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Researcher of the Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures PAS since December 2020
Working hours: at 9.00 a.m. - 3.00 p.m.
Specialization and research interests:
• Archaeology and History of the Ancient Near East and Eastern Mediterranean
• Theoretical Approaches to Archaeology and Ancient History
• Digital Humanities
• Human-animal relations
I work at the interface between material, visual and textual culture with a strong interest in digital humanities and their application in history and archaeology in the ancient Near East and Eastern Mediterranean.
I completed my PhD at the University of Cambridge (UK) on sealing and administrative practices at the end of the 3rd millennium BC in Mesopotamia. During my PhD, I spent two years in the Netherlands, and moved to Helsinki to work on interconnections in the Eastern Mediterranean in the 2nd and 1st millennia BC. Upon finishing my PhD, I took a postdoctoral appointment at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, working for the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative of UCLA and directing the creation of a database for the documentation of seals and sealing practices in the Ancient Near East. I moved to Heidelberg to work in the CRC 933 Material Text Cultures on the materiality of writing and the affordances of materials, designs and practices. My work explored the dichotomy between élites and non-élites in third millennium Mesopotamia. I then taught at the University of Newcastle (UK) before moving back to Cambridge as a Senior Research Associate to lead a project on the materiality of votive inscriptions and religious practices of private individuals in the Ancient Near East throughout three millennia and take up a Marie-Curie fellowship with my PLOMAT project looking at the spread of commonplace cylinder seals in Western Eurasia during the mid-second millennium BC. Since April 2019 I am Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College, Cambridge (UK) and since December 2020, I hold dual appointment at the University of Cambridge and as Assistant Professor in Near Eastern Archaeology at the Polish Academy of Sciences.
My research explores the socio-cultural history and archaeology of the Ancient Near East and Eastern Mediterranean from the late 4th millennium up to the 1st millennium BCE to elucidate aspects of social complexity, taking an interdisciplinary approach with a strong emphasis on digital humanities and their applications to archaeological material, especially database development, computer vision research and social network analysis.
Memories for Life: Materiality and Memory of Ancient Near Eastern Inscribed Private Objects – project on private votive objects in the Ancient Near East 3000-500 BCE, Cambridge PI with Dr J. Andersson (Uppsala), funded by the Swedish Research Council, grant no 2016-02028. This project explores the interplay of religion and ritual practices in the formation of identities in the Ancient Near East in the longue durée. It aims to identify and highlight the personal perspective, materiality and agency in inscribed objects commissioned by private individuals in the Ancient Near East throughout three millennia.
PLOMAT: Plotting the material flows of commonplace Late Bronze Age seals in Western Eurasia – project on the spread of common Mitanni and pseudo-Kassite cylinder seals in Western Eurasia 1600-1300 BCE, funded by the European Commission, Horizon2020, grant no 748293. This project aims to explore the socio-cultural history of non-elites at the transition from the Middle to the Late Bronze Age in the Near East, Eastern Mediterranean and S. Caucasus. The emphasis is placed on mapping the flows of images, artefacts and ideas. Combining Digital Humanities and archaeometry with innovative archaeological and art historical theories, the project studies the production, consumption, and appropriation and/or rejection of ‘commonplace’ cylinder seals, a widely-used class of object in mid-second millennium BCE, seemingly produced en-masse on ‘low-cost’ materials, which spread over a wide area from the Eastern Mediterranean to Central Western Asia.
Identities in Antiquity – production of a handbook on identities in the Near East, Greece, Rome, Medieval West and Byzantium, with Dr V. Manolopoulou and Dr J. Skinner.
Early Mesopotamian Cylinder Seals in the British Museum – edition of 430 Near Eastern cylinder seals from late 4th to mid-3rd millennia BCE housed at the British Museum, with Dr. D. Collon and Dr J. Taylor.
