Archaeology Fellow Elected

Photo: Dr Carmen Ting

Homerton College and the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research are pleased to announce Dr Carmen Ting as the fourth Renfrew Fellow in Archaeology, named in honour of the Institute's founding Director, Professor Lord Colin Renfrew. The Fellowship is to be held in association with a Junior Research Fellowship at Homerton.

Dr Ting has a PhD in Archaeological Science from the UCL Institute of Archaeology. Her doctoral research centred on the ‘Maya Collapse’ by looking at the continuities and changes in the Maya ceramic economy using materials from Belize as case studies.

Carmen previously worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Leiden University as part of the ERC-Synergy NEXUS 1492 project, investigating the impact of European colonisation on indigenous pottery techniques in the Caribbean. She then joined the UCL Qatar Sudan Archaeological Project as research associate, examining the inter-craft relation between ceramic and iron production of the Kingdom of Kush in ancient Nubia.

Since 2017, Dr Ting has been a Marie Skłodowska Curie European Fellow at the University of Cyprus, directing the ‘GLAZE’ project on the suitability of using glaze traditions to examine socio-cultural interactions, setting the stage for her project at Cambridge for the Renfrew Fellowship.

In her upcoming project, Dr Ting will investigate the making of Islamic glazes. She says, “Although Islamic glazes are known for their art-historical value, their true value, I would argue, lies in their revolutionary nature. Islamic glazes not only represent a technological revolution that sparked a new chain of innovations in glaze production paving the way to the Industrial Revolution, but also a social revolution that generated new economies and new representations of material culture since medieval times.” “Our present understanding of the beginning and spread of Islamic glazes is largely based on the evidence from the Middle East and western Islamic world as represented by al-Andalus (Islamic Iberia). I will examine, for the first time, the glazes of Central Asia. Glaze production in Central Asia did not begin until after the region was brought under Islamic control, just as in the case of al-Andalus; but, the technologies that were used by the potters in Central Asia appear to have been different from those in al-Andalus.”

“I’m interested in how glaze technologies in Islamic Central Asia developed. Is it possible that knowledge of glaze production was passed to Central Asia through the region’s involvement in the Silk Road trade? How can a comparison of the new evidence from Central Asia and the classic example of al-Andalus inform the factors that shaped the responses of local populations to the new demands brought by the Arabs?” 

Through archaeological science, Carmen will focus on the social dimensions of glaze technologies, focusing on the social processes and different levels of interactions between East and West involved in making Islamic glazes.

“In this sense, the Central Asian glazes might even represent the missing link that connected the Islamic glazes with medieval glaze tradition in China, Persia and Byzantium. This is the first step into investigating how glazed ceramics became a global phenomenon that still has a fundamental impact on our production and consumption habits today.”  

On what the Fellowships mean to her Carmen says, “I am absolutely over the moon on being selected as the next Renfrew Fellow, but I did not get here all by myself. I have received a lot of support, both professionally and personally, from my family, friends and colleagues, not only for this particular fellowship but also along the way. I feel very lucky, and grateful at the same time, to have such an amazing support network to fall back on. I hope I can offer the same support to my peers at the McDonald Institute and Homerton College.” 

Dr Ting will take up the post on 1 October 2019.