Winners announced: CBRL’s undergraduate dissertation prizes 2022

We are delighted to announce the winners of CBRL’s 2022 prize for Best Undergraduate Dissertation in Levantine studies.

  • The 2022 prize for the Contemporary Levantine Studies category is awarded to Iona Clark for her dissertation ‘Irish and Indian influences on colonial policing in British Mandate Palestine, c 1922 – 1939′ completed at the University of Cambridge’s Faculty of History.
  • The prize for Levantine Archaeology or History has been awarded jointly to Harrison Potter for his dissertation ‘Alashiya: using the distribution of Minoan pottery to discern site hierarchy and as an indicator of authority on Late Bronze Age (c.1650-1050 BC) Cyprus’ completed at the Department of Archaeology, University of Reading and Daisy Brunt for her dissertation ‘The Economics of the Use of Horses and Chariots in Warfare in the East Mediterranean during the Late Bronze Age’ completed at the Department of Archaeology, University of Durham.
  • We are pleased to award a commendation also in the category of Levantine Archaeology or History, to Clarissa Sipple-Asher for her dissertation ‘Archaeology or Espionage: An Investigation into Satellite Remote Sensing Ethics in the Middle East’, completed at the Department of Archaeology, University of Glasgow.

Each year, CBRL invites UK-based heads of departments and chairs of departmental examination boards to nominate one final year first-class dissertation in Levantine studies, ancient or contemporary.

The prize evaluating committee, made up of CBRL trustees, commented that the winning dissertations showcased work that was highly original in scope and undertaken with excellent interpretation of background or context.

Congratulations to our winners!

Undergraduate Dissertation Prize 2022 for Contemporary Levantine Studies

Iona Clark

Iona Clark – Winner

Dissertation title: Irish and Indian influences on colonial policing in British Mandate Palestine, c.1922-1939

“My dissertation used largely unstudied archival materials to assess the extent to which colonial knowledge and attitudes about policing were transferred through – what Laleh Khalili terms – ‘horizontal circuits’ from Ireland and India to Palestine during the Mandate period.

There is a prominent strand of literature on policing and colonial force in Mandate Palestine that relies heavily on the idea that the Palestine Police Force was based on the so-called ‘Irish model’ of policing, but with little engagement with what this ‘Irish model’ meant in practice, and to what extent it informed policing in Palestine. Focusing on the initial transfer of officers from the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) to the British Gendarmerie (which later became the Palestine Police Force) in 1922, and following the force through to the end of the Arab Revolt in 1939, the dissertation attempted to assess to what extent and how colonial policing in Ireland influenced the policing of Mandate Palestine. Contrary to the established narrative in which there was extensive influence in the 1920s that dropped off and reappeared in 1936, my dissertation concluded that there was significant direct and indirect transfers of knowledge and attitudes from the RIC. In 1937, Sir Charles Tegart (who had been Police Commissioner in Calcutta) visited Palestine to advise on police reform. This Indian influence was critical to the methods used to police the Arab Revolt, and has been largely ignored by historians so far. As India and Ireland were conceptualised in similar ways by colonial thought, such influence also helped reinforce attitudes influenced by the RIC.

This dissertation was completed as part of my undergraduate degree in History at the University of Cambridge. I’m currently working as a research assistant and coordinator on the Cambridge Future of the Island of Ireland series. I hope to start a master’s course next year in International Politics and pursue a career in international conflict resolution.”

Undergraduate Dissertation Prize 2022 for Levantine Archaeology or History

Harrison Potter

Harrison Potter – Joint winner

Dissertation title: Alashiya: using the distribution of Minoan pottery to discern site hierarchy and as an indicator of authority on Late Bronze Age (c.1650-1050 BC) Cyprus

“The Bronze Age state of Alashiya and its application onto the island of Cyprus remains an intriguing, elusive and highly debated field. Throughout contemporary epigraphic attestations from a plethora of regions in the east Mediterranean a key trait could be discerned about the entity, its inter-regional connectivity (embellished by copper production). The working hypothesis was that the centre of Alashiya would garner the most intercultural contact, and should this contact largely shift the centre would have followed the conversion. Numerous factors affecting my research needed consideration, from excavation bias, topographical site variation, subsequent landscape exploitation and site role specialization. After contextualizing Alashiya in the Late Bronze Age framework of the east Mediterranean, each site was then assessed on its chronological fluctuations of Minoan ceramic material and the typology of each assemblage was assessed for items indicative of migration or routine trade, keeping in mind academic theories like the Versaille effect to ensure a measured assessment.

