I study the long-term sustainability of agriculture and land use, especially in the Mediterranean and western Asia. My research focuses on how people make decisions about land use within changing economic, social, and environmental settings, and how those decisions affect the environment at local and regional scales. A specialist in paleoethnobotany, the study of archaeological plant remains, my contributions to the field include novel ways of linking ecological theory with archaeological methods to reconstruct agricultural and land-use strategies from plant and animal remains.
My four major field projects are located in Turkey and Israel. I continue to work at Gordion, where I have worked for more than a decade and now direct paleoethnobotanical research for a new excavation campaign that began in 2013. I direct the Kerkenes Ecology and Environmental Archaeology Project at the site of Kerkenes in central Turkey, where I pursue research at two scales: into the effects of ancient and contemporary land use on the natural vegetation and geomorphology of the region, on the large scale, and into differential use of plant resources between and within individual households, on the small scale. I am also managing director of environmental research at Kaymakçı, a new project to investigate a Middle-Late Bronze Age site in western Turkey, directed by Chris Roosevelt and Christina Luke of BU. I direct botanical research at Ashkelon, a major multi-period urban site in coastal Israel where excavations have recently been completed.