Tell al-Wilayah – co-publication of the results of the fourth excavation season by the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities in 2002 at the Mesopotamian site of Tell al-Wilayah, with Dr A. Saadoon, Dr A. al-Taee, Dr Salman, Dr M. Weeden, and Dr J. Jotheri, partly funded by the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge. Tell al-Wilaya is a very important site in Southern Mesopotamia, where occupation levels dating back to the Ubaid period have been traced. The 2002 season focused on 3 different areas of the site, unearthing levels dating to the Early Dynastic and Akkadian periods and more than fifty cuneiform tablets, sixty-one stamp and cylinder seals, as well as pottery, bronze weapons and utensils and large building units. The volume will be the definitive presentation of the site of Tell al-Wilayah, which is of significance for understanding this area of Mesopotamia in its ecological, administrative and geo-political contexts, and throw more light onto the Early Dynastic to Akkadian transition in Southern Mesopotamia. The content of the tablets, while to a certain extent unique, also offers a very rare opportunity to study texts from this period in their archaeological context. This is a project led by Iraqi colleagues, deepening and disseminating Iraqi research.
Human-animal relations – I have a strong interest in exploring human-animal relations in the ancient Near East, ranging from dogs and sheep/cattle to insects and fish. An edited volume will soon appear with Cambridge McDonald’s Institute Conversation Series on the theme of the complex relations between humans and animals (with Prof. L. Recht, University of Graz). A particular interest of mine is furthermore the complex relations of dogs and humans. Apart from the articles I have authored on this subject, ranging from the use of dogs in war and in religious praxis, we are currently preparing a monograph together with L. Recht on the fascinating past of the dog in the ancient Near East, which will be the first of its kind to bring together faunal, iconographic and textual evidence to explore the life of one of the most important companion animals in the history of humankind.
1. Recht, L. and C. Tsouparopoulou (eds.), forthcoming 2021, Fierce lions, angry mice and fat-tailed sheep: Animal encounters in the ancient Near East. Cambridge: McDonald Institute Conversation Series.
2. Balke, Th. E. and C. Tsouparopoulou (eds.) 2016, Materiality of Writing in Early Mesopotamia, Materiale Textkulturen Series, Berlin: De Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-045962-3.
3. Tsouparopoulou, C. 2015, The Ur III seals impressed on cuneiform documents from Puzrish-Dagan (Drehem), Heidelberger Studien zum Alten Orient 16, Heidelberg: Heidelberger Orientverlag. ISBN 978-3-927552-51-7.
4. Saadoon, A., A. G. Al-Taei, C. Tsouparopoulou, M. Weeden, and A. A. Salman, with a contribution by J. Jotheri, Tell al-Wilaya: report of the 2002 excavation season; initially accepted for publication with the McDonald Institute Monograph Series, Cambridge.
5. Manolopoulou, V., J. Skinner and C. Tsouparopoulou (eds.), under contract. Identities in Antiquity. Rewriting Antiquity. Routledge.
Articles in journals and book chapters
6. Tsouparopoulou, C., forthcoming 2021 “A methodological solution to overcoming the text:artefact divide in Ancient Near Eastern Studies”, in Y. Heffron (ed.), Textual Archaeology, London: UCL Press (12,200 words).
7. Tsouparopoulou, C. and L. Recht, forthcoming 2021, “Dogs and equids in war in 3rd millennium Mesopotamia”, in Recht, L. and C. Tsouparopoulou (eds.), Fierce lions, angry mice and fat-tailed sheep: Animal encounters in the ancient Near East. Cambridge: McDonald Institute Conversations Series.
8. Recht, L. and C. Tsouparopoulou, forthcoming 2021, “Encountering animals in the Ancient Near East”, in Recht, L. and C. Tsouparopoulou (eds.), Fierce lions, angry mice and fat-tailed sheep: Animal encounters in the ancient Near East. Cambridge: McDonald Institute Conversations Series.
9. Tsouparopoulou, C., 2020, “The healing goddess, her dogs and physicians in late third millennium BC Mesopotamia”, Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archäologie 110(1): 14–24.
