He read Archaeology and Classics at the University of Leiden (the Netherlands), specializing in Theoretical and Classical Archaeology (MA, 1990; PhD, 1998); he also studied Anthropology and Material Culture at UCL (1991). He taught Mediterranean Archaeology at the University of Glasgow between 1997 and 2012, before coming to Brown University. He serves as director of the Joukowsky Institute since 2015. He has held visiting appointments at the Universities of Valencia (Spain, 2005-06), Cagliari (Sardinia, 2011) and the Balearics (Mallorca, 2012).
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The archaeology and anthropology of the rural Mediterranean and the Phoenician-Punic world of the western Mediterranean define the research undertaken by Peter van Dommelen. His primary study areas and periods are the islands of Sardinia, Sicily and the Balearics and the Iberian east coast between the Late Bronze and Iron Ages and the Roman Republican period.
Thematically, his interest in theoretical and anthropological perspectives in archaeology centers on issues of colonialism and connectivity, with particular reference to postcolonial theory and conventional notions like 'Hellenization' and 'Romanization'. A major research theme is constituted by rural societies in the Mediterranean past and present and their formation and articulation in the wider contexts of colonialism, state formation and globalization. In archaeological terms, his principal fields of experience are settlement studies and ceramic analysis.
A consistently central concern of Peter van Dommelen's work is the combination of a theoretical orientation with practical fieldwork. The background and material to realize these ambitions have long been provided by fieldwork in west central Sardinia. He co-directed the Riu Mannu Survey Project (with M.Beatrice Annis and Pieter van de Velde of Leiden University, 1992-1999) that outlined a diachronic overview of rural settlement, and the Terralba Rural Settlement Project that zoomed in on colonial rural settlement in coastal west central Sardinia (2003-11). Carried out in collaboration with Carlos Gómez Bellard of the University of Valencia (Spain), this project involved intensive site surveys, geophysical prospection and excavation of farm sites as well as geomorphological and soil surveys.
As part of the ongoing 'Tracing Networks' research program, the Colonial Traditions project investigates ceramic production in Iron Age west central Sardinia to explore interaction between the indigenous (Nuragic) inhabitants of Sardinia and Phoenician merchants and settlers between the 9th and 4th centuries BCE. He presently directs excavations at and surveys around nuraghe S'Urachi (San Vero Milis) in collaboration with Alfonso Stiglitz (http://blogs.brown.edu/surachi/).
Peter van Dommelen serves (with John Cherry and Bernard Knapp) as co-editor of the international peer-reviewed Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology , which offers a forum for archaeology and material culture studies from all periods and across all regions of the Mediterranean. He is also a member of the editorial board of World Archaeology and a former founding co-editor of Archaeological Dialogues .
Recent books include the volume Rural Landscapes of the Punic World (2008, with Carlos Gómez Bellard) that offers an overview of rural settlement and agrarian organisation across the whole of the Punic world. The themes of culture contact and connectivity are explored in detail and in cross-cultural perspective in the edited volumes Articulating Local Identities (2007, with Nicola Terrenato), Material Connections in the Ancient Mediterranean (2010, with A. Bernard Knapp), Postcolonial Archaeologies (2011, World Archaeology 43.1), and, most recently, Mobility & Migration (2014, World Archaeology 46.4). He has also co-edited Cambridge Prehistory of the Bronze and Iron Age Mediterranean (2014, CUP, with Bernard Knapp) and Materiali e contesti nell’età del Ferro sarda (2014, Rivista di Studi Fenici 41, with Andrea Roppa).