Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
Northwestern University
Website URL
Mesopotamia, Mesopotamian art and archaeology, Anatolian archaeology, looting and illegal trafficking of antiquities, archaeology and politics in the Middle East, archaeology and politics in Turkey
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

I’m a lecturer in the Middle East and North African Studies (MENA) program at Northwestern University. I received my PhD in Mesopotamian Art and Archaeology from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago in 2016.

My research addresses issues of identity and cultural exchange, and the effects of political change and ideology in the visual culture and material record of the ancient Middle East. I specialize in cylinder seals and sealing practices, focusing on the role of seal imagery as important visual tools in the construction of political power and ideology. My work also deals with political uses of the ancient past and its role in the formation of national identities in the modern Middle East, as well as cultural heritage preservation in Turkey. As co-director of the MANTIS project based at the University of Chicago, I also study the looting and illegal trafficking of antiquities from Syria and Iraq.

Recent Publications

Topçuoğlu, Oya and Tasha Vorderstrasse, “Small Find, Big Values: A Study of Cylinders Seals and Coins from Syria and Iraq on the Antiquities Market” (under review for the International Journal of Cultural Property Special Issue: New Insights into the Antiquities Market)

Greenland, Fiona R., James Marrone, Oya Topçuoğlu, Tasha Vorderstrasse, “A Site-level Market Model of the Antiquities Trade” (submitted for review to the International Journal of Cultural Property)

“The Curious Case of Walawala’s Letter: An Old Assyrian Envelope from the Oriental Institute Museum,” in Theo van den Hout Festschrift, ed. Petra Goedegebuure and Joost Hazenbos. Chicago: Oriental Institute Publications (forthcoming in 2018).

“Behind the Scenes: Seal Carvers as Artists and Artisans in The Old Assyrian Period,” in Current Research at Kültepe/Kanesh. An Interdisciplinary and Integrative Approach to Trade Networks, Internationalism, and Identity During the Middle Bronze Age , ed. L. Atici, F. Kulakoğlu, G. Barjamovic and A. Fairbairn. (Journal of Cuneiform Studies Supplements 4). The American Schools of Oriental Research: Boston, MA, 2014.

Media Coverage,
Country Focus
Iraq, Syria, Turkey
Expertise by Geography
Expertise by Chronology
Ancient, Modern
Expertise by Topic
Museums, Politics