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Department of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology

Bryn Mawr College
101 North Merion Avenue
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010-2899
Phone: (610) 526-5053/5334
Fax: (610) 526-7955


Peter Magee

PhD: The University of Sydney, 1996
Professor, Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology

Office: Thomas Hall 228
Office hours: by appointment only
Phone: 610-526-5385

Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests:
My research interests include the archaeology of imperialism in south and west Asia, human habitation of arid environments and the history of European exploration of the Middle East, particularly Arabia.

The substantive data with which the first two issues are addressed is gathered through archaeological fieldwork, re-examination of previously excavated material and archaeometric analysis. This has encompassed:

  • Since 1994, directing the on-going excavations of the Iron Age settlement of Muweilah in the United Arab Emirates. These excavations focus on the social and economic organisation of a settlement located in a hyper-arid environment and examine the manner in which external contacts with the then economic and political centres affected economic and social complexity in southeastern Arabia. Click here for a summary of the excavations at Muweilah.
  • Since 1997, co-directing the on-going excavations at the site of Akra in North-West Pakistan. This is part of the Bannu Archaeological Project and is co-directed with Prof. Farid Khan of the Pakistan Heritage Society, Mr. Robert Knox from the British Museum and Professor Ken Thomas from the Institute of Archaeology. My involvement in the project is driven by a desire to examine the effects of the Achaemenid (c.538-332BC) annexation of a periphery of its Empire. It has often been assumed that imperial episodes in south Asian prehistory were a catalyst for the emergence of economic and political complexity. This view was largely estabished during the period of colonial rule in what was then India and it is as reflective of the British view of the benefits of their own imperial activities as it is of their view of the past. This project seeks to examine this issue by providing fresh data on the economic, political and social configuration of settlements before during and after this imperial episode.
  • The examination and publication of the Iron Age material stored at Harvard University from the site of Tepe Yahya in southeastern Iran. This site is the only excavated Iron Age settlement in that region and its publication will provide for the first time an understanding of Iron Age cultural processes in this area.
  • Compositional analysis of ceramic samples from Iran, Pakistan, Mesopotamia and Arabia. Using the PIXE-PIGME technique this project has provided evidence for the complex trade networks which linked these areas in the first millennium BC and explores the relationship between political hegemony and economic interaction.



An Introduction to the Archaeology of the ancient Near East
Araby the Blest: The Archaeology of Arabia from 3000 to 300 BC
In the Land of the Buddha
The Archaeology of south Asian society in the first millennium BC
Women in the Ancient Near East
Ceramic Analysis
Archaeological Fieldwork Methods
Senior Seminar: Materials and Trade in the Late Bronze Age and early Iron Age in the Near East.

Archaeological Method and Theory and the Application of Archaeometric Techniques
The Archaeology of Iron Age Iran
Gendering the Past (GSEM)

Recent Publications:
  • 2004: "The Iron Age settlement at Tepe Yahya, southeastern Iran." Harvard University: Peabody Museum.
  • F. Khan. JR Knox, P Magee, K. Thomas and C. Petrie: Further research on the later prehistory of the Bannu Basin: The 1998 excavations at Akra. South Asian Archaeology, XV Leiden. accepted for publication and in press.
  • R Evangelista, P Magee and Wedepohl, E. 3D imaging of an Iron Age archaeological site: GPR analysis at Muweilah, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Ninth International Conference on Ground Penetrating Radar. (eds. S. K. Koppenjan and H. Lee) Proceedings of SPIE. 2003 Volume 4758: 108-114
  • Beyond the desert and the sown: Settlement intensification in late prehistoric southeastern Arabia. BASOR. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research accepted for publication and in press.
  • Preliminary report on three seasons of excavation at Akra (NWFP, Pakistan). Pakistan Archaeology accepted for publication
  • The production, distribution, and function of Iron Age bridge-spouted vessels in Iran and Arabia: Results from recent excavations and geochemical analysis. Iran. Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies 2005 XVI: 93-115.
  • Columned halls, bridge-spouted vessels, C14 dates and the chronology of the east Arabian Iron Age: A response to some recent comments by Muscarella. Ancient West and East 2005: 4:1: 160-169.
  • P Magee. D Barber, M Sobur and S Jasim, Sourcing Iron Age softstone artefacts in southeastern Arabia: Results from a pilot program of analysis using Inductively Coupled Plasma – MS/OES. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 2005: 16: 129-143.
  • P Magee, C Petrie, R Knox and F Khan, The Achaemenid Empire in south Asia and recent excavations at Akra, (NWFP, Pakistan). American Journal of Archaeology 2005: 109: 711-741.

Click here for a complete list of publications

Personal Statement:
In my research, I enjoy the opportunity to examine how people lived and interacted with their environment by using all avenues of archaeological enquiry from representations of The Queen of Sheba on cigarette cards to obtaining compositional data on ancient Arabian ceramics using Inductively Coupled Plasma - Mass Spectometry. Conducting fieldwork provides an opportunity to gather data but also to bring students into a part of the world they rarely have a chance to see. In teaching, I enjoy bringing together fieldwork results with existing knowledge that may enhance and sometimes challenge existing interpretative structures and paradigms.