10. Highcock, N. and C. Tsouparopoulou 2020, “The Construction of Women’s Identities through Commemorative Objects in Bronze Age Mesopotamia”, Altorientalische Forschungen 47(2): 186–204.
11. Tsouparopoulou, C. 2017, “’Counter-archaeology’; putting the Ur III Drehem archives back in the ground”, in Heffron, Y., A. B. Stone and M. J. Worthington (eds.), At the Dawn of History: Ancient Near Eastern Studies in honour of J. Nicholas Postgate, 611-29, Winona Lake (IN): Eisenbrauns.
12. Balke, Th. and C. Tsouparopoulou 2016, Introduction, in Balke, T. and C. Tsouparopoulou (eds.), Materiality of Writing in Early Mesopotamia, 1–10, Berlin: De Gruyter.
13. Tsouparopoulou, C. 2016, “Deconstructing textuality, reconstructing materiality in Mesopotamia”, in Balke, T. and C. Tsouparopoulou (eds.), Materiality of Writing in Early Mesopotamia, 257–76, Berlin: De Gruyter.
14. Tsouparopoulou, C. 2016, “Gertrude Bell and Ur”, in Jackson, M. and A. Perkin (eds.), The Extraordinary Gertrude Bell, Newcastle: Tyne Bridge Publishing.
15. Jördens, A, M. Ott, R. Ast, C. Tsouparopoulou 2015, “Wachs”, in T. Meier, M. Ott, Sauer, R. (eds.) Materiale Textkulturen. Konzepte-Materialien-Praktiken, 371–382. Berlin: De Gruyter.
16. Balke, T., D. Panagiotopoulos, A. Sarri, C. Tsouparopoulou 2015, “Ton”, in T. Meier, M. Ott, Sauer, R. (eds.) Materiale Textkulturen. Konzepte-Materialien-Praktiken, 277–292. Berlin: De Gruyter.
17. Fox, R., D. Panagiotopoulos, C. Tsouparopoulou 2015, “Affordanz”, in. T. Meier, M. Ott, Sauer, R. (eds.) Materiale Textkulturen. Konzepte-Materialien-Praktiken, 63–70. Berlin: De Gruyter.
18. Tsouparopoulou, C. and T. Maier 2015, “Artefakt”, in T. Meier, M. Ott, Sauer, R. (eds.) Materiale Textkulturen. Konzepte-Materialien-Praktiken, 47–62. Berlin: De Gruyter.
19. Karagianni, A., J.P. Schwindt, C. Tsouparopoulou 2015, “Materialität”, in T. Meier, M. Ott, Sauer, R. (eds.) Materiale Textkulturen. Konzepte-Materialien-Praktiken, 33–46. Berlin: De Gruyter.
20. Tsouparopoulou, C. 2015, “Spreading the royal word: the (im)materiality of communication in early Mesopotamia”, in S. Enderwitz and R. Sauer (eds.). Communication and Materiality in Pre-modern societies. Materiale Textkulturen 8, 5–23. Berlin: De Gruyter.
21. Tsouparopoulou, C. 2014, “A note on Ur III administrative procrastination”, Cuneiform Digital Library Notes.
22. Tsouparopoulou, C. 2014, “Hidden messages under the temple”, in T. Frese, W. Keil, K. Krüger (eds.) Verborgen, unsichtbar, unlesbar. Materiale Textkulturen 2:23–38. Berlin: De Gruyter.
23. Tsouparopoulou, C. 2014, “An online database for the documentation of seals, sealings and seal impressions in the Ancient Near East”, Studia Orientalia Electronica 2: 37–68. (With a contribution by R. Casties).
24. Tsouparopoulou, C. 2013, “Killing and skinning animals in the Ur III period”, Altorientalische Forschungen 40: 150–182.
