Catherine Kearns

Biography and Interests: 

Areas of Specialization: classical archaeology; Bronze-Iron Age social, cultural, political history; landscape and environments; archaeological method and theory; spatiality

My work focuses on human-environment relationships, landscape practices, and concepts of space and place in the ancient Mediterranean during the dynamic first millennium BCE.  My archaeological fieldwork has most recently centered on the island of Cyprus, where I investigate the formation of social and political landscapes alongside the rise of Iron Age polities and economic networks, ca. 900-500 BCE.  Using an interdisciplinary research framework that combines archaeological evidence, geophysics, paleoenvironmental analysis, and historical texts, I examine the interplay between environmental change and the growth and maintenance of social inequalities.  Most recently, I have co-directed geophysical survey with the Kalavasos and Maroni Built Environments (KAMBE) Project in south-central Cyprus, which seeks to investigate patterns of urbanism during the Late Bronze Age.  In 2016 I began intensive work at Iron Age sites in the Vasilikos Valley in order to study the development of countryside settlements and land use practices involved in the transition to the Archaic and Classical periods.

In my first book project, Unruly Landscapes: Society and Environment on Ancient Cyprus, I argue for an updated approach to investigating ancient landscapes in classical archaeology that takes seriously the materials and contexts of environments.  Drawing upon recent advances in theorizing climatic and environmental change in the fields of geography, anthropology, and political ecology, I build a framework for examining shifting landscapes and aim to recuperate the participation of countryside communities and practices in the growth of polities, trade networks, and social boundaries during the 8th-7th centuries BCE.  My other publications all center on these interests in spatiality, landscape, and paleoenvironments, as well as the history of archaeological thought.  Currently, I am working on manuscripts that explore the spatial imaginations of Cyprus in Greek and Roman texts, as well as archaeological engagement with the controversial concept of the Anthropocene epoch. These interests also guide my teaching, which covers topics such as ancient geography, rural/urban dynamics, environmental archaeology, and the ancient histories of the eastern Mediterranean. 

Publications: 

  • Kearns, C. "Re-survey and spatial analysis of landscape developments during the first millennium BC on Cyprus." Antiquity Project Gallery, 90.353. In press (2016).
  • Kearns, C. "Archaeology and the Anthropocene: constructing environmental histories of the ancient Mediterranean." In special issue of History Compass, A. Bryen (ed), forthcoming (fall/winter 2016).
  • Manning, S., G.M. Andreou, K.D. Fisher, P. Gerard-Little, C. Kearns, J. Leon, D. Sewell and T. Urban. 2014. "Becoming urban: investigating the anatomy of the Maroni Late Bronze Age urban complex, Cyprus." Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 27.1: 3-32.
  • Kearns, C. 2013. On a clear day the Taurus Mountains hang like a cloud: on environmental thought in the archaeology of Cyprus. In A.B. Knapp, J.M. Webb and A. McCarthy (eds.), J.R.B. Stewart: An Archaeological Legacy (Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology Vol. 139), 121-132. Uppsala: Åströms Förlag. 
  • In progress. Unruly Environments: Society and Environment on Ancient Cyprus.

Courses: 

  • Ancient Mediterranean World I
  • The Greek Countryside
  • Ancient Mediterranean Environments
  • Strabo's World