Daniel Calderbank

Email: daniel.calderbank@postgrad.manchester.ac.uk

Twitter: @D_Calderbank

Academia: https://manchester.academia.edu/DCalderbank

Previous Education

2009-2012 – BA (Hons.) Ancient History and Archaeology- First Class
The University of Manchester

2012-2013 – MA Archaeology- Distinction
The University of Manchester

Thesis Title

Moulding Clay to Model Society: ceramic function and social identity at Tell Khaiber


Prof. Stuart Campbell
Dr. Lindy Crewe

Research Summary

Archaeological fieldwork in southern Iraq has been at a standstill for the past thirty years. Recently, however, a team from the University of Manchester began excavations at the site of Tell Khaiber, an administrative centre situated in the Babylonian countryside, 20km north-west of ancient Ur. Material culture and cuneiform tablets date this site to c.1500 BC, precisely in the heart of an ostensibly illiterate “dark age”, which was thought to have engulfed the region after the collapse of the centralised Babylonian state in c.1700 BC.

Despite this large-scale political instability, scholars have often assumed continuity in overarching material traditions throughout the 2nd millennium BC. Through modern scientific techniques of material and distributive analysis, my research examines in detail the everyday patterns of pottery production and use at Tell Khaiber. By extension, we can then begin to recognise the shifting social and economic networks expressed in these small-scale behaviours, and reconcile these with the emergence of new, complex political and social identities in this period.

Research Interests

Near Eastern archaeology; early complex societies; Iraqi cultural heritage; Sealand period; pottery forming techniques; acquisition, application, and transmission of technological skill; organic residue analysis; social identities; performativity; commensal practices.


Calderbank, D., and Moon, J: (2016) A Ceramic Assemblage of the Early Literate Periods from Sumer. In Heffron, Y., A.B. Stone and M.J. Worthington (eds.) At the Dawn of History: Ancient Near Eastern Studies in Honour of J. Nicholas Postgate. Winona Lake. In press.

Campbell, S., Moon, J., Killick, R., Robson, E., Calderbank, D., Shepperson, M., Slater, F: (2016) Tell Khaiber: an administrative centre of the Sealand period. Iraq, 78(1) In press.