National Lecture Program

AIA Lecturer: Megan A. Perry

Affiliation: East Carolina University

Megan A. Perry is Professor of Anthropology with East Carolina University, as well as Director of International Initiatives for the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences (ECU).  She holds her degrees from the University of New Mexico (Ph.D.), Case Western Reserve University (M.A.), and Boston University (B.A.). Her primary research interests involve investigating human skeletal remains to assess ancient disease, diet, and mobility patterns, in addition to mortuary practices of ancient populations in 1st to 6th century A.D. Jordan. Her bioarchaeological research at Petra focuses on how one neighborhood in the ancient city adapted to their increasingly urban environment through evidence of physiological stress, isotopic evidence of diet and migration, population demography, and sources of the site’s most important resource, water. Professor Perry has been working on archaeological projects in Jordan for over 25 years, and she is on the Board of the American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR) in Amman, Jordan. In addition, she collaborates with forensic pathologists and local law enforcement agencies on regional forensic anthropology cases. 


The mysterious Nabataeans, builders of the magnificent city of Petra, have long fascinated scholars and the public. Scant archaeological research and minimal textual sources have not clarified the shift from a primarily nomadic encampment in the late 4th century BC into a major capital city by the 1st century BC. Our understanding of Petra’s urban life recently has been transformed with the excavation of tombs within the ancient city. The human skeletal remains from these tombs have illuminated the origins of the city’s residents, their disease profiles, and what foods they relied on in this desert environment. This lecture demonstrates how Petra’s dead can inform what life was like in this ancient city.

Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

Perry, M.A. 2018. Le Petra North Ridge Project. Les tombes reflets des conditions de vie à Pétra. Dossiers d’Archéologie 386:50-51.

Perry, M.A. 2017. Sensing the Dead: Mortuary Ritual and Tomb Visitation at Nabataean Petra. Syria 94:99-106.

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