25. Tsouparopoulou, C. 2013, “A reconstruction of the Puzrish-Dagan central livestock agency”, Cuneiform Digital Library Journal 2013/2: 1–20.
26. Tsouparopoulou, C. 2013, “Reflections on paratextual markers and graphic devices in Ur III administrative documents”, Textual Cultures 8.2: 1–14.
27. Tsouparopoulou, C. 2012, “The K-9 Corps of the Third Dynasty of Ur”, Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archäologie 102: 1–16.
28. Kantel, J., P. Damerow, S. Köhler, and C. Tsouparopoulou 2010, “3D-Scans von Keilschrifttafeln” in Assmann, W., C. Hausmann-Jamin, F. Malisius (eds.), 26. DV-Treffen der Max-Planck-Institute. Göttingen, 41–62.
29. Tsouparopoulou, C. 2008, “Namnine-hedu: yet another Ur III princess”, Journal of Cuneiform Studies 56: 7–13.
Blog and online entries
30. Tsouparopoulou, C., J. Andersson, N. Highcock and R. Rattenborg 2020, “Memories for Life: Materiality and memory of ancient Near Eastern inscribed private objects”, blog article in The Votives Project, www.thevotivesproject.org/2020/06/12/memories-for-life/
31. Tsouparopoulou, C. 2013, “On the journey to eternity: Memoirs of a cuneiform tablet and its tag”, in the Material Text Cultures Blog 2013/2, 1-12.
32. Tsouparopoulou, C. 2013, “On the Aesthetics of Text: A personal note", in the Material Text Cultures Blog, 2013/6.
33. Tsouparopoulou, C. 2008, “Assyrian statuettes and figurines from Samos”, in the ‘Melammu Project, The Heritage of Mesopotamia and the Ancient Near East’ http://melammu-project.eu/database/gen_html/a0001535.html
34. Tsouparopoulou, C. 2008, “Babylonian figurines from Samos”, in the Melammu Project, http://melammu-project.eu/database/gen_html/a0001536.html
35. Tsouparopoulou, C. 2008, “Bronze figurine of Mušhuššu from Samos”, in the Melammu Project http://melammu-project.eu/database/gen_html/a0001537.html
36. Tsouparopoulou, C. 2008, “Horse cheekpieces”, in the Melammu Project http://melammu-project.eu/database/gen_html/a0001538.html
37. Tsouparopoulou, C. 2008, “Oriental Camel and rider bronze group from Cameiros, Rhodes”, in the Melammu Project http://melammu-project.eu/database/gen_html/a0001539.html
38. Tsouparopoulou, C. 2008, “Humbaba and Gorgon”, in the Melammu Project, http://melammu-project.eu/database/gen_html/a0001540.html
39. Tsouparopoulou, C. 2008, “Ionians in Neo-Assyrian Sources”, in the Melammu Project http://melammu-project.eu/database/gen_html/a0001541.html
Open-access online databases and libraries
40. Andersson, J., C. Tsouparopoulou, N. Highcock, R. Rattenborg, R. Clark 2020, ‘Cuneiform Inscriptions of Private Individuals Online’ (CIPo), hosted in Open Richly Annotated Cuneiform Corpus (ORACC), it is the web-based resource of the ‘Memories for Life Project’, currently beta.
