Winners Announcement: CBRL Master’s Dissertation Prize for Levantine Studies 2023

We are delighted to announce the Winners and Honourable Mentions of CBRL’s Master’s Dissertation Prizes – 2023!

Every 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.


Durham University

Winner of the Master’s Prize for Levantine Archaeology or History

Dissertation Title: Messages in the Desert: A Spatial Analysis of Safaitic Inscriptions in the Geographical and Cultural Landscape of the Black Desert

Comments from Assessor: This is a well-written, structured and data rich dissertation that draws on primary data from the EAMENA and OCIANA databases and Google Earth imagery to explore the location and meanings of Safaitic inscriptions in the Jordanian and Syrian Black Desert. The structure of the thesis, research aims and objectives and introduction to the study are very good.  It is an excellent piece of work; and it is hoped that the author goes onto complete further research on the subject.

Bio: Anthea Crane has recently completed an MA Archaeology at Durham University, and is currently Subject Librarian in Egyptology and Ancient Near East Studies at the Bodleian Libraries. Previously, she completed an undergraduate degree in Ancient Languages at UCL and a PGDip in Archaeology and Heritage at the University of Leicester. Anthea will be starting a PhD in Archaeology at UCL in September 2024, developing a research project that will combine her research interests in ancient mobility, the materiality of texts, and the use of computational methods in landscape archaeology. 



Honourable Mention for Master’s Prize for Levantine Archaeology or History

Dissertation Title: Exploring the first indicators of Neolithic pastoralism in the Azraq basin, Jordan through the faunal remains from Bawabaat al-Ghazal

Comments from Assessor: A very good, solid, faunal report. It is an extremely well put together and detailed assessment of the material under study.

Bio: Sophia De Schiffart recently completed her MSc in Environmental Archaeology from UCL in October 2023 where her research focused on studying early subsistence strategies using zooarchaeological methods. Her dissertation was a study based on the faunal remains from the site of Bawabaat al-Ghazal located near the Azraq oasis on the edge of the eastern Jordanian Badia. The dissertation examined questions regarding early hunting and herding strategies. She has enjoyed researching this region through the study of the remains from Bawabaat and as a member of the Eastern Badia Archaeological Project. She will continue examining the correlations between environmental changes and evolving subsistence strategies as she begins a PhD at the University of Connecticut in the fall of 2024. 



Honourable Mention for Master’s Prize for Contemporary Levantine Studies

Dissertation Title: Elite Anglo-Jordanian connections in the late 1980s and 1990s  

Comments from Assessor: This impressive dissertation examines Britain’s informal relationship with Jordan in the late 1980s and 1990s. Using a wide range of primary material, much of it new, the dissertation builds up a rich and original picture of Anglo-Jordanian relations. This is an original and theoretically nimble analysis of Anglo-Jordanian connections, which will be useful to scholars of both Jordanian state formation and British foreign policy in the Middle East. 

Bio: Joseph Hearn is a student of modern Middle Eastern history and politics, with a focus on British policy towards Jordan and Palestine. He holds a First in History from Cambridge and an MA (Distinction) in Middle Eastern Studies from SOAS. He has researched Israeli-Palestinian relations and worked on Track-II diplomatic efforts as an intern with Hiba Husseini, a former legal adviser to Palestinian peace delegations. He has also been a Peace Advocacy Fellow with the Balfour Project and worked as a research intern with Human Rights at Sea. He is now converting to law, with an interest in international work focused on the Middle East.