I am an environmental archaeologist with a focus on zooarchaeology, and I study the social and ecological factors that shape animal pastoralism and the impact of pastoral adaptations on long-term trajectories of cultural development and environmental change across the highlands of Southwest Asia. I successfully defended my doctoral dissertation in December, 2018, at the Department of Anthropology, University of Connecticut. My dissertation was entitled Herding in the Highlands: Pastoralism and the Making of the Kura-Araxes Cultural Tradition.
In Summer 2019 I began work as a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI), where I will work on the development of the theoretical and empirical foundations of a novel analytical approach that will enhance existing archaeological methods of studying pastoralism. Specifically, I am integrating zooarchaeology, stable isotope studies, ethnographic studies, and human behavioral ecology to develop five ecological models of pastoralism that can reliably detect variability in pastoral adaptations in the archaeological record and that can be utilized to monitor patterned variations in large-scale diachronic and synchronic analyses. My dissertation applied the broad framework of these models to investigate significant variations in pastoral adaptations that contributed to or reflected the demographic, environmental, and climatic factors involved in a period of rapid cultural turnover in the South Caucasus at the end of the Chalcolithic period (5000–3500 BCE), and as part of the emergence of the Early Bronze Age Kura-Araxes cultural tradition (3500–2200 BCE); as well as the Kura-Araxes expansion across the Near East.
In addition to the preparation and publication of several manuscripts related to my dissertation, my postdoctoral research will focus on developing a new collaborative and cross-disciplinary project that will explore the social and environmental variables that informed the origins of agriculture and the organization of Neolithic economies on the Iranian Plateau in the eighth–sixth millennia BCE. In my position as a research associate, I also serve as UCHI’s social medial strategist, communications coordinator, and web designer.