James Osborne

Assistant Professor of Anatolian Archaeology

The Oriental Institute  230

Office hours: Mon, 2:30-4:00pm

(773) 702-0568

Ph.D. Harvard University, 2011

James Osborne is an archaeologist who works in the eastern Mediterranean and ancient Near East during the Early Bronze and Iron Ages. He focuses especially on Anatolia, a region that is today within the Republic of Turkey, during the late second and early first millennium BCE. Most of James’ publications have concentrated on the intersection of space and power, using analysis of Anatolian monumental buildings, cities, and settlement patterns during the Iron Age as his primary subject matter. Methodologically, he incorporates quantitative methods like GIS and space syntax with native historical and iconographic sources.


James is currently working on a monograph titled The Syro-Anatolian City-States: Portraits of an Iron Age Culture. This book, under contract with Oxford University Press, is intended to provide a synthetic overview of the Syro-Anatolian world by focusing on a number of relevant themes, including relations with Assyria and Mesopotamia, interactions with the Aegean and the Greek world during the so-called Orientalizing Period, political economy, and conceptions of space and place. A general interest in spatial theory and its relationship with political authority has led to two edited volumes, one titled Approaching Monumentality in Archaeology (2014), and one titled Territoriality in Archaeology (2013), co-edited with Parker VanValkenburgh.


In the field, James Osborne is Director of the Tayinat Lower Town Project (TLTP), an exploration of the large lower settlement of the archaeological site of Tell Tayinat in Turkey’s Hatay province. This portion of the site – which in the Iron Age was named Kunulua, capital of the kingdom of Patina – is where the city’s non-elite sector was located. With TLTP James hopes to address two long-term research initiatives. The first concerns issues of craft production and specialization: Iron Age cities like Tell Tayinat are thought to be the source of the famous luxury objects made in metals bronze, ivory, and stone that have been found across the entire ancient Near East. His second major research question surrounds the region-wide Iron Age diaspora sparked by the Neo-Assyrian Empire’s policy of forced migration, deportation, and resettlement of conquered regions. Historical inscriptions attest that Kunulua was deported and then repopulated with deportees from southeastern Iraq, offering a rare opportunity to study the material consequences of population movement and culture contact.


After receiving his PhD from Harvard University in 2011, James Osborne was a postdoctoral scholar at SUNY Buffalo’s Institute for European and Mediterranean Archaeology (IEMA), a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Johns Hopkins University, and a postdoctoral fellow at Brown University’s Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World. 


For a full list of publications including offprints, please see my website: https://chicago.academia.edu/JamesOsborne


  • J. F. Osborne, ed. 2014. Approaching Monumentality in Archaeology. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
  • J. F. Osborne and N. P. VanValkenburgh, eds. 2013. Territoriality in Archaeology. Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association, Vol. 22. Arlington, VA: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • J. F. Osborne. In prep. The Syro-Anatolian City-States: Portraits of an Iron Age Culture. Under contract with Oxford University Press.


  • J. F. Osborne. 2014. “Monuments and Monumentality,” pp. 1-19 in Approaching Monumentality in Archaeology. J. F. Osborne, ed. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
  • J. F. Osborne and G. D. Summers. 2014. Visibility Graph Analysis and Monumentality in the Iron Age City at Kerkenes in Central Turkey. Journal of Field Archaeology 39/3: 292-309.
  • J. F. Osborne. 2014. Settlement Planning and Urban Symbology in Syro-Anatolian Cities. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 24/2: 195-214.
  • J. F. Osborne. 2013. Sovereignty and Territoriality in the City-State: A Case Study from the Amuq Valley, Turkey. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 32: 774-790.
  • N. P. VanValkenburgh and J. F. Osborne. 2013. “Home Turf: Archaeology, Territoriality, and Politics,” pp. 1-27 in Territoriality in Archaeology. J. F. Osborne and N. P. VanValkenburgh, eds. Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association. Arlington, VA: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • J. F. Osborne. 2012. Communicating Power in the Bīt-Ḫilāni Palace. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 368: 29-66.
  • T. P. Harrison and J. F. Osborne. 2012. Building XVI and the Neo-Assyrian Sacred Precinct at Tell Tayinat. Journal of Cuneiform Studies 64: 125-143.
  • J. F. Osborne. 2011. Secondary Mortuary Practice and the Bench Tomb: Structure and Practice in Iron Age Judah. Journal of Near Eastern Studies 70/1: 35-53.