Gil Stein, one of the nation’s leading scholars of ancient Mesopotamia, has been reappointed as Director of the Oriental Institute, a position he has held since joining the University in 2002.
Stein, who is Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, does field work in Turkey, where he has overseen excavations that examine the development of early civilizations. He has directed a series of important excavations at Hacinebi, a 5,500-year-old Mesopotamian colony in the Euphrates River valley of southeast Turkey, which is part of the world's first-known colonial system.
During his first term as Director, he oversaw the completion of a reinstallation of artifacts in the institute’s museum and launched a number of important initiatives to strengthen the institute’s leadership in the study of the ancient Near East.
Under Stein’s direction, the number of field research projects the institute has sponsored has grown from five to eight. Scholars also have increased their use of technology under Stein’s leadership. He helped increase support for Center for Ancient Middle Eastern Landscapes (CAMEL), which uses satellite technology to view sites before excavation. The center also studies how land features played a role in the development of ancient civilization. Under Stein’s direction, the CAMEL lab was fully equipped for computers, and a director for the lab was hired.
Stein also has launched a post-doctoral fellowship program, which has led to an increase in support for academic conferences and workshops. Those multidisciplinary conferences have looked at subjects such as sacred kingship, writing, and funerary customs.
Grants have grown under his leadership, and the membership of the institute has increased to 2,306, with a 35 percent increase in contributions from members. The institute also has launched a $3 million Research Endowment Campaign to provide support for projects in the years to come.
In addition, the institute has secured funding for its three dictionary projects, the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, the Hittite Dictionary, and the Demotic Dictionary.
“We look forward in Gil's second term to the Oriental Institute reinforcing its position as a global center for the study of the past, with deeper dialogue between the text and field areas within the institute, and strengthened connections throughout the University and to Argonne National Laboratory,” said Provost Thomas Rosenbaum.
Stein has been a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow, a Fulbright Scholar in Turkey, a post-doctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Institution, a Resident Scholar at the School of American Research and has held a Howard Fellowship from Brown University.
He has written a book, Rethinking World Systems: Diasporas, Colonies, and Interaction in Uruk Mesopotamia. He is the co-editor (with Mitchell Rothman) of the book Chiefdoms and Early States in the Near East: The Organizational Dynamics of Complexity and editor of The Archaeology of Colonial Encounters and The Uruk Expansion: Northern Perspectives from Hacinebi, Hassek Höyük, and Gawra. He has also written more than 50 journal articles, numerous book chapters and reviews.
Prior to joining the University, Stein was a professor of anthropology at Northwestern University. He received his B.A. in archaeology from Yale University in 1978 and his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1988.