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Dr Mike Brass

Born in July 1977, educated at South African College Schools, I obtained my Bachelor of Arts degrees in Archaeology and History from the University of Cape Town in 1998. In 1999, I completed my Bachelor of Social Sciences Honours year in Archaeology which is the first year of postgraduate studies in South Africa. I undertook my MA in Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, in 2003-4 where I also completed my Ph.D from 2008 - 2016.

Brief biography

As an undergraduate, I was involved with excavations of Professor John Parkington (former Head of Department) at Elands Bay on the Southern African Cape West Coast in 1997 and Judy Sealy at Atlantic Beach (also on the S.A. Cape West Coast) in 1998. In 1997, participated on an expedition to record Bushman rock art in the Cederberg mountain range, under the guidance of John Lanham, Tony Manhire (both of the Spatial Archaeology Research Unit) and Roydon Yates (Iziko South African Museum). As a postgraduate Honours student, I supervised the then undergraduate students at Atlantic Beach.

I was the chairman of U.C.T.'s Archaeological Field Club in 1998 and 1999, and a member of The Egyptian Society of South Africa and The South African Archaeological Society during the same period. As chairman of the Archaeological Field Club, I led (with the assistance of the vice-chairman, Matt Chiswell, and the secretary, Nirdev Desai) two field trips: (1) to the late Holocene site of Rooi Els en route to the Acheulian and Middle Stone Age site of Hangklip (Cape East Coast), and to the Cederberg in 1999. In May 1999, the Field Club arranged for a demonstration by deceased astronomer Associate-Professor Tony Fairall at Cape Town's Planetarium, open to any U.C.T. student or staff member, of his rebuttal to Robert Bauval's contention that the layout of the Egyptian Giza pyramids mirror the belt stars of the constellation Orion. In addition, the Field Club organised lectures on the Dead Sea Scrolls (by Dr Tilly Reisenbeger of U.C.T.'s Center for Jewish Studies) and the origins of fire (by Dr Matt Spanheimer, then a visiting researcher in U.C.T.'s Archaeology department) were given during the second half of 1999.

In my private capacity, I participated as a volunteer on the 1996 Tel Miqne - Ekron excavation in Israel. This was the 13th and last session involving this principal Caananite Biblical city.

During my third year, I wrote, under the supervisorship of Associate-Professor Andrew B. Smith, a dissertation on "The Origins of the Cattle Cult in Ancient Egypt". My subsequent Honours dissertation was on "The Origins of Modern Human Behaviour", for which I was supervised by Professor Judy Sealy, who is the current Head of Department.

My Masters dissertation (supervisor, Dr Kevin MacDonald) looked at how social complexity evolved in early North African pastoral societies. My Ph.D and subsequent ongoing research focused and focuses on the vast mortuary complex of Jebel Moya, south-central Sudan. Jebel Moya is the largest and most intensively excavated pastoralist cemetery in sub-Saharan Africa. As such and due to its position on the southern frontier zone of the Meroitic State, the site is central to a number of research questions such as the nature of fluid interactions between state and non-state actors, identity, mortuary rites, social structure, population movements and trade networks.

In addition, I am currently a member of the Society of Africanist Archaeologists and The Sudan Archaeological Research Society. Finally, I was a founder member and the former chairman of the British Centre for Science Education, which opposes attempts by creationists to have their materials taught as science (or "critiques of evolution") in school science classrooms.

Conferences

June 2015. Jebel Moya: a pastoral mortuary complex on the southern frontier of the Meroitic State. Dymaczewo Conference, Poznan
May 2015. Results from the re-investigation of Henry Wellcome's 1911-14 excavations at Jebel Moya. Sudanese Archaeological Research Society: British Museum, London
January 2015. At the frontier of early States: Zones of interaction in Sudanic North-East Africa. BANEA, Institute of Archaeology, University College London
October 2014. Dwelling in a frontier landscape: Social organisation on the southern boundary of the Meroitic State. Expanding Boundaries conference, Institute of Archaeology, University College London
June 2014. Co-organiser of a workshop at UCL and Cambridge on the archeobotanics and social structures of the southern Gezira and Atbai regions, and inter-regional connectivity.
July 2013. Co-organiser of a workshop in Naples on the ceramics of the southern Gezira and Atbai regions, and inter-regional connectivity.
December 2012. A frontier perspective from pastoral societies living on the southern edge of the Meroitic State. End of Empires conference, MacDonald Institute, University of Cambridge
July 2011. Jebel Moya: Initial re-investigation into the archaeology of south-central Sudan. Dymaczewo Conference, Poznan [http://slajdzik.pl/slajd/lpnea-conference-2011-43752]
October 2010. Jebel Moya: Initial re-investigation into the archaeology of south-central Sudan. African Archaeology Research Day, Cambridge
May 2009. Social organisation at Jebel Moya, south-central Sudan, 5th - 1st millennium BC. Sudanese Archaeological Research Society: British Museum, London
September 2008. Pastoral social organisation at Jebel Moya, south-central Sudan, 5th - 1st millennium BC. Society of Africanist Archaeologists: Frankfurt, Germany.
November 2007. Investigating long-term changes in Saharan pastoral social organisation, 6000 - 1000 BC. African Archaeology Research Day 4, 24 November: Oxford University
June 2006. Analysing socio-economic and ideological changes in late Holocene Saharan hunter-gatherer and early pastoral societies. Society of Africanist Archaeologists: Calgary, Canada. Abstracts available; click on the links within to access the available PowerPoint presentations.
August 2005. Analysing socio-economic and ideological changes in late Holocene Saharan hunter-gatherer and early pastoral societies. British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology: London
January 2005. Investigating the origins of social complexity in early Saharan pastoralists. Current Research in Egyptology VI: University of Cambridge
December 2001. On the origins of the cattle cult in Ancient Egypt. Current Research in Egyptology III: University of Birmingham

