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Research Fellows and Associates

Mesopotamia at Cambridge Post-doctoral and Affiliated Researchers


Dr Marie Besnier

Affiliated scholar, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research

I specialise in Mesopotamian culture, with particular reference to gardens and the divinatory series, and supervise Undergraduates in Akkadian language.


Christina Bouthillier 

Cristina BouthillierResearch Associate, Tell Brak Archaeological Project

Christina's PhD (2013) explored issues of community and cultural inter-relationships during the Late Bronze to Iron Age in the eastern Mediterranean. Her specific focus was on ceramic developments and continuities during shifts in political authority and population changes. Her data were collected from Kilise Tepe, southern Turkey. She has recently been a Research Assistant on the Tell Brak project (funded by the Newton Trust), leading the scientific sampling programme (XRF analyses of clay from container sealings and ceramics to explore the urban range of resources), developing the database and project websites, and digitising illustrations of plans and material culture for current and future publications.



Dr Carlo Colantoni

Research Associate, Kilise Tepe Archaeological Project

Carlo's PhD (2005) focussed on North Mesopotamian cultural continuities, especially in architecture and use of space, across the 3rd through early 2nd millennia BC and  during these centuries' political shifts and severe climatic changes. He has excavated and/or served as surveyor and site architect at Tell Brak, Chagar Bazar and Tell Hamoukar in Syria and at Kilise Tepe in southern Turkey and was a Fellow of the TOPOI Project at the Freie Universitat in Berlin (The formation and transformation of space in ancient civilizations) during 2009-10. He is responsible for administration, database management, and architectural digistising for the Kilise Tepe project publication programme (funded by the AHRC).


Dr Harriet Crawford

Fellow of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research

Harriet has directed fieldwork in Kuwait and Bahrain and is the author of Sumer and the Sumerians (1991, 2004), Dilmun and Its Gulf Neighbours (1998), and editor of The Sumerian World (CUP, 2012).


Dr Yağmur Heffron

Anniversary Fellow, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research 

Yağmur’s PhD (2011) examined household religion in Middle Bronze Age Anatolia, focusing on the ritual uses of domestic space. She has excavated at various sites in Turkey, including Kinet Höyük and Kilise Tepe, and was Assistant Director of the Zincirli Excavations and Research Associate of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago from 2011 to 2013. Currently she holds a three-year Anniversary Research Fellowship at the McDonald Institute, where her work centres on Assyrian ex-patriate identity in Anatolia during the early 2nd millennium BC kārum period, and the reconciliation of material evidence with textual accounts.


James Kinnier Wilson

Formerly Eric Yarrow Lecturer in Assyriology

James was the University's Assyriologist from 1955 till 1989, teaching Akkadian and Sumerian. He is author of several books, including an edition of the Etana myth.


Dr John MacGinnis

Dr John MacGinnis

Research Fellow, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research

John's academic interests revolve primarily around Mesopotamia in the first millennium BC. He is interested in work which integrates the evidence of both archaeology and epigraphy for the Neo-Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid empires. For many years he has researched the Neo-Babylonian/Achaemenid archives of the Ebabbara, the temple of the sun god Shamash in Sippar (south of modern Baghdad) and has published extensively in this field. He has also been working for over a decade at the site of Ziyaret Tepe in southeastern Turkey, now identified as the Neo-Assyrian provincial capital of Tushan, where he is both project epigrapher and directs excavations in the lower town.

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Dr Joan Oates

Fellow of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research

Joan is the Director of the Tell Brak Excavation in Syria, where she has worked since 1981; she has previously excavated in Iraq at Choga Mami, Nippur and Nimrud. Her extensive publications include Nimrud, An Assyrian Imperial City Revealed (2001, with D. Oates) and Excavations at Tell Brak, Volumes 1 and 2 (1997 and 2001, with D. Oates & H. McDonald).


Dr Kathryn Stevens

Junior Research Fellow, Trinity College

Kathryn read Classics with Akkadian as an undergraduate at St John's College, Oxford, then studied for her MPhil and PhD at King's College, Cambridge. In 2012-13 she was a Postdoctoral Fellow in Assyriology at the University of Copenhagen, before returning to Cambridge in 2013 as a Junior Research Fellow at Trinity College. Her research interests include Greek and Mesopotamian cultural and intellectual history, with a particular focus on the Hellenistic period; cross-cultural connections between the Greek world and Mesopotamia; Seleucid Babylonia; Mesopotamian astrology; and libraries and scholarship in the ancient world.