Albert Ammerman

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Albert Ammerman

Research Professor

Department/Office Information

Lawrence Hall


He is a research professor in the Department of the Classics, and his two main fields of interest are archaeology of the Mediterranean world and placing archaeological sites in an environmental context. 

The main focus of his career over the past 40 years has been on research.  The topics that he has explored run from the pioneering work that him and Luca Cavalli-Sforza did at Stanford in the 1970s in bringing together human genetics and archaeology, a new field of research, through the work that he is now doing on the origins of seafaring in the Mediterranean. 

He has often divided his time between teaching at Colgate for a semester and conducting projects in Rome, Athens, and Venice or more recently on islands such as Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean. In the upcoming Fall 2013 semester, he will be leading the Colgate Study Group to Venice.

He was also the organizer for a meeting, sponsored by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, on “Island Archaeology and the Origins of Seafaring in the Eastern Mediterranean,” which was held at Reggio Calabria in October of 2012. 

On the evolution of his research interests over the years, please see this profile written by John Bohannon that appeared in Science in 2007. A recent Colgate podcast focuses on Ammerman's examination of saving Venice from acqua alta.

PhD, Institute of Archaeology in London, 1972; BA, University of Michigan, 1964

Origins and spread of agriculture, landscape archaeology, early Rome, development of interdisciplinary studies

Early seafaring in the eastern Mediterranean, early architectural terracottas in and around Rome, Neolithic transition in Europe

Over the years, he has taught the following courses at Colgate:  Legacies of the Ancient World, World Archaeology, Archaeology of Italy, Roman Archaeology, Venice: the City on Water, and World Food and Hunger. 

He was the O’Connor Visiting Professor of the Humanities in fall 2007 and in spring 2009, and director of the Venice Study Group in 1999 and 2009. 

In addition, he has taught in the human biology program at Stanford and at Binghamton University, as well as at the universities of Parma and Trento in Italy.

Listed below are six of the main topics that he has investigated along with a selection of three publications on each given topic.

1.  The first argonauts:  The origins of seafaring in the Eastern Mediterranean.  (There are plans to publish the proceedings of the Wenner-Gren Workshop on this subject. ) 

  • "The first Argonauts: toward the study of the earliest seafaring in the Mediterranean." In A. Anderson and K. Boyle (eds.), The Global Origins and Development of Seafaring.  Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, 81-92, 2010.
  • "The paradox of early voyaging in the Mediterranean and the slowness of the Neolithic transition between Cyprus and Italy."  In G. Vavouranakis (ed.), Seascapes in Aegean Prehistory. Athens: Danish Institute of Athens, in press. 
  • "Underwater investigation at the early sites of Aspros and Nissi Beach on Cyprus."  In J. Benjamin, C. Bonsall, C. Pickard and A. Fischer (eds.), Submerged Prehistory. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 263-271, 2011 (A.J. Ammerman, D. Howitt-Marshall, J. Benjamin and T. Turnbull).

2.  Sourcing the roof tiles and architectural terracottas at early sites in and around Rome.

  • "Environmental archaeology in the Velabrum, Rome: Interim report." Journal of Roman Archaeology 11:213-223, 1998.
  • "The clay beds in Velabrum and the earliest tiles in Rome."  Journal of Roman Archaeology 21:71-30,2008 (Ammerman et al.).
  • Winter, N.A., Iliopoulos, I. and Ammerman, A.J.. "New light on the production of decorated roofs of the 6th c. B.C. at sites in and around Rome."  Journal of Roman Archaeology 22:7-28, 2009.  

3.  The origins of Venice and also saving Venice from flooding.

  • "Sea-level change and the archaeology of early Venice."  Antiquity 73:303-312, 1999 (A. J. Ammerman, C. E. McClennen, M. De Min and R. Housley).
  • "Saving Venice." Science 289:1301-1302, 2000. (A. J. Ammerman and C. E. McClennen)
  • Venice before San Marco: Recent Studies on the Origins of the City. Hamilton, New York: Colgate University, 2001 (A.J. Ammerman and C.E. McClennen).

