Lauren Erker

Diverging Paths: A Socio-archaeological Investigation of Rural Settlement in Ottoman Palestine and Transjordan

ACOR-CAORC Predoctoral Fellowship, 2021–2022

University of Bonn; Bonn (Germany)
Islamic Archaeology

Lauren Erker is a PhD student of the Islamic Archaeology Department at the University of Bonn, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Bethany Walker. She obtained a MSc from the University of Edinburgh in late antique, Byzantine, and Islamic studies and a BA in anthropology from the Metropolitan State University of Denver. Erker is conducting research on the archaeology of rural settlement in Palestine and its neighboring regions during the Ottoman period. Synthesizing the archaeological and historical information for this period, particularly in the West Bank, where archaeological investigations of the period are extremely scarce and past reports have been stored away and forgotten, principally interests her. She believes that the elaboration of the Islamic period is key in bridging the massive gap that exists between modern and ancient history in the region, while simultaneously upending some of the dangerous assumptions and romantic sentiments tied to the Holy Land and the Middle East in general.

This project will explore the archaeology of peasant populations in Transjordan and Palestine over the course of the Ottoman period. Themes that will be explored include migration, settlement patterns, land-use patterns, differences in social structures, and how these manifested in the landscape. The transregional comparison that this project aims to produce will facilitate further research into the events that set these regions on different evolutionary trajectories and how the events of the late medieval period set the stage for what would unfold in the modern period. One of the main goals of this research is to develop a typology of rural sites using geographic information systems (GIS) software. Arabic terms found in contemporaneous historical documents allude to the diversity of rural sites in these regions and will provide the foundation for the development of this typology, which will be expanded upon using archaeological data.

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