University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Frachetti, Michael D., Ph.D.

Michael D. Frachetti, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri 
Elected: 2000 (Department of Anthropology)

Michael graduated with honors from SUNY at Buffalo in 1997 with a degree in Anthropology. He received a M. Phil with distinction in Archaeology from St. John's College, Cambridge University, in 1999. He wrote his dissertation entitled, "Bronze Age Pastoral Landscapes of Eurasia and the Nature of Social Interaction in the Mountain Steppe Zone of Eastern Kazakhstan," and garnered his Ph.D. in Anthropology from Penn in 2004. He was a Visiting Post-doctoral Scholar in the Eurasian Department at the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut in Berlin (2004–2005), and then joined the faculty at Washington University in St. Louis. He is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology and is the Director of the SAIE Lab. He is also a Research Associate at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology (UCLA). In 2012 Michael began a three-year term on the Kolb executive committee as a director of the Kolb Foundation. He was also a Visiting Research Scholar at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at NYU for the 2012–2013 academic year.

Michael's research centers on the Bronze Age (ca. 3500–1000 B.C.E.), pastoral nomadic societies living in the steppe region, mountains, and deserts of central and eastern Eurasia, focusing on questions of social and economic interaction between regional populations across central Asia at that time. He has written numerous articles, including "Differentiated Landscapes and Non-Uniform Complexity among Bronze Age Societies of the Eurasian Steppe," in B. Hanks and K. Linduff, eds., Social Complexity in Prehistoric Eurasia: Monuments, Metals and Mobility, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009: 19–46 and "Variability and Dynamic Landscapes of Mobile Pastoralism in Ethnography and Prehistory," in H. Barnard and W. Wendrich, eds., The Archaeology of Mobility: Nomads in the Old and in the New World, Cotsen Advanced Seminar Series 4, 2008: 366–96. He has also published the monograph Pastoralist Landscapes and Social Interaction in Bronze Age Eurasia, Berkley: University of California Press (2008). Michael lectures throughout the United States and internationally, and recently participated in the Penn Museum Symposium in March 2011 accompanying the Secrets of the Silk Road exhibition, with a talk entitled "Seeds for the Soul: East/West Diffusion of Domesticated Grains along the Inner Asian Mountain Corridor."

Michael currently conducts field research in eastern Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. He is the director of the Dzhungar Mountains Archaeology Project (DMAP) in Kazakhstan, which began in 1999, and more recently, a project referred to as Malguzar Uzbek/American Archaeological Research (MALGUZAAR) in Uzbekistan. From 2010 to 2011 he directed the Zaamin Archaeological Pilot Project (ZAPP), which consisted of two field-seasons of archaeological survey and test excavations in the Zaamin territory of eastern Uzbekistan. He is also the director of the Nias Island Assessment of Social impact on Ecology (NIASE) Project, examining the ecological impact of the degradation of the coastline and the response to intensive environmental change on the island of Nias (Indonesia) after the tsunami in 2004 and the earthquake in 2005.


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