I am a Research Scientist at the Kelsey Museum, University of Michigan, as well as a principle investigator in Archaeological Projects in North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. I am the Chief Research Officer (CRO) of the Ancient Egyptian Research Associates (AERA).
I received a Bachelors, Masters and bi-departmental PhDs at the University of Michigan (1981). My doctorate was bi-departmental in both Anthropological Archaeology and Biological Sciences. I have taught at Hamilton College, Wellesley College and Oakland University. I was also the Director of Science at Cranbrook Institute of Science (1986-1991) before returning to the University of Michigan in 1993.
My research interests are in the role of subsistence behavior in the evolution of culture. I focus on two research questions. First, the role of human subsistence in the shift to complex societies. Second, why did humans shift from hunting and gathering to food production. I am investigating how risk and perceptions of risk shape human decision making in diet.
My archaeological investigations, excavations, and surveys have taken me all over the world seeking an understanding of the origin of food production and the evolution of complex societies. I have excavated in Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt, Armenia, Georgia, China, Israel, Mexico, Wyoming and Michigan. As an educator, I am deeply committed to teaching young archaeologists and students in the US, China, and Egypt. Recent teaching has focused on Complexity Theory in Archaeology, Pastoralism and Archaeozoology, which is my specialty.
I publish articles and reviews annually. My work has appeared in multiple books, journals, and scientific magazines. My most recent manuscript accepted, which will appear this spring, is titled, “The Pig and the Chicken: the Introduction of the Chicken in the Middle East and its Relation to the Evolution of the Human Prohibition on Pig Consumption.” Other recent articles published are results of my work at the Pyramids at Giza and the Giza Mapping Project.
I first worked in Egypt in 1981 in the Fayyum Depression. I have also worked in the Eastern Desert of Egypt, Luxor, the Nile Delta and Giza. I was co-director in 1984, 1986 and 1988 at the Old Kingdom site of Kom el-Hisn, a village in the Nile Delta. Since 1989, I have been involved in excavations at the Lost City of the Pyramid Builders. I have spent every winter in Egypt since 1997.
My work in the Nile Delta in 1984, 1986, and 1988 revealed an Old Kingdom rural site, Kom el-Hisn, that produced cattle, sheep and goats for the central authority. Since 1990, I have worked at the Workers' Village near the Pyramids of Giza (pictured at right). The Workers' Village and associated areas supported and housed the work force that built the Pyramid of Menken're. Excavations at Giza will continue for several years. I have been using the faunal and floral data from these Egyptian sites to examine the socio-economic infrastructure of the Old Kingdom. The site at Giza was a provisioned site that received animals from producing sites. The village site in the Nile Delta was a producing site.
I have also been working at the site of Kedesh in northern Israel. This site sits on the western escarpment overlooking the Hula Basin. The excavations at Kedesh are focussed on Persian and Greek period deposits associated with an administrative building. My work at Kedesh has been instrumental in developing my ideas about the introduction of the chicken into the Middle East.
In my laboratory at the Kelsey Museum, I am working on the faunal remains from the site of Hallan Chemi in southeastern Turkey. This is an Epipaleolithic site that exhibits a shift over time in socio-economic structure. In the lower three meters, the inhabitants hunted and gathered and exhibit no evidence of social stratification. In the upper one meter of the site, elaborate stone wands and bowls appear. The wands are thought to be "wands of authority." Also in the upper meter, the pigs may have been managed in a system like that used among tribal groups in New Guinea. The wild sheep also may have been managed, with juvenile males preferentially hunted.
I am also working on the faunal remains from the site of Franchti Cave, Greece. The excavations at this site produced material from the late Paleolithic through the Neolithic. The site was apparently occupied seasonally, and with the introduction of domestic sheep and goats, the inhabitants were nomadic herders who hunted.
I am an avid bicyclist and live with my wife, Cheri Alexander, in Ann Arbor. Cheri is also at the University of Michigan and teaches at the Ross Business School. We have one daughter at Harvard.
© 2015 by Richard Redding.