Rune Rattenborg

researcher at Department of Linguistics and Philology

Visiting address:
Engelska parken
Thunbergsvägen 3H

Postal address:
Box 635
751 26 UPPSALA

Short presentation

I am an archaeologist and philologist specialising in the Bronze Age Middle East (c. 3000-1200 BCE). I take a particular interest in comparative, data-driven approaches to the study of economic structure and landscape history, aided by a rare, interdisciplinary background encompassing core skills in the handling of primary textual and material evidence, landscape archaeology, and digital and spatial humanities research designs.

Keywords: political economy economic history digital humanities archaeology landscape spatial humanities assyriology middle east geographical information systems

My courses


I received my BA (2009) and MA (2012) in Assyriology from the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies of the University of Copenhagen. I subsequently took up doctoral research with the Department of Archaeology of the University of Durham, generously supported by a Durham Doctoral Scholarship (2012-2015) from the Faculty of Social Sciences and Health. My work at Durham, conducted as part of the AHRC-funded Fragile Crescent Project, aimed at integrating textual and archaeological data in order to gauge the relative and absolute scale of political economies of Middle Bronze Age Northern Mesopotamia through a detailed study of cuneiform assemblages and archaeological survey indices from six specific locales.

Having received my PhD in Archaeology (2017), I spent a year in Berlin before obtaining a research position with the ERC-funded Persia and Its Neighbours-project of the University of Durham in January 2018. Here, I worked with remote sensing of upland sites in northeast Iran. I came to Uppsala in June 2018 as a researcher with the project Memories for Life: Materiality and Memory of Ancient Near Eastern Inscribed Private Objects based at the Department of Linguistics and Philology and funded by the Swedish Research Council. Starting in January 2020, I will be co-directing (with Jakob Andersson) a three-year research project entitled Geomapping Landscapes of Writing (GLoW), aimed at developing a global index and assessment of the scale, composition and distribution of the more than 500,000 cuneiform texts currently known. This project is generously sponsored by a grant from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond Mixed Methods programme.

I am also an experienced field archaeologist, having participated in archaeological excavations in Jordan and Syria regularly since 2007. As a long-time instructor, and ultimately assistant director of the Islamic Jarash Project of the University of Copenhagen, I have written or co-authored multiple articles on the history and archaeology of northwest Jordan during the Late Antique and Early Islamic ages. I have furthermore served as the assistant director of the Late Antique Jarash Project, also of the University of Copenhagen, directed by Louise Blanke. More recently, I have been engaged in fieldwork in western Iran jointly conducted by Razi University Kermanshah and the University of Copenhagen.


My primary responsibility within the Memories for Life (M4L) project is to develop the database and framework for understanding and visualising information from the primary project catalogue in spatial data applications (GIS). As the M4L covers a uniquely broad historical and geographical spanning some 3,000 years of recorded history, data from the project is particularly well suited to develop the kind of wider comparative perspectives on ancient texts and landscapes that I have already been working with during my doctoral years. My work therefore also seeks to expand upon and further develop spatial humanities approaches to the cuneiform record and large-scale analyses of textual corpora from the ancient world more generally.


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