41. Andersson, J., C. Tsouparopoulou, R. Rattenborg, S. Ferreri, N. Highcock, P. Browne, S. Nett, 2019-present. Zotero project library. It contains a full record of c. 1200 entries (articles, books, edited volumes) on objects, inscriptions, their historical and archaeological context, as well as synthetic contributions on commemorative inscriptions, votive practices, religion, memory, and the materiality of writing in the ancient Near East. Also included are references to all of the archaeological sites containing such objects. Bibliography is downloadable in a variety of formats, e.g. BibTeX, RDF, TEI. https://www.zotero.org/groups/2212929/memoriesforlife/
42. Tsouparopoulou, C. 2009-2014. Database of seals, sealings and seal impressions of the Ancient Near East http://cdli.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/search/seals/ (beta version; obsolete as of 2014)
43. Tsouparopoulou, C. 2009-2010. More than 2000 entries, editions, transliterations and collations for the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (CDLI) website http://cdli.ucla.edu
44. Tsouparopoulou, C. 2009. Editor of the bibliographies and short contributions to the online database of the Melammu Project http://www.aakkl.helsinki.fi/melammu/database
2021 ‘Seals, bullae, and other graphic devices used in late third millennium Mesopotamian administration’, in the Annual NINO Conference Bookkeeping Without Writing: Early administrative technologies in context, Leiden, the Netherlands (February 2021, postponed from Nov 2020) [invited conference paper]
2020 ‘Crossing borders in Antiquity’, Wolfson College Lunchtime Seminar “Borders”, Wolfson College, University of Cambridge, May 2020 (cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic) [Invited Public seminar]
2019 ‘Western Eurasia in mid-2nd millennium BC’, invited Departmental Seminar, Durham Centre for the Study of the Ancient Mediterranean and Near East, Durham University, UK
2019 ‘Connectivities of societies in Western Eurasia: a view from below’, invited Departmental Seminar, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Ancient Near Eastern Seminar Series, Cambridge, UK
2019 ‘Connecting Western Eurasia during the 2nd millennium BC: the material flows of Common Mitanni Cylinder seals’, invited Departmental Seminar, Ancient Near Eastern Seminar Series, University of Oxford, UK
2019 ‘The Construction of Women’s Identities through Commemorative Objects in Bronze Age Mesopotamia’ (with N. Highcock), Annual Meeting of Oriental Research (ASOR), San Diego, US
2019 ‘Connecting East and West: Common Mitanni Seals in the Aegean’, in the Conference Sign, Speech, and Society in the Ancient Near East: 100 Years of Ancient Near Eastern Studies in Prague, Faculty of Arts, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic [invited conference paper]
2019 ‘Digitally preserving Syrian cultural heritage’, in the Workshop Seals, Sealings and Administration: Digitizing Bureaucracy - Preserving Cultural Heritage of the Heidelberg Centre for Cultural Heritage, Heidelberg University [invited workshop paper]
2019 ‘The Common Mitanni cylinder seals from mainland Greece’, in the Workshop Anatomy of Seals: Considering Materiality, Meaning and Society, Organizer L. Battini (CNRS), 65th Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, Paris, France [invited workshop paper]
2019 ‘Dogs and equids in war in 3rd millennium Mesopotamia’, in the International Conference Fierce lions, angry mice & fat-tailed sheep, University of Cambridge (with Dr L. Recht)
2018 ‘Fashioning the priesthood’s identities through images and objects in 3rd millennium Mesopotamia’, in the Conference Priests and Priesthood in the Near East, Tel Aviv University [invited conference paper]
2018 ‘Communicating with the divine through commemorative objects in 3rd millennium BCE Mesopotamia’ (with J. Andersson), The 11th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, Munich, Germany
2016 ‘Materiality of Writing in Mesopotamia’, Public Lecture Series, Birmingham University, School of Arts and Cultures – October 2016 [Invited Public Lecture]
2016 ‘The value of writing and the written in Mesopotamia’, Uppsala University, Sweden [Invited Public Lecture]
2015 ‘Methodological solutions for overcoming the text:artefact divide’, in the Conference Textual Archaeology of the Ancient Near East: Are We Doing It Wrong?, University of Cambridge [invited conference paper]
