Elizabeth C. Stone


Department of Anthropology

Stony Brook University

Stony Brook, NY 11794-4364

Phone 631-632-7627

Email: estone@notes.cc.sunysb.edu

E. Stone in the field at Ayanis, Turkey


Research Interests 

Elizabeth Stone has focused her research on issues relating to early complex societies in the Near East, especially Mesopotamia. From her early dissertation research on houses and households, she extended her interests into explorations of neighborhood organization, urban organization and most recently to an understanding of the structure of both urban and rural settlements. She has approached these issues using a combination of textual and archaeological data, examining more recent cities to understand the relationship between space and society in pre-industrial society, using remote sensing (both aerial photography and satellite imagery) and GIS for spatial analysis, and through field research.


She has been involved in three major field projects, all jointly directed by her and Paul Zimansky. The first, conducted from 1981-1983 focused on the site of ‘Ain Dara in Syria (see Stone and Zimansky 1999) and was funded by grants from the National Geographic Society. Here, they conducted an investigation of the residential part of this Early Iron Age city, focusing their work on examining the transition from bronze to iron ages.


Beginning in 1997, their focus shifted to Iraq, where they worked on the ancient city of Mashkan-shapir (Stone and Zimansky 2004), using a mixture of surface pickup, aerial photography (using a kite as an aerial platform) and limited excavations to understand the organization of this example of a focal urban center in this city state society. This project was funded by grants from NSF, NEH, National Geographic and the American Schools of Oriental Research. It ended in 1990 with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the Gulf War and its aftermath.


Since 1997, they have been working at Ayanis, an Urartian site located in eastern Turkey near Lake Van (Stone and Zimansky 2001, 2003, 2004; Stone 2005). In collaboration with Altan Çiliguroğlu from Ege University, they have been investigating the organization of the Outer Town associated with the fortress which has been under investigation by Ege University since 1988. Here Stone and Zimansky have used a combination of shovel test survey, magnetic gradiometry and excavation to generate broad information on the organization of this settlement, as well as the faunal, ceramic and phytolith remains to analyze the relationships between the different sectors. Since Urartu is a typical territorial state society, it is not unexpected that the results from this project differ considerably from those recovered from Mashkan-shapir. The Ayanis Outer Town Project has been funded by grants from NSF and National Geographic, and had its last season in the summer of 2005.

Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Stone has been actively involved in attempting to help Iraqi archaeology recover from more than a decade of war and sanctions. She enabled the first significant shipment of equipment and furniture to the Iraq Museum after it was looted, and since October 2003 has been the PI of a USAID grant to help rebuild higher education in Iraq. Working especially with the faculty at Baghdad and Mosul Universities, she was able to rehabilitate the departments, provide computers, equipment and books, provide training programs–including an MA program for Iraqi students at Stony Brook–and expand the availability of Near Eastern Archaeology resources available on the web.

Most recently, supported by grants from NEH, the Joukowski Foundation, the World Monument Fund, and the State Department she is developing a training program in Remote Sensing and GIS for Iraqi professionals to be held at Stony Brook in the Spring of 2006, and is using high resolution Digital Globe imagery to survey southern Iraq both for evidence of site looting and damage from development, and for the evidence that it can provide on the internal structure of both large and small settlements in ancient Mesopotamia.


Selected Publications:


Elizabeth C. Stone, 1981 "Texts, Architecture and Ethnographic Analogy: Patterns of Residence in Old Babylonian Nippur." Iraq XLIII: 19-34.

Elizabeth C. Stone, 1982 "The Social Role of the Nadītu Women of Nippur." Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient XXV: 50-70.

Elizabeth C. Stone, 1987 Nippur Neighborhoods, Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization 44. Chicago: the Oriental Institute Press.

Elizabeth C. Stone, 1993 "Chariots of the Gods in Old Babylonian Mesopotamia," Cambridge Archaeological Journal 3/1, 83-107.

Elizabeth C. Stone, 1995 "The Development of Cities in Ancient Mesopotamia," in Civilizations of the Ancient Near East I, edited by Jack Sasson. New York: Scribners Press, 1995, 235-248.

Elizabeth C. Stone, 1997a "Houses, Households and Neighborhoods in the Old Babylonian Period: The Role of Extended Families," in K.R. Veenhof ed., Houses and Households in Ancient Mesopotamia. Publications de l'Institut Historique Archéologique Neérlandais de Istanbul. Istanbul: Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten, 229-235.

Elizabeth C. Stone, 1997b "City States and their Centers: The Mesopotamian Example," in Deborah L. Nichols and Thomas H. Charleton, eds., The Archaeology of City States: Cross-Cultural Approaches. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 15-26.

E.C. Stone, D.H.Lindsley, V. Pigott, G Harbottle and M.T. Ford, 1998 “From Shiftingt Silt to Solid Stone: The Manufacture of Synthetic Basalt in Ancient Mesopotamia,” Science 280, 2091-2093.

Elizabeth C. Stone and Paul E. Zimansky. 1999 The Iron Age Settlement at ‘Ain Dara, Syria. BAR International Series 786. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports.

Elizabeth C. Stone and Paul Zimansky, 2001 “Survey and Excavations in the Outer Town, 1997-1998,” in A. Çilingiroğlu and Mirio Salvini, eds., Ayanis I: Ten Years’ Excavations at Rusainili Eiduru-kai, 1989-1998. Rome: Istituto per gli Studi Micenei ed Egeo-Anatolici, 2001: 355-375.

Elizabeth C. Stone, 2002, “The Ur III-Old Babylonian Transition: An Archaeological Perspective,” Iraq LXIV, 79-84.

Elizabeth C. Stone and Paul Zimansky, 2003, “The Urartian Transformation in the Outer Town of Ayanis,” in Archaeology in the Borderlands: Investigations in the Cauacasus and Beyond, A. Smith and K. Rubinson, eds. Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute, 213-228.

Elizabeth C. Stone and Paul E. Zimansky, 2004a The Anatomy of a Mesopotamian City: Survey and Soundings at Mashkan-shapir. Winona Lake: Eisenbraun’s.

Elizabeth C. Stone and Paul Zimansky, 2004b, “City Planning at Ayanis,” in Anthony Segona, ed., A View from the Highlands: Trans-Caucasus, Eastern Anatolia and Northwestern Iran. Studies in Honor of C. A. Burney. Leiden: Peeters Press, 233-243.

Elizabeth C. Stone, 2005, “The Outer Town of Ayanis, 1997-2001,” in Altan Çilingiroğlu, ed., Anatolian Iron Age V. Ankara: British School of Archaeology in Turkey, 187-194.