Omur Harmansah Assistant Professor of Archaeology and the Ancient World, Assistant Professor of Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies

Ömür Harmansah specializes in the archaeology of the ancient Near East, with emphasis on Anatolia, Syria, and Mesopotamia. He is the author of Cities and the Shaping of Memory in the Ancient Near East that was published by Cambridge University Press (2013). He is spending the 2013-2014 academic year on sabbatical as a Donald D. Harrington Faculty Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, where he completed his second monograph entitled Place, Memory, and Healing: An Archaeology of Anatolian Rock Monuments, which will be published by Routledge in December 2014. Since 2010, Harmansah has been directing Yalburt Yaylasi Archaeological Landscape Research Project , a diachronic regional survey project addressing questions of place and landscape in Konya Province of west-central Turkey.

Born and raised in Turkey, Ömür studied architecture and architectural history at the Middle East Technical University (Ankara, Turkey), and received his PhD from University of Pennsylvania in the History of Art (2005). He previously taught at Reed College (Portland, OR) for three semesters in 2005-2006. He joined the faculty at Brown in 2006, and since then, he has been teaching at the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World and the Department of Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies . At Brown he is also affiliated with the Department of Anthropology , Department of Theater Arts and Performance Studies , and the program in Middle East Studies. He was Faculty Fellow at the Cogut Center for the Humanities in Fall 2012. He currently serves as a Commissioner at the State of Rhode Island Historic Preservation and Heritage Commission .

Research Areas

scholarly work

In press. Place, Memory, and Healing: An Archaeology of Anatolian Rock Monuments. New York and London: Routledge (December 19, 2014). 

In press. “Borders are Rough-hewn: Monuments, Local Landscapes and the Politics of Place in Hittite Anatolia” in Bordered Places Bounded times - Interdisciplinary perspectives on Turkey, edited by Emma Baysal and Leonidas Karakatsanis. British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara Monograph Series.

In press. "Stone worlds: Technologies of rock-carving and place-making in Anatolian landscapes" in The Cambridge Prehistory of the Bronze and Iron Age Mediterranean. A. Bernard Knapp and Peter van Dommelen (eds.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (November 2014), 379-393.

In press. "Apparition on the Living Rock: Rock Reliefs and Landscape Monuments in the Near East" in A Companion to the Art of the Ancient Near East, edited by Ann Gunter. Malden MA: Blackwell.

2014. Of Rocks and Water: Towards an Archaeology of Place, edited by Omur Harmansah. Joukowsky Institute Publications 5. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

2014. "Introduction" in Of Rocks and Water: Towards an Archaeology of Place, edited by Omur Harmansah. Joukowsky Institute Publications 5. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 1-12.

2014. "Event, Place, Performance: Rock Reliefs and Spring Monuments in Anatolia" in Of Rocks and Water: Towards an Archaeology of Place, edited by Omur Harmansah. Joukowsky Institute Publications 5. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 140-168.

2014. "Urban Utopias and How They Fell Apart: The Political Ecology of Gezi Parkı," in The Making of Turkey's Protest Movement: #occupygezi, edited by Umut Özkırımlı. With an introduction by Judith Butler. New York: Palgrave MacMillan/Palgrave Pilot, 121-133.

2014. "Figures Carved on the Living Rock : Hittite Rock Monuments,"in Hittites: An Anatolian Empire. Metin Alparslan and Meltem Dogan Alparslan (eds). Istanbul: Yapi Kredi Publications, 566-579.

2014. "Yalburt Pınarı’nda bir Hitit Kralı: Tunç Çağı, Soğuk Sular ve Anadolu Peyzajı" Aktüel Arkeoloji 38 (March-April 2014). (with Peri Johnson and Müge Durusu-Tanrıöver)

2013. Cities and the Shaping of Memory in the Ancient Near East. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

2013. "The Cattlepen and the Sheepfold: Cities, Temples, and Pastoral Power in Ancient Mesopotamia." In Heaven on Earth: Temples, Ritual, and Cosmic Symbolism in the Ancient World. Deena Ragavan (ed.). Oriental Institute Seminars 9. Chicago: The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 371-392.

2013. Review of J.E. Curtis and N. Tallis (eds.), The Balawat Gates of Ashurnasirpal II, The British Museum Press, London 2008. Ancient West & East 12 (2013) 362-366.

2012. "Beyond Aššur: New Cities and the Assyrian Politics of Landscape," Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 365: 53-77.