Publications

2016. Reinterpreting chronology and society at the mortuary complex of Jebel Moya (Sudan). Oxford: Cambridge Monographs in African Archaeology 92, Archaeopress. [Open Access download link: http://www.archaeopress.com/Public/download.asp?id=%7B0D367A52-873B-4664-8701-1FCD9DD874A2%7D]
2015. Interactions and pastoralism along the southern and southeastern frontiers of the Meroitic state, Sudan. Journal of World Prehistory 28(4): 1-34.
2015. Results from the re-investigation of Henry Wellcome's 1911-14 excavations at Jebel Moya. Sudan & Nubia 19: 170-180.
2015. Mortuary theory, pottery and social complexity at Jebel Moya cemetery, south-central Sudan. In Kabacinski, J., Chlodnicki, M. and Kobusiewicz, M. (eds) Hunter-gatherers and early food producing societies in Northeastern Africa. Studies in African Archaeology 14. Poznan Archaeological Museum.
2014. The Southern Frontier of the Meroitic State: The View from Jebel Moya. African Archaeological Review: DOI: 10.1007/s10437-014-9164-5
Brass, M. & Schwenniger, J.-L. 2013. Jebel Moya (Sudan): New dates from a mortuary complex at the southern Meroitic frontier. Azania: DOI: 10.1080/0067270X.2013.843258
2013. Revising a hoary chestnut: The nature of early cattle domestication in North-East Africa. Sahara 24: 65-71
2012. Review of Heiko Reimer, Frank Forster, Michael Herb and Nadja Pollath (eds.), Desert Animals in the Eastern Sahara: Status, Economic Significance, and Cultural Reflection in Antiquity (Koln, Heinrich-Barth Institut). African Archaeological Review 29(1): 71-73
2009. Towards an archaeology of social organisation at Jebel Moya, 5th – 1st millennium BC. Sudan & Nubia 13: 120-125
2009. Review of J. Desmond Clark and Diane Gifford-Gonzalez's (eds.) "Adrar Bous: Archaeology of a Central Saharan Granitic Ring Complex in Niger" (Tervuren, Royal Museum for Central Africa). African Archaeological Review 26(2): 159-161
2008. Review of David Wengrow's "The Archaeology of Early Egypt: Social Transformations in North-East Africa, 10,000 to 2650 BC" (Cambridge University Press). Archaeological Review from Cambridge 23(2)
2007. Review of Sandra Blakely's "Myth, Ritual, and Metallurgy in Ancient Greece and Recent Africa" (Cambridge University Press). Archaeological Review from Cambridge 22(1)
2007. Reconsidering the emergence of social complexity in early Saharan pastoral societies, 5000 - 2500 BC. Sahara 18: 1-16
2006. Archaeology and Gender Studies. In Birx, H. J. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Anthropology, 224-246. Sage Publications, volume 1
2006. Sahara Anthropology. In Birx, H. J. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Anthropology, 2042-2044. Sage Publications, volume 5
2006. Urbanism in Ancient Egypt. In Birx, H. J. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Anthropology, 2258-2259. Sage Publications, volume 5
2006. Tools and Evolution. In Birx, H. J. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Anthropology, 2209-2215. Sage Publications, volume 5
2003. Tracing the Origins of the Ancient Egyptian Cattle Cult. In, Eyma, A. K. & Bennett, C. J. (eds.) A Delta-man in Yebu. Occasional Volume of the Egyptologists' Electronic Forum, no.1
2002. The Antiquity of Man: Artifactual, Fossil and Gene Records Explored. Baltimore: PublishAmerica (out of print but downloadable in pdf)
1999. Co-authored. Review of Michael Rice's Egypt's Making: The Origins of Ancient Egypt 5000 - 2000 BC. World Archaeological Bulletin 10


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