For my PhD studies at the UCL Institute of Archaeology, I worked on The Figural World of the Southern Levant during the Late Iron Age, which I submitted in July 2016, and successfully defended in January 2017.
I am not planning to publish the thesis as is, but am currently working on transforming it into a monograph, taking the opportunity to work on the strengths of the project, and move further on some of the issues.
This study reconsiders the figurines of the Late Iron Age in the southern Levant. Previous research has often read figurine types in the near isolation, with a strong focus on the female figurines, and the Judean Pillar Figurines in particular, linking them to non-official rituals concerned with fertility or protection. This study moves away from this restrictive paradigm, and argues that all the figurines need to be studied as parts of a miniature figural world, which includes not only female figurines and other anthropomorphic types, but also figurines of horses and riders, other animals and things.
This research project works on two geographical scales. On the site level, a detailed study of the context and distribution of material from the sites of Jerusalem, Lachish and Megiddo allows for a reconsideration of the significance of figurines and their patterns of use and discard. On the regional level, the variation and commonality of the figurines is studied within the broader context of the southern Levant. This approach allows for an understanding of the figurines as part of a wider shared repertoire of miniature representation, while allowing for a consideration of regional differences.
The study also considers the world of social identities and meanings, expressed, produced and manipulated through the medium of these same figurines. This approach is informed by semiotic and post-structural debates, to explore how meaning is attached to the figurines both by their ancient users and modern interpreters. Moving from a narrow focus on the figurines themselves, it is possible to consider the persons and communities who made and used them.