use and climate change on past societies.

(vi) Publishing and salvaging archaeological materials and information from sites threatened or destroyed by looting in Iraq.

(vii) My recent research has also focused on urbanisation in the ancient Near East and how quantitative models can be applied to understand why cities and settlements arose or declined in certain regions.

(viii) Another recent project focuses on imperialism and how states embark on empire building through different decision dynamics based on political and historical factors. We apply these techniques to the ancient Neo-Assyrian empire as our test case.

Teaching Summary

Dr. Altaweel takes an interdisciplinary perspective in his teaching philosophy and integrates a variety of methods and fields in his courses. He has taught courses on Near Eastern history and archaeology, GIS, remote sensing methods, computational modelling, social-ecological theory, and on land use and environmental change.

01-JUN-2012 Visiting Fellow Computation Institute University of Chicago, United States
15-FEB-2012 Visiting Research Scientist Decision and Information Sciences Argonne National Laboratory, United States
01-SEP-2011 Lecturer in Near Eastern Archaeology Institute of Archaeology UCL, United Kingdom
01-JUN-2008 – 31-AUG-2011 Fellow Computation Institute University of Chicago, United States
01-MAY-2008 – 30-JUN-2011 Visiting Professor Geography and Environmental Studies University of Alaska, United States
01-AUG-2005 – 30-AUG-2011 Computational Social Scientist Decision and Information Sciences Argonne National Laboratory, United States
01-JUN-2003 – 31-JUL-2005 Research Associate Decision and Information Sciences Argonne National Laboratory, United States
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