Rune Rattenborg

Researcher at Department of Linguistics and Philology

+4618-471 7019
Visiting address:
Engelska parken
Thunbergsvägen 3H

Postal address:
Box 635
751 26 UPPSALA

Short presentation

I am an archaeologist and assyriologist specialising in the Bronze Age Middle East (c. 3000-1200 BCE). In my research, I take a particular interest in comparative, data-driven approaches to the study of social and economic structure and landscape history, integrating text and material culture. As a teacher, I am engaged primarily in teaching courses on the history, archaeology, and language of the ancient Middle East, specifically the cuneiform world.

Keywords: digital humanities archaeology cuneiform landscape spatial humanities assyriology middle east geographical information systems

I received my BA (2009) and MA (2012) in Assyriology from the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies of the University of Copenhagen. I subsequently took up doctoral research with the Department of Archaeology of the University of Durham, generously supported by a Durham Doctoral Scholarship (2012-2015) from the Faculty of Social Sciences and Health. My work at Durham, conducted as part of the AHRC-funded Fragile Crescent Project, aimed at integrating textual and archaeological data in order to gauge the relative and absolute scale of political economies of Middle Bronze Age Northern Mesopotamia through a detailed study of cuneiform assemblages and archaeological survey indices from six specific locales (Rattenborg 2017).

Having received my PhD in Archaeology (2017), I spent a year in Berlin before obtaining a research position with the ERC-funded Persia and Its Neighbours-project of the University of Durham in January 2018. Here, I worked with remote sensing of upland sites in northeast Iran. I came to Uppsala in June 2018 as a researcher with the project Memories for Life: Materiality and Memory of Ancient Near Eastern Inscribed Private Objects based at the Department of Linguistics and Philology and funded by the Swedish Research Council.

I am also an experienced field archaeologist, having participated in archaeological excavations in Jordan, Syria, and Iran, regularly since 2007. As a long-time instructor, and ultimately assistant director of the Islamic Jarash Project of the University of Copenhagen, I have written or co-authored multiple articles on the history and archaeology of northwest Jordan during the Late Antique and Early Islamic ages (e.g. Rattenborg and Blanke 2017).

Trained both as an assyriologist and an archaeologist, my research traverses the interface between the written word and material culture, drawing also on prolonged engagements with a variety of digital tools for data integration and analysis, including database design and curation, remote sensing, and geospatial analysis. I take a particular interest in broader, comparative research designs utilising digital applications to move beyond traditional analogue approaches to archaeological and textual data.

As of January 2020, I am the Co-PI (with Jakob Andersson as PI) of a three-year research project entitled Geomapping Landscapes of Writing (GLoW), aimed at developing a global index and assessment of the scale, composition and distribution of the more than 500,000 cuneiform texts currently known. This project is generously sponsored by a grant from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond Mixed Methods programme. Concurrently, I am the network coordinator of TextWorlds: Global Mapping of Texts from the Pre-Modern World, a two-year (2020-2021) network initiative involving researchers at the Department of Linguistics and Philology, the Department of Scandinavian Languages, the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, and the Department of Archives, Libraries, and Museums.

My current key responsibilities includes the overall supervision of data collection and integration within Geomapping Landscapes of Writing (GLoW), and undertaking analyses of broader patterns in the distribution and use of writing in the cuneiform world. As the network coordinator, of TextWorlds, another area of work is the integration and assembly of data from around the world to develop shared approaches to writing in the ancient world, and a broader understanding of the place that writing has held in ancient societies. Next to my regular duties, I am engaged with the editing and preparation for publication of an archaeological survey of the area round Tal‘afar in northwest Iraq, a project which has received financial support from the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters and the Danish Institute in Damascus.

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Rune Rattenborg