Hannah Lau

Phone: (415) 516-7491



B.A. Anthropology and History, University of Pennsylvania

M.A. Archaeology, University of California-Los Angeles

Areas of Interest

Archaeology of the Near East, Anatolia, and the Southern Caucasus; Emergent Social Complexity; Political economy and Historical ecology; Zooarchaeology; Isotopic analyses


Hannah Lau grew up in San Francisco and received her B.A. in Anthropology and History, with a minor in Modern Middle Eastern Studies, at the University of Pennsylvania. She has participated in fieldwork in a variety of places in the Greater Near East and beyond. 


Her research examines how people have coordinated resource exploitation in the past and how such cooperation among ancient people, particularly in agropastoral production, elicited change or was changed by shifts in sociopolitical relationships. For her dissertation research she examined how zooarchaeological, including biogeochemical analyses, material from the Halaf period site of Domuztepe (ca. 6000-5450 cal. BCE) in southeastern Turkey document social and economic cooperation and coordination among participants in both daily subsistence activities and large-scale communal feasting events.

In addition to her dissertation research she works at several sites in Azerbaijan, two of which are Iron Age sites: the the Naxçıvan Archaeological Project and the Lerik in Antiquity Archaeological Project. Her work in this region focuses on how local communities interacted with Imperial forces that incorporated these areas into their large political enterprises at various times. Specifically she looks at how local pastoral and agropastoral production systems changed or resisted change with shifting political landscapes. In her work with these two project she employs similar methodological tools as her dissertation research (zooarchaeological and biogeochemical analyses) to address these thematic issues in a different cultural and temporal context. 

Field Experience

Hannah has participated in fieldwork (including excavations and/or survey in the following places: Azerbaijan (3 projects), Iraq, Israel, Kenya, Tunisia, and Turkey.

She is also involved in the laboratory analysis of collections from Azerbaijan, Iraq, Jordan and Turkey.  


Ristvet, Lauren, Hilary Gopnik, Vəli Baxşəliyev, Hannah Lau, Safar Aşurov and Robert Bryant. 2012. “On the Edge of Empire: 2008 and 2009 Excavations at Oğlanqala, Azerbaijan.” American Journalof Archaeology 116: 321-62.


Campbell, Stuart, Sarah Whitcher Kansa, Rachel Bichener and Hannah Lau. 2014. “Burying things: practices of cultural disposal at late Neolithic Domuztepe, southeast Turkey,” in Remembering and Commemorating the Dead: Recent Contributions in Bioarchaeology and Mortuary Analysis from the Ancient Near East. Porter, Ben and Alexis Bouton, eds. University of Colorado Press, Boulder, pp. 27-60.


2017 Hannah Lau. “Experimentations in Social Complexity: The Halaf Period and evidence from Domuztepe.” Paper presented at the Society for American Archaeology in Vancouver, Canada in March 2017.

2016 Hannah Lau and Kelly J. Knudson. “Herding Practices at Halaf Domuztepe: Implications for Mobility, Cooperation, and Emergent Political Complexity.” Paper presented at the American Schools of Oriental Research Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX in November 2016

2016 Lucas Proctor and Hannah Lau. "Reconstructing land-use and agropastoral production during the Middle Bronze Age of the Southern Caucasus: Preliminary results from Qızqala, Autonomous Republic of Naxçıvan, Azerbaijan." Presentation given at the 81st Annual Meeting for the Societyfor American Archaeology in Orlando, FL in April 2016

2015 Susannah Fishman, Selin E. Nugent, Hannah Lau, and Jen Swerida. “This is the End: An Integrative Approach to Mobility in Monumental Burials.” Poster presented at the American Schools of Oriental Research Annual Meeting in Atlanta, GA in November 2015.

2015 Hannah Lau. “Assessing Emergent Political Complexity through Faunal Remains: Cooperation and Feasting at Halaf Domuztepe.” Presentation given at the International Congress of Young Archaeologists in Tehran in October 2015.

2015 Hannah Lau. “Cooperation and Feasting at Late Neolithic Domuztepe: Assessing Emergent Political Complexity through Faunal Remains.” Presentation given the 80th Annual Meeting for the Society for American Archaeology in San Francisco, CA in April 2015

2015 Selin E. Nugent and Hannah Lau. “Bioarchaeological, zooarchaeological and isotopic mobility indicators from humans and animals from mortuary contexts in Naxcivan, Azerbaijan.” Presentation given the 80th Annual Meeting for the Society for American Archaeology in San Francisco, CA in April 2015

2012 Hannah Lau and Sarah Whitcher Kansa. Animal Management and Consumptive Strategies at Halaf Domuztepe: Implications for Political Economy and Social Complexity. Poster presented at the 77th Annual Meeting for the Society for American Archaeology.

2010 Hannah Lau. Reading Between the Lines: Assessing Agropastoral Strategies of the Early Bronze Age in the Upper Khabur Basin. Paper presented at the American Schools of Oriental Research Annual Meeting in Atlanta, GA in November 2010.


2017 Center for Bioarchaeological Research Pilot Study Grant, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University

2015 Dissertation Year Fellowship, UCLA Graduate Division

2014 Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (with Elizabeth Carter), U.S. National Science Foundation

2013 ARISC Graduate Fellowship, American Research Institute of the Southern Caucasus

2011 UCLA Graduate Summer Research Mentorship, UCLA Graduate Division

2010 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, U.S. National Science Foundation

2009 Phi Beta Kappa, University of Pennsylvania

2008 Goldfein Fellowship, University of Pennsylvania Jewish Studies Department

2008 Explorers Club Youth Activity Fund, The Explorers Club


Elizabeth Carter (Dissertation Chair)

Gregson Schachner

Monica L. Smith

Thomas Wake

Robert Englund