2016 Grant Recipient
Ancient Bactra and Its Oasis (Afghanistan) During Protohistory: The Work Led by the Délégation Archéologique Française en Afghanistan
Johanna Lhuillier is an archaeologist specialized in the archaeology of Central Asia, working with the CNRS (UMR 5133). She received her PhD in Archaeology from the Panthéon-Sorbonne Paris I University. Her research focused on the cultural and socio-economic aspects of the Iron Age societies (2nd-1st millennia BCE), with a technical specialization centered on excavation and material culture studies. She developed a general reflection on the continuity/discontinuity of the material complexes, the living conditions, the social status, the mortuary practices, and the urban evolutions. She is particularly interested in the cultural interactions between Central Asia, the Indus Valley, Iran and the steppes area during the Bronze Age and the Iron Age.
Since 2005, she has carried out field and laboratory research at several sites in Turkmenistan (Ulug-depe), in Uzbekistan (Koktepe, Dzharkutan, Yangi-Rabat, Padayatak-tepe, Burgut-Kurgan), in Iran (Tepe Dâmghâni), and in Afghanistan (Bactra Oasis). She was awarded a Fyssen fellowship and an Alexander von Humboldt fellowship for three years of research at the Eurasia Department of the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut in Berlin. She taught Near Eastern and Central Asia history and archaeology at Lille 3 University and at Kheops Institut in Paris. She took part in the Inventory Project of the National Museum of Afghanistan and the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago at Kabul and she collaborated with the French Archaeological Delegation in Afghanistan (DAFA). Thanks to the grant awarded by the Shelby White and the Leon Levy Program for Archaeological Publication, she will study and prepare the publication of the work done by the DAFA in Bactra Oasis, with a focus on the Protohistoric occupation.
This grant will be for the study and publication of the final report of the Protohistoric occupation of Ancient Bactra and contemporary sites of Bactra oasis, excavated between 2004 and 2009 by the French Archaeological Delegation in Afghanistan (DAFA) under the direction of R. Besenval with the help of Ph. Marquis.
Ancient Bactra is located in northern Afghanistan, in the center of the modern city of Balkh. Famous for its mentions by the historians of Alexander the Great as the capital of the Achaemenids in Central Asia, Bactra was in fact settled since at least the end of the 2nd millennium BC. The second major site of the oasis is Chesme Shafa, at the southern border of the ancient oasis: it consists in a large fortress, which is yet the only known fortified settlement that can be attributed to the Achaemenids in Central Asia. Furthermore, the DAFA has led a survey of Bactra oasis, leading to the identification of several contemporary settlements that we plan to integrate in our study for comparative purposes.
The sites under study will enable us to document the chronology, the urbanism, the political and socio-economic organization during Protohistory, as long as the occupation of the territory of this region at the crossroads between the Indo-Pakistani subcontinent, Iran, and Central Asia.