David Schloen

Associate Professor of Syro-Palestinian Archaeology

Ph.D. Harvard University, 1995.
Teaching at Chicago since 1994.

Special Interests

Economy and society of the Levant in the Bronze and Iron Ages; the material basis for symbols of social order; biblical archaeology; digital humanities (especially database design for textual and archaeological research)

David Schloen is a faculty member in the Oriental Institute and the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations of the University of Chicago, where he is also an associated faculty member of the Divinity School. He specializes in the archaeology and history of the ancient Levant (Syria and Palestine) from ca. 3000 to 300 BCE. Over the past two decades he has conducted archaeological excavations in Israel and Turkey. In Israel, he has directed excavations at the Early Bronze Age site of Yaqush in the Jordan Valley, and from 1994 to 2002 he was the associate director of the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon on the Mediterranean coast, for which he remains the co-editor and joint author of a series of excavation report volumes. In 2003 and 2004 he was the associate director of excavations at the Middle and Late Bronze Age site of Alalakh (Tell Atchana) near the Syrian border in what is today southern Turkey. Since 2006 he has been the director of the University of Chicago's Neubauer Expedition to Zincirli (pronounced "Zin-jeer-lee"), a nearby site in southern Turkey, working with a large multinational team to excavate the Iron Age walled city of Sam'al for two months each year (see http://zincirli.uchicago.edu).

The need to manage large quantities of diverse data from his archaeological projects prompted him to draw on his early academic training as a computer science major and his professional experience as a programmer to develop, in collaboration with his wife, Sandra Schloen, an innovative online system for integrating, analyzing, and preserving digital information about archaeological finds and ancient texts. This system is described in their recent book, entitled OCHRE: An Online Cultural and Historical Research Environment, and the system has now been made available for use by academic research projects of all kinds through the University of Chicago's OCHRE Data Service (see http://ochre.uchicago.edu).

As a historian of ancient culture, David Schloen's longstanding ambition has been to understand the structure and operation of the small kingdoms that flourished in the eastern Mediterranean region during the Bronze and Iron Ages, and especially to explicate the interaction between day-to-day social practices and the shared metaphors and narratives that sustained, and were sustained by, those practices. His book on The House of the Father as Fact and Symbol focuses on the Bronze Age (3000–1200 BCE) and he is working on a companion volume that examines the transformations that occurred during the Iron Age (1200–500 BCE), when new political identities and economic structures emerged. Concerning ancient Israel, in particular, he is currently completing a book entitled The Bible and Archaeology: Exploring the History and Mythology of Ancient Israel (to be published by Yale University Press), which explains how ancient artifacts, inscriptions, and other archaeological discoveries shed light on biblical narratives.

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