Category Archives: news

ISIS Increases the Destruction of Antiquities in Syria

The Islamic State released this photo of a detonation in the Temple of Baalshamin in Palmyra. Militant website, via The New York Times.

The Islamic State released this photo of a detonation in the Temple of Baalshamin in Palmyra. Militant website, via The New York Times.

This latest article by The New York Times describes the recent destruction of a fifth-century Roman Catholic monastery and one of the best-preserved temples in Palmyra, dated to the first-century. Both destructions, carried out by Islamic State militants, occurred in the same week in the same province in Syria.

The NYT has also updated the graphical analysis of the strategy behind ISIS’s destruction of ancient sites. Another article describes in more detail the destruction of the Temple of Baalshamin at Palmyra.

The latest destruction of Syrian antiquities follows close on the heels of the gruesome murder of archaeologist and former custodian of Palmyra, Khaled al-As’ad.

The Oriental Institute Speaks Out Against the Murder of Khaled al-As’ad

by Katie Jarriel

Mr. Khaled al-As'ad, via The NY Times

Mr. Khaled al-As’ad, via NY Times

The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago has recently released a statement on the murder of Khaled al-As’ad, the retired chief of antiquities for Palmyra. Mr. al-As’ad was murdered by Islamic State militants, the latest in a series of atrocities perpetrated against Syrian antiquities and the individuals who research and protect them.

Mr. al-As’ad was the principal custodian of Palmyra for 40 years, beginning in 1963. Under his direction, Palmyra was elevated to a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.

Below is the statement in full:

The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago mourns the brutal murder by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (also known as ISIL, ISIS, or Da’ish) of Khaled al-As’ad, the retired Antiquities Director for the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria.

Palmyra, a caravan city on the edge of the Syrian desert is a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its historical significance as part of the Silk Road, its beautifully preserved architecture and magnificent sculptures.

The 83 year old Mr. al-As’ad was arrested, tortured, and beheaded for refusing to reveal the location of antiquities from Palmyra that he had hidden away to prevent them from being looted and sold on the illicit antiquities market.

We condemn this brutal and senseless act. We mourn the loss of a scholar and courageous man who gave his life to protect the irreplaceable cultural heritage of Palmyra, and Syria more generally.

In response to the recent destruction of antiquities and archaeological sites carried out by Islamic State militants, CIAMS professors Adam Smith and Sturt Manning have published opinion pieces in the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire and CNN, respectively.

On behalf of the archaeologists of CIAMS, I would like to express deep sorrow at the loss of our brave and dedicated colleague.

The Oriental Institute’s original statement may be found here. The NY Times and The Guardian have published articles with further details about Mr. al-As’ad’s life and work.

Let’s welcome the new directors

Image result for schooner sunset picturesTo all the CIAMS community:

As I ease out of my Assistant Director role at CIAMS (to spend more time with boats, dogs, the family, and possibly even to write), I want to thank all the staff, especially former Director, Sturt Manning, for giving me the chance to make an impact on our Institute. It has been a uniquely rewarding pleasure, and above all the students and their energy have impressed me to no end. It’s going to be an exciting year, with Kurt as our new Director,  and I must say that I’m very glad to have been replaced by Katie Jarriel, who is not only a talented doctoral student in Classical Archaeology but the designer of that catchy CIAMS logo! I think this was an inspired choice, and after you meet Katie at the Welcome Back Reception on September 3  I hope you’ll support her throughout the year by participating in the various lectures and podcasts she’ll be organizing (and please support Kurt in his role by following his orders!) Good luck, Katie, and see you all out there.

All the best,

Chris Monroe

Congratulations to Cornell’s 2015 Archaeology Graduates!

Image result for cornell commencement capThe CIAMS faculty and staff wish all the best to Cornell students being graduated with Archaeology Majors and Master’s degrees in Spring 2015
The Undergraduate Majors are Morgan Michel-Schottman, Alexander Morgan, Eliizabeth Napper, and Zachary Peterson.
And the Master’s in Archaeology are William Breitweiser, Cynthia Kocik, Nicholas Lashway, and Katherine Seufer.

Congratulations, and good luck to all of you!

New archaeology journal focused on publishing student research

From Gonzalo Linares, Oxford
The International Journal of Student Research in Archaeology-IJSRA (link to flyer) is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal, edited by a team of students from more than 30 top institutions in 13 countries. The aim of this publication is to be a global reference point in archaeology, as well as to serve as an international forum for the exchange of excellent scholarship in an atmosphere of constructive dialogue and inclusivity. Ultimately, we aim to enhance the academic experience, scholarly presence, and recognition of students worldwide. This Journal accepts papers addressing any topic and time period of archaeological interest. Research may be based in any geographical area, engage with any methodological and theoretical framework, and include integrative insights and evidence from any discipline.

This Journal aims to foster global participation and to attract the submission of the best student research in archaeology, regardless of academic institution, nationality, gender, ethnicity or religion, in order to enhance international cooperation and mutual understanding. Therefore, this Journal does not charge submission or publication fees. Assistance with academic English of those publishable articles written by non-native speakers will be provided.

The intellectual property of anything published in the Journal remains the respective authors’, who are free to reproduce it in whatever way, upon acknowledging this Journal as the first place of publication.The publication of previously unpublished data should be authorised by the relevant academic tutor/supervisor.

The deadline for submissions for the first issue is September 1st 2015. E-mail for

Call for Papers available here:

More information is available in our Facebook page:

Kind regards,

Gonzalo Linares
Executive Editor of the International Journal of Student Research in Archaeology
BA Archaeology & Anthropology, University of Oxford (UK)ás

Strong reaction needed to avoid deep NSF funding cuts

Dear Colleagues,
As many of you will know via messages from various societies, next week Congress will debate a bill – America Competes Act of 2015 (H.R. 1806) – which if it were to become law will cut NSF social sciences funding – i.e. including archaeology – by 45%, i.e. destroy its support from its already rather pathetic level. This is back to the issue of the past 18 months and is again led by Lamar Smith (R, Texas).

Please voice your opposition by calling or writing your representative; you can also send a message to Congress here:
[You will know this worked when you receive a form-letter response from your Congressman]

Some information via the Consortium of Social Sciences (COSSA) is available at:

As last time (late 2013-2014) we should all look to find ways to oppose and to ARGUE why this is bad thing – versus just be against or say ‘bad Republicans’. In particular we should advocate ‘why Archaeology’ as our part of this campaign.

Please write to your Representative.
Last year this worked for our local Republican. Doing nothing will only assist in the destruction of what little federal support there is for archaeology – so please react.

Sturt Manning

CIAMS Awards Over $30,000 in Student Funding for Research and Travel

bresto headerWith the generous support of the Hirsch family, this Spring CIAMS awarded over $15,000 for archaeology-related travel to Cornell undergraduates and graduates, and over $15,000 to graduate students for archaeological research projects.  These funds will help Cornell archaeology students work around the globe, in New York, Belize, Italy, Georgia, Israel, Tunisia, and Cyprus. Congratulations and good luck to all awardees.

Archaeology Pizza lunch and fieldwork discussion

pizza lunch fieldwork Apr 2015Join archaeology students and faculty to eat free pizza from Ned’s and learn about finding and doing fieldwork. Open to all interested students and faculty who want to share or learn about archaeolocial field experiences. 
Friday April 24, 2015 at 1:00–2:00 pm in the Landscapes and Objects Lab, 125 McGraw Hall. Hosted by CIAMS and the Undergraduate Program in Archaeology.