2015 ‘A new look at Old Babylonian seals’, Conference in Honour of Dr Dominique Collon, British Museum and School of Oriental and African Studies, London, UK [invited conference paper]
2015 ‘On Old Babylonian bur-gul seals’, invited Departmental Seminar, Institute of Near Eastern Archaeology, Heidelberg
2014 ‘On the acculturation of symbols: From Mesopotamia to Macedonia’, European Association of Archaeologists Conference, Istanbul, Turkey
2014 ‘A database for seals and sealings’, in the Workshop Sealing and sealing in the Ancient Near East, Oxford, UK [invited workshop paper]
2013 ‘Archival practices at Puzrish-Dagan’, invited Departmental Seminar, Institute of Near Eastern Archaeology, Heidelberg
2013 ‘Ur during the Ur III period’, invited Departmental Seminar, Institute for Near Eastern Archaeology, Mainz
2013 ‘Ordering the archival rooms at Puzrish-Dagan’, Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, Ghent, Belgium
2013 ‘Desacralizing/devaluing text in the Ur III period’, Colloquium Materiality of Writing, University of Heidelberg, Germany
2012 ‘Spreading the royal word’, in the Workshop Communication and Materiality in the Ancient World, University of Heidelberg, Germany [invited workshop paper]
2012 ‘Foundation deposits in Mesopotamia’, invited Departmental Seminar, Institute of Near Eastern Archaeology, Heidelberg
2011 ‘Leather workers, carcass disposers, storeroom officials or just more bureaucrats?’ Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, Rome, Italy
2011 ‘An innovative approach to the documentation of seals: building an online database for ANE seals and sealing practices’ (poster), Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, Rome, Italy
2009 ‘The creation of an online database for Ancient Near Eastern seals’, Workshop of the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative, UCLA, USA [invited workshop paper]
2009 ‘Ruling Ur III tablets: The scribes and sealers at Drehem’, Networks of Movement in South-Western Asia, British Association of Near Eastern Archaeologists, Durham, UK
2008 ‘The Melammu Website: What we have to offer, and how you could contribute’ (with E. van Dongen), in Globalization in the First Millennium, Assyrian and Babylonian Intellectual Heritage Project, Sofia, Bulgaria
2005 ‘Ancient Drehem’ Andrews University, Horn Archaeological Museum, USA [Invited Public Lecture]
In prep ‘Gertrude Bell, The Director of Antiquities in British Mandate Iraq’, Public Lecture Series of the Maecenia Foundation for Women in Science and Arts, Weltkulturen Museum Frankfurt, Germany [Invited Public Lecture]
Organisation of international conferences /workshops
2021 Co-organiser of session ‘Of the Water: Fish and molluscs in the ancient eastern Mediterranean’, to be held within the 27th EAA Annual Meeting in Kiel, Germany (with L. Recht)
2021 Co-organiser of workshop ‘Socioscapes of Ancient Near Eastern Popular Religion’, to be held within the 12th International Congress for the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, Bologna, forthcoming April 2021 (postponed from 2020; with J. Andersson and N. Highcock)
2019 Invited member of the program committee for the International Conference ‘Sign, Speech, and Society in the Ancient Near East: 100 Years of Ancient Near Eastern Studies in Prague’, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic, September 2019
2019 Co-organiser of international workshop ‘Votive practices in antiquity’, Uppsala University, Sweden, September 2019 (with J. Andersson, N. Highcock, R. Rattenborg, S. Nett, S. Ferreri)
2016 Co-organiser of International Ur III workshop at the Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, Philadelphia (with S. Garfinkle, M. Molina, P. Notizia)
2013 Co-organiser of international conference ‘Materiality of Writing in 3rd millennium Mesopotamia’ (with Th. E. Balke, M. Hilgert, and P. Miglus), Heidelberg, Germany
2009 Panel co-organiser in ‘Cuneiforum’ session, British Association for Near Eastern Archaeology Conference: ‘Tablets as objects: their physical characteristics and links to administrative practices’, Durham, UK (with J. L. Dahl)
- British Association for Near Eastern Archaeology
- The British Institute for the Study of Iraq
- European Association of Archaeologists
- American Research Institute of the South Caucasus
- Council for British Research in the Levant
- International Association for Assyriology
- Aegeus Society for Aegean Prehistory
- International Association for Archaeological Research in Western & Central Asia