New museum director leads archaeologists at Tell BrakBy William Harms
Geoff Emberling, an archaeologist with extensive research experience in Syria, will become Director of the Museum of the Oriental Institute on Wednesday, May 26, when he concludes his duties as field director of the Archaeological Expedition to Tell Brak, a joint project between the United States and Britain.
“Geoff is an extraordinarily talented young scholar who combines scholarly expertise, outstanding abilities as an archaeological field director and curatorial experience through his previous work in the Ancient Near East Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, said Gil Stein, Director of the Oriental Institute.
“With his specializations in Mesopotamian, Iranian and North Syrian archaeology, Geoff is the ideal person to lead the Museum of the Oriental Institute through the completion of our gallery installation, while defining new directions for this world-class collection of Near Eastern artifacts,” Stein added.
Emberling has been field director of the Archaeological Expedition to Tell Brak since 1997. Tell Brak developed as urban civilization was emerging in the upper Mesopotamian region during the fourth and third millennia B.C.
Emberling said he looks forward to working on the renovation of the Oriental Institute Museum. Its East gallery will be completed during the coming months and will contain Assyrian, Anatolian, Syrian and Israeli materials, including artifacts excavated at Megiddo, the site of the biblical Armageddon.
“It will be an exciting project, as we will be exploring issues of internationalism in the ancient Near East, as well as the concept of empire and how the local cultures figure into that,” he said.
Emberling gained knowledge of museums as an assistant curator in the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he worked from 1997 to 2000 during a major renovation.
“It was a great experience, as I had a chance to learn about the many different aspects of museums, from installation to writing the descriptive materials for the exhibition,” he said.
In addition to being field director, Emberling is a visiting assistant professor in Near Eastern Studies and an adjunct assistant research scientist at the Museum of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. His trip to Syria this spring is supported by a Fulbright Research Fellowship, and he has received grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society.
Emberling is the author of numerous articles and book chapters on a range of topics related to Near Eastern archaeology, including urban social transformation, early Bronze Age burials and the development of social identities.
He was a lecturer at the Carsten Niebuhr Institute of Near Eastern Studies, the University of Copenhagen, from 1996 to 1997.
Emberling received an A.B. in 1987 from Harvard University in anthropology. He received an M.A. in anthropology in 1991, an M.A. in Near Eastern studies in 1994 and a Ph.D. in anthropology and Near Eastern studies in 1995, all from the University of Michigan.