National Lecture Program

AIA Lecturer: Geoff Emberling

Affiliation: Kelsey Museum of Archaeology

Dr. Geoff Emberling is an Associate Research Scientist working at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, University of Michigan.  He holds his degrees from the University of Michigan (Ph.D.) and Harvard University, and his research interests include the ancient Middle East (Mesopotamia) and ancient North Africa (Nubia and Kush), particularly early states, cities, and empires, ethnicity and identity, heritage, and collaborative community archaeology.  Since 2012 he has co-directed archaeological projects at El-Kurru and Jebel Barkal in northern Sudan.  Dr. Emberling has recently co-edited The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Nubia (with B.B. Williams, 2021, Oxford University Press). His current publication projects include publication of his excavations in Sudan along with Excavations at Tell Brak, vol. 6: Institutions, Households, and Collapse in the Heart of Nagar, 2600-2000 BCE (co-edited with H. McDonald, in preparation). He is one of the AIA Joukowsky Lecturers for the 2024/2025 National Lecture Program season.


Ancient Napata (modern-day Jebel Barkal) has long been known as one of the capital cities of the empire of Kush. Located on the Nile River in what is now northern Sudan, it rose to prominence when the kings of Kush conquered Egypt, where they would rule as its 25th Dynasty (ca. 715-653 BCE).

The site’s pyramids, temples, and palaces have attracted the attention of archaeologists for more than a century. A new archaeological project at the site aims to connect these scattered monuments as elements of an ancient city.

Our first step has been to locate the settlement itself—where did people live? This talk will outline our first steps in identifying this “lost city” of ancient Kush.

An important component of our work at the site has been developing a fully collaborative project with our Sudanese colleagues, and talking with the local community to begin to understand the range of their engagement with the site. This talk can also address what it means to conduct a “post-colonial” archaeological project.

support Us

The AIA is North America's largest and oldest nonprofit organization dedicated to archaeology. The Institute advances awareness, education, fieldwork, preservation, publication, and research of archaeological sites and cultural heritage throughout the world. Your contribution makes a difference.