Follow the Pots Project and affiliated faculty member featured in DePaul Insights

Assistant Professor Morag Kersel uses unmanned aerial vehicles to survey an archaeological looting site in Jordan. Photo by Austin “Chad” Hill, Follow the Pots Project
Dr. Morag Kersel, field archaeologist, assistant professor of anthropology at DePaul University, and the Center for Art, Museum & Cultural Heritage Law’s affiliated faculty member, was recently featured on the cover of the fall 2013 issue of Insights, a publication by the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at DePaul University. Professor Kersel is currently working in Jordan on the Follow the Pots Project, a multi-year research initiative that uses unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to monitor looting at an Early Bronze Age archaeological site in Fifa, Jordan. One of the purposes of this project is “to better understand both the ancient and modern use of a prehistoric mortuary site.”

As noted by Professor Kersel, the archaeological site at Fifa is “threatened by systematic looting as a result of the demand for artifacts in the antiquities market.” Professor Kersel examines the path of artifacts looted from this archaeological site in an effort to understand and track how artifacts go “from the ground to the consumer.”

The innovative use of UVAs and aerial photography as a method of site assessment and monitoring makes it possible “to both document looting and site destruction at Fifa as well as generating spatial data for digital mapping.” During the 2013 season, Professor Kersel and her team were able to conclude that “looters are revisiting old looter’s holes, there is ongoing recent looting, and there is a discernable difference in looting episodes.”

Professor Kersel received a Harris Grant from the American Schools of Oriental Research and a College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Faculty Research Award for this innovative research program, and “this season of aerial site monitoring was the first of a five-year plan to revisit the site at the same time each year to investigate change over time and to assess the potential impact of anti-looting campaigns and outreach programs.” In conjunction with Jordan’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and colleagues from the universities of Notre Dame and Connecticut, Professor Kersel hopes to develop effective strategies to combat looting at this important archaeological site.

Read Professor Kersel's post on the ASOR blog.