Photo of Harmanşah, Ömür

Ömür Harmanşah

Director of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor of Art History

Art and Architecture of the Ancient Near East, Archaeology, Material Culture Studies

Department of Art History

Pronouns: He/Him/His


Building & Room:

Henry Hall 309


929 W Harrison Street, MC 201

Office Phone:

(312) 355-0616

Sign up for DGS Office Hours:


Office Hours - Spring 2021
Friday 12:00pm – 02:00pm DGS office hours


Ömür Harmansah’s current research focuses on the history of landscapes in the Middle East and the politics of ecology, place, and heritage in the age of the Anthropocene. As an archaeologist and an architectural historian of the ancient Near East, Harmansah specializes in the art, architecture, and material culture of Anatolia, Syria, and Mesopotamia during the Bronze and Iron Ages. His earlier research focused on cities, the production of architectural and urban space, critical studies of place and landscape, building technologies and architectural knowledge, and image-making practices in the urban and rural environments. He is the author of two monographs, Cities and the Shaping of Memory in the Ancient Near East, (Cambridge University Press, 2013), and Place, Memory, and Healing: An Archaeology of Anatolian Rock Monuments (Routledge, 2015). He also edited the volume Of Rocks and Water: Towards an Archaeology of Place, published by Oxbow Books (2014). The monograph Cities and the Shaping of Memory in the Ancient Near East has been translated to Turkish and published by Koc University Press in 2015. For other publications, please consult his academia page.

Since 2010, Harmansah has been directing Yalburt Yaylasi Archaeological Landscape Research Project, a diachronic regional survey project addressing questions of place and landscape in Konya Province of west-central Turkey. He is also affiliated with the Gordion Archaeological Project at Yassıhöyük (Turkey). He is currently working on a new monograph on landscape history and political ecology in the Middle East, addressing the challenges brought about by the new geological epoch Anthropocene, climate change, and environmental crisis on landscape archaeology and archaeological field practice. This monograph will bring together insights from current debates in new materialism and political ecology to discuss the precarity of archaeological landscapes and cultural heritage under the impact of late capitalism.  He is the Principal Investigator for the 3-year multi-institutional collaborative project entitled “Political Ecology as Practice: A Regional Approach to the Anthropocene”. This project is supported by the Humanities Without Walls consortium, based at the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The Humanities Without Walls consortium is funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Born and raised in Turkey, Ömür studied architecture and architectural history at the Middle East Technical University (Ankara, Turkey), and received his PhD from University of Pennsylvania in the History of Art (2005). He previously taught at Reed College (Portland, OR) and Brown University (Providence, RI) before joining the faculty at UIC’s School of Art & Art History in 2014. He received various sabbatical and research awards, including Koç University’s Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations Senior Fellowship (2009-2010), Brown University’s Cogut Center for the Humanities Faculty Fellowship (Fall 2012), and University of Texas at Austin’s Donald D. Harrington Faculty Research Fellowship(2013-2014). Recently, he has been elected as a “Rising Star” in Art, Architecture, and the Humanities among the 2016 Researcher and Scholar of the Year awards distributed by the Office of the Vice Chancellor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Selected Grants

Humanities Without Walls Consortium, "Political Ecology as Practice: A Regional Approach to the Anthropocene" (2017-2019), Lead Principal Investigator

Wenner Gren Foundation, "Holocene and Anthropocene Landscapes in Anatolia: The Political Ecology of Water in the Hittite Borderlands" (2019-2020), Principal Investigator

University of Illinois at Chicago, Awards for Creative Activity in the Arts and the Humanities, "Chicago River Campus" (2020-2021), Co-PI

Selected Publications

Books (monographs)

Cities and the Shaping of Memory in the Ancient Near East. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Place, Memory, and Healing: An Archaeology of Anatolian Rock Monuments. London and New York: Routledge, 2015.

Edited volumes (Anthologies)

Of Rocks and Water: Towards an Archaeology of Place. Oxford and Philadelphia: Oxbow Books, 2014.

Chloé Ragazzoli, Elizabeth Frood, Ömür Harmanşah, Chiara Salvador (eds).  2018. Scribbling Through History: Graffiti, Places, and People from Antiquity to Modernity. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018.


2021. “Deep time and landscape history in the Anthropocene: How can historical particularity be translated?” in Timescales: Thinking Across Ecological Temporalities. Bethany Wiggin, Carolyn Fornoff, and Patricia Eunji Kim (eds.). University of Minnesota Press, 39-53.

