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Anthropology: Small receives Fulbright

Archaeologist David Small, professor of anthropology in the department of sociology and anthropology, is the recipient of a Core Fulbright Scholar award to teach and conduct research at the University of Crete in Rethymnon, Greece, for the 2015 spring semester. 

Small, who is also a member of Lehigh’s Classics program, will teach graduate students on topics related to similarities between ancient Greek culture and other archaeological cultures in the world and the evolution of Cretan communities in the Iron Age (ca. 1100-700 BCE). During his time at the university, he will also lead research on the use of elaborate funeral feasting as a window into isolating rapid social change in the Cretan society. Small is interested in how Greek archaeologists view research topics and interests and how they approach their work.

“I want to listen as much as possible and get their view,” he says. “What is their take on their own past? We tend to think our way of doing archaeology is the right way to do it, so it will be good to listen to different views.”

The author of Evolutionary Approaches to the Ancient Greeks, Small focuses his research on cross-cultural comparisons of small states in ancient Greece and Maya. Funded three times by Lehigh faculty research grants, his research has determined that small territorial size allowed members of the elite class to play personal connections outside the territory to gain political advantage. In large territories, the government controls everything, so these connections create instability inside the government itself, says Small. By comparing the two, researchers have a clearer view of weak government structures.

“You have a king, but all of his subordinates are playing their cards as well. The leader was always looking over his shoulder. Subordinates were always playing extraterritorial ties in attempts to subvert the power of the king. That was true of the political economy of ancient Greek city states. It was always flipping from one form of government to another, and it was the same for the Maya.”

Small is the third faculty member of his department to win a Fulbright award in the past three years.

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While in Crete, David Small will examine funeral feasting. Image:Getty Images.