My research interests focus on the types of damage sustained by archaeological sites in the Middle East in peace and war, and developing ways of identifying and recording the threats using satellite imagery and social media. This work has primarily focused on Syria and Iraq. As a part of this, I am interested in civil-military relations before, during, and after conflict. My other research interest is the links between wellbeing, heritage, and communities, and the effects when they are separated. I am a member of the UK Committee of the Blue Shield (, a charity working to protect archaeological sites from conflict and natural disasters, and a volunteer for the NGO Heritage for Peace (

Endandered Archaeology in the Middle East

Friday 24 July is the ‘Day of Archaeology’, where archaeologists describe their working day to “help show the world why archaeology is vital to protect the past and inform our futures”. And today (Tuesday 21st July) it’s my turn to write a blog post for my Project! So who am I, and what do I do?


Well, the best place to start is an introduction.

Hi! I’m Emma Cunliffe, a fairly newly minted Doctor (2013). My research has always focussed on how to protect sites in the Middle East from damage, whether in peace or during war, so when I was offered a job at the University of Oxford, looking at Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa (EAMENA), I leapt at the chance. The project is recording damage to sites across the region, mostly using satellite imagery and aerial photographs, but with some survey information, and field notes too. We’ve designed a specialist database, which will deal with how complicated that can be (and if it sounds simple, just wait until we put up some of our blog posts!). Once we’ve tested it, which we’re doing right now, we’ll be entering thousands of sites. This will let us analyse damage across the entire region, looking at what the biggest threats are. ISIS feature a lot in the news, but in some areas, threats like agriculture and urban development are even more destructive.

Figure 1: Development at Tall Umeiri (East) in Jordan.  (Photo - APAAME_20101002_SES-0277 Tall Umeiri (East) )

Figure 1: Development at Tall Umeiri (East) in Jordan.
(Photo – APAAME_20101002_SES-0277 Tall Umeiri (East) )