2020. “The Conversion of Hagia Sophia: Desire, Spectacle, and a Historical Re-EnactmentThe Berkley Forum July 31, 2020.

2020 Review of Eisa EsfanJary, Persian Historic Urban Landscapes: Interpreting and Managing Maibud over 6000 years. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2017; and Matthew P. Canepa, The Iranian Expanse: Transforming Royal Identity Through Architecture, Landscape, and the Built Environment, 550 BCE-642 CE. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2018. International Journal of Islamic Architecture 9.2: 433-38.

2019. “Cities, the Underworld and the Infrastructure: The Ecology of Water in the Hittite World.” In New Materialisms, Ancient Urbanisms. Susan M. Alt and Timothy R. Pauketat, editors. London and New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group, 218-244.

2019. “Visualizing the Moon in the Ancient Near East,” in The Moon: A voyage Through Time. Christiane Gruber (ed.). Exhibition Catalogue. Toronto: Aga Khan Museum, 8-14.

2019. “Rock Reliefs and Landscape Monuments” in A Companion to Ancient Near Eastern Art (Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World) Ann C. Gunter (ed). Malden MA: Wiley Blackwell, 483-505.

2019. “The Political Ecology of Roads and Movement: The Yalburt Yaylası Archaeological Landscape Research Project 2018 Season” In The Archaeology of Anatolia:  Recent Discoveries (2017-2018) Volume III, SR. Steadman and G. McMahon, eds.  Newcastle upon Tyne:  Cambridge Scholars Press, 193-204. [Co-authored with Peri Johnson]

2018. “Geologies of Belonging: The Political Ecology of Water in Central Anatolia” in Water and Power in Past Societies. Emily Holt (ed.). Suny Series, the Institute for European and Mediterranean Archaeology Distinguished Monograph. Buffalo, NY: State University of New York Press, 259-277.

2018. “Graffiti or Monument? Inscription of Place at Anatolian Rock Reliefs.” In Scribbling Through History: Graffiti, Places, and People from Antiquity to Modernity. Chloé Ragazzoli, Elizabeth Frood, Ömür Harmanşah, Chiara Salvador (eds).  London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 49-63.

2017. “Borders are Rough-hewn: Monuments, Local Landscapes and the Politics of Place in a Hittite Borderland” in Bordered Places ǀ Bounded times – Interdisciplinary perspectives on Turkey, edited by Emma Baysal and Leonidas Karakatsanis. London: British Institute at Ankara Monograph 51, 37-51.

2015. “ISIS, Heritage, and the Spectacles of Destruction in the Global MediaNear Eastern Archaeology 78.3: 170-177.

2014. “Urban Utopias and How They Fell Apart: The Political Ecology of Gezi Parkı,” in The Making of Turkey’s Protest Movement: #occupygezi. Umut Özkırımlı (ed.). With an introduction by Judith Butler. New York: Palgrave MacMillan/Palgrave Pilot, 121-133.

2013. “The Cattlepen and the Sheepfold: Cities, Temples, and Pastoral Power in Ancient Mesopotamia.” In Heaven on Earth: Temples, Ritual, and Cosmic Symbolism in the Ancient World.  Deena Ragavan (ed.). Oriental Institute Seminars 9. Chicago: The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 371-392.

2012. “Beyond Aššur: New Cities and the Assyrian Politics of Landscape,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 365: 53-77.

2011. “Moving landscapes, making place: cities, monuments and commemoration at Malizi/MelidJournal of Mediterranean Archaeology 24.1: 55-83.

2011. “Monuments and Memory: Architecture and Visual Culture in Ancient Anatolian History,” in Oxford Handbook of Anatolian Studies (8000–323 BCE). Sharon R. Steadman and Gregory McMahon (eds.). Oxford University Press, 623-651.

2009. “Stones of Ayanis: new urban foundations and the architectonic culture in Urartu during the 7th c. BC,” Byzas 9 (Bautechnik im Antiken und Vorantiken Kleinasien. Internationale Konferenz 13-16. Juni 2007 in Istanbul). Martin Bachmann (ed.). Ege Yayınları: Istanbul, 177-197.

2007. “Source of the Tigris: event, place and performance in the Assyrian landscapes of the Early Iron Age,” Archaeological Dialogues 14.2: 179-204.