2012. "Critical archaeologies for political engagements with place (Kritische Archaeologie: der Ort als Thema politischer Auseinandersetzung)" Forum Kritische Archäologie 1: 134-140.

2012. "The Location of Theory: A Discussion with Homi Bhabha," Archaeologies: Journal of the World Archaeological Congress 8: 1 ( 2012) (with Nick Shepherd).

2011. "Monuments and memory: Architecture and visual culture in ancient Anatolian history," in Oxford Handbook of Ancient Anatolia (10,000–323 BCE). Edited by Sharon R. Steadman and Gregory McMahon. Oxford University Press, 623-651.

2011. "Moving Landscapes, Making Place: Cities, Monuments and Commemoration at Malizi/Melid" Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 24.1: 55-83.

2009. "Stones of Ayanis: New Urban Foundations and the Architectonic Culture in Urartu during the 7th C. BC," in Bautechnik im Antiken und Vorantiken Kleinasien. Internationale Konferenz 13-16. Juni 2007 in Istanbul. (Byzas 9). Martin Bachmann (ed.). Ege Yayınları: Istanbul, 177-197.

2008. Review of Marian H. Feldman. Diplomacy by Design: Luxury Arts and an "International Style" in the Ancient Near East, 1400-1200 BCE. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006. Art Bulletin 90.1: 123-126.

2007. "Upright stones and building narratives: formation of a shared architectural practice in the ancient Near East," in Ancient Near Eastern Art in Context: Studies in Honor of Irene J. Winter by her students. Jack Cheng and Marian H. Feldman (eds.). Leiden: Brill Publishers, pp. 69-99.

2007. "Source of the Tigris: Event, Place and Performance in the Assyrian Landscapes of the Early Iron Age," Archaeological Dialogues 14.2: 179-204.

2007. "Ancient Mesopotamia" chapter including entries on Ur, Tell Asmar, Babylon, Khorsabad, and Development of Writing. In Archaeologica: The World's Most Significant Sites and Cultural Treasures. Aedeen Cremin (ed.). London: Frances Lincoln Publishers, 214-223.

2002. Series of entries and map contributions in Mapping Augustan Rome. Directed by Lothar Haselberger in collaboration with David G. Romano & edited by Elisha Dumser. Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplement Series No. 50: Portsmouth, RI.

1996 "The Kerkenes Dag survey: An interim report," Anatolian Studies 46: 200-234. (with G.D. Summers, F.E. Summers, N. Baturayoglu, E. McIntosh).

research overview

Ömür Harmanşah works in the field of archaeology, architectural history and material culture of the Near East. He has written on cities, urban space and architectural technologies in ancient Turkey, Iraq and Syria. His academic interests involve intersections of place and landscape, bodily performance, local knowledge, collective memory, and political ecology. He is currently working on a cultural biography of rock reliefs and spring monuments in Anatolia and a critical archaeology of place.

research statement

Having been trained as an architect and architectural historian, my research has always been involved with questions of space and spatiality, particularly the social production of space in the ancient Near Eastern world. I am however increasingly interested in questions of place and landscape, especially how archaeological and ethno-historical projects study culturally meaningful places. I am currently working on a monograph that attempts to develop what I call "an archaeology of place".

Archaeological research is usually dependant upon rigorous fieldwork. In the summer of 2010, I initiated the Brown University based and funded Yalburt Yaylasi Archaeological Landscape Research Project , a five-year diachronic regional survey project in West-Central Turkey, in the environs of a Hittite (Late Bronze Age) sacred pool complex and dam. I am also currently involved with projects at Gordion and Ayanis in Turkey. At Gordion, a Phrygian site in Central Anatolia, I have been working on the Early Iron age building technologies and more recently the final publication of Middle Phrygian architecture from the site. At Ayanis, I have worked on the use of stone in the architecture of this Urartian city, located on the Eastern shore of Lake Van in Eastern Turkey. Starting in 2007, I have become affiliated with an ethnoarchaeological project at Ayanis , where I took on the task of documenting architectural traditions and building technologies at the nearby village of Ayanis. My first monograph entitled Cities and the Shaping of Memory in the Ancient Near East was published by Cambridge University Press in March 2013.

funded research

2009-2010 The Richard B. Salomon Faculty Research Award. Brown University Office of the Vice President for Research. Project title: "Southern Beyşehir Lake Basin Archaeological Research Project: First Field Season (2009)" Awarded: $15,000.

2009-2010 Brown University Department of Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies. Project title: "Southern Beyşehir Lake Basin Archaeological Research Project: First Field Season (2009)" Awarded: $15,000.