Whilst the data set size collated was small and deemed unsuitable to be definitive, the dissertation provided multiple valuable results on the subject’s nature and generated suggestions should the patterns found be indicative. This included elaboration on issues and circumnavigating actions on areas like missing academic publication, the effects on the archaeology from the 1974 conflict and longstanding partition, plus positive lessons to be exploited in future for expanding and enhancing the methodology used. Joint-winning this award is a real honour and I must thank my academic tutor and supervisor Professor Roger Matthews for his constant support throughout the degree, dissertation and covid years. I must also thank Dr. Marialucia Amadio for her kind and helpful discussions about the field helping my development.

My degree at the University of Reading was highly rewarding, academically stimulating, whilst also incorporating vital practical experience. I plan on continuing academic research by doing an MRes at Durham and hopefully proceeding onwards to a PhD. I would like to continue to an academic post and help progress further study in two main areas: Bronze Age Cyprus and the application of archaeology to modern 18th-20th century historical contexts and environments.”


Daisy Brunt

Daisy Brunt – Joint winner

Dissertation title:  The Economics of the Use of Horses and Chariots in Warfare in the East Mediterranean during the Late Bronze Age

“My dissertation was an interdisciplinary dive into the economics of the uses of large-scale chariot armies of the empires of the eastern Mediterranean during the Late Bronze Age. I chose to focus my research on the Kingdom of Ugarit, now Tell Ras Sharma in modern day Syria, a vassal state of the larger Hittite empire based in Anatolia. The purpose of the paper was to gain an understanding of the previously under researched topic of chariot armies and their economic and social impact both broadly and from the perspective of a single settlement. By focusing my research on the singular settlement of Ugarit, I was able to dedicate my time to exploring both the uses of chariots more broadly across the Hittite empire as well as the political influences vassal states were subjected to and the key role they played in provisioning the military and the subsequent affects this had on their economy.

Using the documentary sources, I investigated the production capacity of the agricultural villages in Ugarit typically using local translations of tax records written in Akkadian or sometimes the local Ugaritic and approximations of the amount of productive land. I then went on to analyse patterns in the documentary data to explore the potential size of chariot divisions and compared this with modern data and academic resources to assess the amount of grain and equipment would be needed to sustain this type of army. Using the Ugaritic Hippocratic texts, amongst other resources, I was able to identify the usual diet of a typical Ugaritic horse. I then used modern veterinary resources to establish nutritional needs of horses in intense work, taking into account the differences between modern horses and bronze age horses. This enabled me to establish the subsequent cost of maintaining a chariot horse in grain. I did something similar for the chariot soldiers using academic works from scholars of the roman army and modern US army statistics. Using this this work, I calculated the total calories needed per animal and per soldier and compared that to the grain production capacity of Ugarit. I was then able to suggest the maximum number of chariots Ugarit could sustain using their entire grain economy. In treaties between vassal states and the Hittites it is suggested that they had obligations to contribute 100 chariots to the Hittite army whose maintenance I calculated to be around 35% of the total grain economy for Ugarit. A huge obligation and ultimately suggestive of the huge political, economic and social impacts of the vassalage system and the wider impact of lavish chariot armies as well as the ubiquitous presence of war. The next stage of this investigation is the establishment of the cost of additional elements of the chariot army such as stable masters and trainers.

My love and knowledge of horses came in very handy when conducting this research and I think evidence of the archaeologist’s need to explore and consult other disciplines to gain a composite view of their area of investigation. In June I graduated from Durham University with a degree in Archaeology, and whilst I am currently working in London I hope to continue my studies with a masters in the future.”