4.  Origins of the Forum and other landscape transformation in early Rome.

  • "On the origins of Forum Romanum." American Journal of Archaeology 94: 627-645, 1990.
  • "Dal Tevere all’Argileto." Bullettino della Commissione Archeologica Communale di Roma 105: 7-28, 2005 (A.J. Ammerman and D. Filippi).
  • "Forum in Rome."  In M. Gagarin and E. Fantom (eds.), The New Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome. Oxford: Oxford University Press, vol. 3, 212-222, 2010.  

5.  The Neolithic transition in Europe

  • "The wave of advance model for the spread of early farming."  In Renfrew, C. and K.L.  Cooke (eds.), Transformations: Mathematical Approached to Culture Change.  New York: Academic Press, 275-293, 1979 (A. J. Ammerman and L. L. Cavalli Sforza).
  • The Neolithic Transition and the Genetic of Populations in Europe. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984 (A. J. Ammerman and L. L. Cavalli Sforza).
  • "The Widening Harvest: The Neolithic Transition in Europe." Boston: Archaeological Institute of America, 2003 (eds. A. J. Ammerman and P. Biagi).

6.  Surveys and excavations at Neolithic sites in Calabria, Italy

  • "The Acconia Survey: Neolithic Settlement and the Obsidian Trade."  Institute of Archaeology, University of London, Occasional Publication No. 10, 1985.
  • "A Neolithic household at Piana di Curinga, Italy." Journal of Field Archaeology 15: 121-140, 1988 (A. J. Ammerman, G. Shaffer and N. Hartmann).
  • "The dynamics of modern land use and the Acconia Survey." Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 8:77-92, 1995.


  • Fellowship at the level of full professor, American Council of Learned Societies (Origins of Rome, 2003-04)
  • Kress Senior Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art (Reconstructing Ancient Rome, 1995-96)
  • Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (Environmental Studies in Ancient Rome, 1990-91)
  • Mellon Fellowship in Classical Studies, American Academy in Rome (early Rome, 1987-88)
  • Research Fellowship, National Endowment for the Humanities (Vico’s Anthropology, 1984)

Research Grants and Major Institutional Support

  • Cassa per il Mezzogiorno, Italy (Calabria Survey)
  • City of Rome (Early Rome)
  • Colgate University (origins of Venice)
  • Delmas Foundation (early Venice)
  • Fulbright International Exchange Programs (Cyprus)
  • Institute for Aegean Prehistory (Aegean Thrace and Cyprus)
  • Kress Foundation (early Venice)
  • Ministry of Culture, Italy (early Rome and early Venice)
  • National Geographic Society (Rome, Athens and Venice)
  • National Science Foundation (Calabria and Sahara)
  • State University of New York Awards Foundation (Calabria)
  • Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (Parma, Calabria surveys and two of its workshops)
  • Williams, II, 1984 Foundation (sourcing the earliest roof tiles and architectural terracottas in Rome)  

Invited Lectures

Calabria Neolithic Project:
Amsterdam, Arizona, Berkeley, Cambridge, Columbia, Durham, Harvard, London, Ljubljana, Michigan, Oxford, Padua, Pennsylvania, Pisa, Rome, Southampton, Stanford, Tennessee, UCLA, Valencia, Venice, Washington.  

Early Rome:
American Academy (Rome), American School (Athens), Amherst, Berkeley, British School (Rome), Cambridge, CAARI (Cyprus), Cornell, Exeter, Glasgow, Lecce, Lisbon, London, Michigan, Oxford, Pennsylvania, Princeton, SUNY Buffalo, Venice, Williams.

Early Venice:
Berkeley, Bowdoin, Cambridge, CAARI (Cyprus), Cornell, Lecce, Padua, Princeton, Venice, Warwick.

Early Cyprus:
ASCSA (Athens), Athens (University), Cornell, CAARI (Cyprus), Edinburgh, Glasgow, Istanbul, Lecce, Michigan, Oxford, Padua, Patras, Pennsylvania, Smithsonian Institution, Venice, York.