University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Thornton, Christopher P., Ph.D.

Christopher P. Thornton, Ph.D.
Program Officer, Committee for Research and Exploration, National Geographic Society
Elected: 2002 (Department of Anthropology)

Chris earned his A.B. from Harvard University in Archaeometry and Archaeology, graduating in 2001. He received an M.Phil. in World Prehistory: Southern and Eastern Europe from the University of Cambridge in 2002 before entering the Anthropology department at Penn. He graduated from Penn in 2009 with a Ph.D. in Anthropology; his dissertation was entitled, "The Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age Metallurgy of Tepe Hissar, Northeastern Iran: A Challenge to the 'Levantine Paradigm'." For this work, Chris analyzed different forms of metallurgical craft production in domestic and workshop contexts at the Chalcolithic site of Tepe Hissar in Northeastern Iran. While at Penn he received several awards including an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (2002–2005), a White-Levy Grant for Archaeological Publications, Co-P.I. (2006–2008), and was elected to the Kolb Fellowship in 2002. Following graduation, Chris taught for a year at George Mason University in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology, but since 2010 has been the Program Officer for the Committee for Research and Exploration at the National Geographic Society.

Chris's research interests include craft production (especially metallurgy and ceramics), social complexity, monumentality, non-traditional forms of urbanism, and the application of archaeological science. He has excavated at Mapungubwe in South Africa, Sotira Kaminoudhia in Cyprus, Szazhalombatta in Hungary, Konar Sandal in Iran, and is currently Director of the Penn Museum excavations at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bat in the Sultanate of Oman. He has written a number of articles including "Genes, Language, and Culture: An Example from the Tarim Basin," Oxford Journal of Archaeology 23.1 (2004): 83–106 (with T.G. Schurr); "A New Look at the Prehistoric Metallurgy of Southeastern Iran," Iran XLII (2004): 47–59 (with C.C. Lamberg-Karlovsky); "The Emergence of Complex Metallurgy on the Iranian Plateau: Escaping the Levantine Paradigm," Journal of World Prehistory 22(3), 2009: 301–27; and "The Development of Metallurgy in Eurasia," Antiquity 83(322), 2009: 1012–22 (with B.W. Roberts and V.C. Pigott).


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