Susannah Fishman


B.A. History, McGill University

Research Interests

My research explores the interrelationships between technological choices and social-political contexts through the analysis of archaeological ceramics, with a particular focus on imperial peripheries. Political context shapes economic opportunities, consumer preferences, and labor conditions that result in changing technological practices. In return, changes in technological practices can remake the political landscape, as the desire for certain luxury goods, new methods of food preparation, and previously unknown trade partners become essential in constructing local identities. Using petrography, neutron activation analysis, scanning electron microscopy, x-ray diffraction, surface feature analysis and stylistic analysis, it is possible to reconstruct ancient production and exchange patterns, and thereby see how people were building new material and social relationships. My research focuses on local-imperial engagements from the Early Iron Age to the Late Antique Period in the South Caucasus, when the region became entangled with the Urartian, Achaemenid, Seleucid, Roman, and Parthian Empires. I am currently co-directing the Lerik Archaeological Project, which explores how highland communities in the Talysh mountains made local cultures as the crossroads of empire from the Late Iron Age to the Late Antique Periods (c 500 BCE- 500 CE). Previously, my research was conducted primarily at the site of Oglanqala, Azerbaijan, focusing on the Early Iron Age to the Roman Periods, with additional work on the Middle Bronze Age. Additionally, I am working on a project in Smith Creek, Mississippi that explores how ceramic technological change relates to the shift from egalitarian Coles Creek societies to hierarchical Plaquemine societies in 800-1200 CE.