nes news

Professor Benjamin Porter has been appointed Acting Director of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology.

The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research selected Benjamin Porter, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Studies and curator of Near Eastern archaeology at the Hearst Museum since 2008, as an acting director of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology.

As an archaeologist, Porter investigates how past Middle Eastern and Mediterranean societies built resilient communities and institutions in arid and semi-arid zones. He directs field archaeology projects in Jordan at the Iron Age capitals of Dhiban and Busayra, as well as a Hearst Museum collections project researching evidence from Peter B. Cornwall’s 1941 expedition to Bahrain and Eastern Saudi Arabia.

More information is available through this link.

ASOR award


Professor Benjamin Porter has received the G. Ernest Wright award for his book Complex
Communities: The Archaeology of Early Iron Age West-Central Jordan
University of Arizona Press. The G. Ernest Wright awardis given to the editor/author of the most substantial volume(s) dealing with archaeological material, excavation reports and material culture from the ancient Near East and eastern Mediterranean. This work must be the result of original research published within the past two years.

New Faculty member

Egyptologist Rita Lucarelli joins the Department of Near Eastern Studies from the  Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Anthropology, Department of Egyptology, Bonn University. Her Egyptological specialties and areas of interest include: Religion of ancient Egypt; funerary culture and literature of ancient Egypt; history and translation of the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead; demonology in ancient Egypt and the Near East; magic in the ancient world; ancient Egyptian material culture and art; ancient Egyptian religious iconography; hieratic magical and funerary texts.


Mellon Sawyer Seminars

Starting in Fall 2012, the Department of Near Eastern Studies has been hosting a series of workshops, seminars, and conferences on the theme Graeco-Arabic Rationalism in Islamic Transmitted Sciences: The Post-Classical Period (ca. 1200-1900).  All events are open to the public and are funded generously by the Mellon Sawyer Seminars. Further details are available here: <>.

Facebook page to save ancient Egypt's El-Hibeh site arrow
El Hibeh (UC Berkeley Excavations)
Following a year's worth of looting, Professor Carol Redmount launches a social media campaign to rescue the archaeological site of El-Hibeh next to the Egyptian city of Beni Suef


NEH Grant

Niek Veldhuis (PI), Laurie Pearce (project director) and Patrick Schmitz (IST Data Services) were awarded an NEH Digital Humanities Start-up Grant for second-stage support for the development of Berkeley Prosopographic Services (BPS), a set of digital prosopographical and Social Network Analysis tools.  With an initial deployment on the Corpus of Legal Texts  from Hellenistic Uruk, BPS is providing important tools to scholars engaged in all periods of cuneiform research.  Their work has also received funding from the Berkeley HART Initiative and from Project Bamboo.


Professor Asad Q. Ahmed joins the Department of Near Eastern Studies in Fall 2012:

Asad Q. Ahmed (Ph.D. Princeton University, 2007) is delighted to join the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Berkeley. 
He specializes in early Islamic social and religious history and post-classical Muslim intellectual history.  In the former field, he focuses on the sociopolitical networks of the elite of the Hijaz during the first two centuries of the hijra.  By using prosopographical and social network analysis methods on genealogies, biographical dictionaries, and transmission chains, he investigates the significance of formal and informal groups for the development of early Muslim politics, society, and dogma.  These same methods have also allowed him to speculate on the metahistorical thrust of his sources and on the nature of kinship ties in early Islam.  Some of the conclusions of his work in this field are presented in *The Religious Elite of the Early Islamic Hijaz* (P&G, University of Oxford, 2011).  In the field of intellectual history, Asad's long term goal is to write a responsible history of the rationalist sciences (ma'qulat) after the so-called Golden Age of Islam.  Since such work first and foremost requires detailed and piecemeal studies of texts in logic, theology, philosophy, jurisprudence, etc., much of his output in this area focuses either on case studies of salient technical issues or on the rationalist tradition in pre-modern and early modern Muslim India.  In this area of scholarly interest, Asad has published *Avicenna's Deliverance: Logic* (Oxford University Press, 2011), in addition to a number of articles.  Asad's more general training includes classical Arabic poetry and poetics, Graeco-Arabica, and Qur'anic and Hadith studies.