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Scholar in Turkish Archeology Is
Director of the Oriental Institute

by Sel Erder YACKLEY, Midwest Correspondent

The Oriental Institute, the University of Chicago, has announced that Prof. Gil J. Stein has become its new director following the retirement of Gene Gragg July 1st.  The news was received enthusiastically by the Turkish Community, which has been a long-time supporter of the OI and the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. NELC has one of the best Hittite, Turkish Studies and the Ottoman History and Literature curricula in the United States.

"I am honored to have been offered this position, and excited about having the opportunity to work with and on behalf of my colleagues at the Oriental Institute. There is no other place in the world that has, under one roof, such a concentration of superb archaeologists and textual scholars specializing in the ancient Near East and Egypt," said Dr. Stein.

Prof. Gil J. Stein

Prof. Stein comes to the University of Chicago from the Anthropology Department of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. From 1992-1997 he directed the Northwestern University excavations at the Late Chalcolithic/Uruk (ca. 4000-3100 BC) site of Hacinebi in the Euphrates river valley of southeast Turkey, in a project sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Geographic Society.

"I plan to do everything possible to encourage Oriental Institute research in ALL its areas of scholarly strength. One of the most important of these is Anatolia.  With the researchers working on the Hittite dictionary and the archaeologists specializing in Anatolian archaeology, the Oriental Institute is already one of the most important centers of scholarship in this field. Prof. Yener's ongoing research project in the Amuq at Tell Atchana is one of the best examples of this important and path-breaking research.  I am eager to continue and develop the role of the Oriental Institute in bringing to light the ancient civilizations of Anatolia," he said.

Stein's colleague, Prof. Aslihan Yener, an OI and  NELC faculty member, said: "As a scholar of Anatolian archaeology, I am very pleased that someone of Gil Stein's caliber was appointed Director of the Oriental Institute-the prime institution of ancient Near Eastern research in the United States. Well-known as an outstanding expert of early complex societies, his expertise of the southeast Tigris-Euphrates region around Urfa will expand the range, scope and quality of studies in the archaeology and languages of ancient Turkey here," she added.  Prof. Yener has been excavating in the Amuq Valley, Hatay region for the last seven years.  "Gil's remarkable fluency in Turkish, his love of excavating in Turkey and his training of Turkish students has nurtured appreciation for the diversity of ancient cultures in Turkey among a wide audience.  I welcome him as a colleague and look forward to working with him."

Dr. Stein received his BA with honors in archaeology from Yale University in 1978 and his PhD in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1988. He has excavated and surveyed in the American Southwest (Arizona and New Mexico), Syria, and most recently in Turkey, where he has been working since 1981.

Dr. Stein has been a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow, a Fulbright Scholar in Turkey (1982-83) a post-doctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Institution (1988-89), a Resident Scholar at the School of American Research (1994-95), and has held a Howard fellowship from Brown University in 1997-98.         

Dr. Stein lived in Ankara while doing his dissertation research.  Over a 21-year-period, he conducted archeological surveys, excavations and worked in museums in southeastern Turkey including Adiyaman and Sanliurfa. "I hope to continue my research in this important region in the future. From these experiences, I have developed lasting friendships with Turkish colleagues, and have developed a deep love and respect for Turkish culture and history," he added.

"Our hope is to continue and expand cooperation between Turkish and American scholars who study the textual and archaeological remains of Anatolian civilizations. Our shared goals in this regard are best summarized by the words of Ataturk (inscribed on the walls of the Turkish Historical Society - Turk Tarih Kurumu): "Tarih yazmak, tarih yapmak kadar muhimdir" ("Writing history is as important as making history").

Fluent in Turkish, Dr. Stein's main research interests focus on the development of early civilizations in the Near East and the archaeology of ancient colonies. He has also conducted research on the economic organization of state societies, craft specialization, Neolithic subsistence systems, and zooarchaeology. He has written over 35 journal articles, book chapters, and reviews, and the book Rethinking World Systems: Diasporas, Colonies, and Interaction in Uruk Mesopotamia (University of Arizona Press 1999).  He also is the co-editor (with Mitchell Rothman) of the book Chiefdoms and Early States in the Near East: The Organizational Dynamics of Complexity (Madison, Prehistory Press - 1994).

Results of the Hacinebi excavations can be seen on the world wide web at:

His appointment at the University of Chicago will be as a Professor in the department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.

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