2007. “Upright Stones and Building Narratives: Formation of a Shared Architectural Practice in the Ancient Near East,” in Ancient Near Eastern Art in Context: Studies in Honor of Irene J. Winter by her students. Jack Cheng and Marian H. Feldman (eds.). Leiden: Brill Publishers, 69-99.

Service to Community



B.Arch, Middle East Technical University
MA, Middle East Technical University, History of Architecture
PhD, University of Pennsylvania, History of Art

Selected Presentations

2020. “Landscape, Deep Time, Fieldwork, and Salvage: Towards an Archaeological Vocabulary in the Anthropocene”. Columbia University, Department of Anthropology  and the Institute for Social and Economic Policy. Franz Boas Seminar, February 26, 2020.

2020. “The relationship between archaeology and heritage in the Middle East” in Critical Debates in the Archaeology of the Middle East. British Association for Near Eastern Archaeology Annual Meeting, The University of Oxford and the Ashmolean Museum, January 9-11, 2020.

2019 “Ruined Gardens of Babylon: Dark Ecology and Heritage Politics in the Anthropocene” Archaeological Institute of America Richmond Virginia Chapter. Kershaw Lectures in Near East Archaeology. University of Richmond. October 3, 2019. New Orleans LA Chapter, September 30, 2019.

2019 “Iconoclasm or a Spectacle of Destruction? The politics of heritage violence in ISIS's visual regime” Archaeological Institute of America Tallahassee Florida Chapter. Kershaw Lectures in Near East Archaeology. Florida State University. October 1, 2019. Benedictine University, 2019 Sonntag Distinguished Art Scholar, Komechak Art Gallery, April 7, 2019.

2019 “Hittite Past, Water Cult, and the Archaeological Landscapes of South Central Anatolia” Archaeological Institute of America Central Illinois Society, Kershaw Lectures in Near East Archaeology. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Spurlock Museum of World Cultures. September 9, 2018.

2019 “Heritage Landscapes as Disposable Landscapes: Destruction of Islamic heritage in Ilgın (Konya)” Heritage, World Heritage, and the Future: Perspectives on Scale, Conservation, and Dialogue, held at Koç University, Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations (ANAMED), 5-6 December 2019. Co-authored with Peri Johnson.

2019 “From Thing-Politics to Place-Politics: Fieldwork in the Anthropocene” Theoretical Archaeology Group 2019 Meeting Syracuse, New York, May 3-5, 2019. Paper presented in the session “Session 024: Intersections: the philosophy and poetics of excavating and field practices” organized by Yannis Hamilakis and Eva Mol.

2019 “Stories of Water, Landscape, and Climate: Fieldwork lessons from Konya, Turkey.” All have the same breath: Symposium for Political Ecology as Practice. March 1-2, 2019. The University of Illinois at Chicago.

2018 “The Subject of Suffering in Uncivilized Times: The Politics of Violence in ISIS’s Visual Regime” 2018 Cultural Heritage and Preservation Studies (CHAPS) Symposium, Heritage and the Visual Archive. Session: Violence and Image, Rutgers University, New Brunswick NJ. April 27th, 2018.

2018 "Cities, the Underworld and the Infrastructure: The ​Political ​Ecology​ and Archaeology​ of Water in ​Hittite Anatolia.” University of Louisville, Department of Anthropology. March 29, 2018.

2018 “Poetics of Architectonics, Politics of Stone: Ashlar Masonry in the Borderlands of the Hittite Empire,” ASHLAR: Exploring the Materiality of Cut Stone Masonry in the Eastern Mediterranean Bronze Age. International workshop organized by AegIS (UCLouvain-INCAL-CEMA) and the ARC ‘A World in Crisis’.  Louvain-la-Neuve, Musée L, March 8-9, 2018.

2018 “Remotely Sensing: Ethics of Fieldwork, Military Technologies, and Archaeological Practice” University of Glasgow, School of Humanities, Archaeology Research Seminar Series, February 5, 2018.

2018 “Rethinking the Syro-Anatolian koiné: Carved orthostats and architectural experimentation in Early Phrygian Gordion.” In The Connected Iron Age; Interregional Networks in the Eastern Mediterranean 900-600 BCE. University of Chicago, January 12-13, 2018. Organized by James Osborne and Jonathan Hall.

Research Currently in Progress

Landscapes of the Anthropocene: Ecology, Politics, and Heritage in the Middle East. Under contract with Routledge [Monograph manuscript planned to be completed by August 2020].

Artistic and Professional Performances and Exhibits

All have the same breath, Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois at Chicago Campus. January 18-March 9, 2019.