Sue Alcock on Archaeology

Sue Alcock is the Director of the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World at Brown University, and a recipient of numerous awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship.

Research Profile: Sue Alcock      

Sue Alcock is a classical archaeologist, with interests in the material culture of the eastern Mediterranean and western Asia, particularly in Hellenistic and Roman times. Much of her research to date has revolved around themes of landscape, imperialism, sacred space, and memory. She has been involved with fieldwork in Greece and Armenia, but she is now directing the Brown University Petra Archaeological Project (BUPAP), exploring numerous aspects of the urban site and rural hinterland of Petra in southern Jordan.

Alcock was trained, at Yale and at the University of Cambridge, in the field of classical archaeology — that is the archaeology of the circum-Mediterranean world. As noted, she has principally worked on Hellenistic and Roman cultures (late first millennium BC/early first millennium AD) in the eastern Mediterranean and western Asia, but she has also worked on the long-term history of Messenia (southern Greece), the homeland of the famed ‘helots’ of antiquity. Her research has taken her in various odd directions, but has fairly constant engaged with issues of landscape, imperialism, sacred space, and memory, while also attempting to blur the traditional distinction of ‘historian’ and ‘archaeologist.’

For most of her career, her fieldwork was located in Greece, and typically has taken the form of regional investigations, which privilege broad investigations of the landscape over specific site-based excavation. Alcock is a recognized proponent of the methodology of systematic pedestrian survey, and has pioneered this type of archaeological evidence as means to answer long-standing historical questions. Her fieldwork includes the urban survey of Phlius in the northeast Peloponnese (as part of the Nemea Valley Archaeological Project) and co-directorship of the Pylos Regional Archaeological Project (in Messenia, southwestern Greece) and the Vorotan Project in southern Armenia. She is currently directing the Brown University Petra Archaeological Project (BUPAP) in southern Jordan.