About

I am a historian of the Assyrian empire, interested in study ancient imperialism, organization, and communication. I completed my Ph.D in 2021 at the Department of History at Columbia University with a dissertation titled “Power and Elite Competition in the Neo-Assyrian Empire, 745-612 BC.” For the 2021-22 academic year, I hold the position of Visiting Professor of History and Political Science at Warren Wilson College.

My dissertation examines the careers of Assyrian provincial governors and other mid-level officials. Using several thousand official letters which survive from this period, as well as analytical tools borrowed from the fields of social network analysis, organizational communication, and leader-member exchange theory, I analyze the social connections, status, and career progression of these officials. Understanding empire as a dynamic process enacting power relationships which are created and maintained through communication, I argue that Sargon II greatly expanded the number of provinces as well as the number of officials, increasing competition between them. These structural changes to the empire created an often-vicious competition for status, a decrease in effective communication, and made the king less able to assert control over his officials. Kings attempted to remedy this through special agents, loyalty oaths, and scholars who could test officials’ loyalty through divination, but all of these proved ineffective.

Education

2021 – Ph.D, History, Columbia University.
— Dissertation: “Power and Elite Competition in the Neo-Assyrian Empire, 745-612 BC.”
2017 – M.Phil, History, Columbia University.
2016 – M.A., History, Columbia University.
2014 – M.A., Biblical Archaeology, Wheaton College.
2011 – B.A., Peace, War & Defense, History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Other Publications

Journal Articles:

New Light on the Assassination of Sennacherib.” Nouvelles Assyriologiques Brèves et Utilitaires 2019-2 (June 2019): 88-90.

Understanding ISIS’s Destruction of Antiquities as a Rejection of Nationalism.” Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies 6, No. 1-2 (2018): 32-58.

Book Chapters:

“Art and Heritage Destruction in Media.” in The Routledge Handbook of Heritage Destruction. Edited by Antonio Gonzalez Zarandona, Emma Cunliffe, and Melathi Saldin. London: Routledge, forthcoming 2022.

“Identifying Centers of Domestication.” P. 106-108, 203-205 in An Educator’s Handbook for Teaching About the Ancient World, Volume 1. Edited by Pinar Durgun. Oxford: Archaeopress, 2020.

Reviews:

Testing the Canon of Ancient Near Eastern Art and Archaeology. Edited by Amy Gansell and Ann Shafer (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020), in Ancient Near Eastern Studies, forthcoming.

Culture in Crisis: Preserving Cultural Heritage in Conflict Zones (Washington, DC: The Antiquities Coalition/Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, 2017), in Future Anterior: Journal of Historic Preservation, History, Theory, and Criticism 15, No. 1 (Summer 2018): 68-77.

Print Articles (Non Peer Reviewed):

“The qurbūtu: The Assyrian King’s Elite Bodyguard.” Ancient Warfare 14, no. 6: 25-25.

“Işid Neden Yok Ediyor?” Aktüel Arkeoloji No. 52 (Temmuz-Ağustos [July-August] 2016): 14-23 [in Turkish].

Online Articles (Non Peer Reviewed):

“Hatra’s Embattled History: From the Romans to ISIS.” Apollo: The International Art Magazine, May 23, 2017.
“What Central Africa’s War on Poaching Can Teach Us About Fighting the Plunder of Antiquities.” HyperAllergic, July 5, 2016.
“The Centre of Learning Destroyed by ISIS in Iraq.” Apollo: The International Art Magazine, June 17, 2016.
“Another Treasure Lost in Iraq: The Story of Mar Behnam Monastery.” HyperAllergic, June 23, 2015.
“In Battle Against ISIS, Saving Lives or Ancient Artifacts.” HyperAllergic, April 17, 2015.
“What ISIS Destroys, Why, and Why We Must Document It.” HyperAllergic, March 6, 2015.

Conference Presentations:

“Fragmentation, Leveling and a Lack of Effective Control: How Neo-Assyrian Kings Simultaneously Bolstered and Undermined Royal Authority in Babylonia and Beyond.” November 18-21, American Schools of Oriental Research Annual Meeting, Boston, Massachusetts (Paper accepted but withdrawn due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will present in 2021).

“A Great King Without Rival: The Literary Memory of Sargon of Akkad in 8th-7th Century Assyria as a Background for Nimrod in Genesis 10:8-12.” November 24, 2019, Society of Biblical Literature Annual Conference, San Diego, California.

“Power and Elite Competition in the Neo-Assyrian Empire: Towards a Social Network-Based Model.” November 23, 2019, American Schools of Oriental Research Annual Meeting, San Diego, California.

“Removing shirk and jahiliyyah: ISIS’s Destruction of the Pre-Islamic Past as a Rejection of Nationalism.” November 18, 2017, special panel on “The Past in Peril and the Perils of the Past: Ancient History in Modern Near Eastern Politics,” Society of Biblical Literature Annual Conference, Boston, Massachusetts.

Blog Posts

    Upcoming Talks and Conferences

    “The Decline and Fall of the Assyrian Empirein Babylonia: An Organizational Communication Perspective.” November 17-20, 2021, American Society of Overseas Research Annual Meeting, Chicago, Illinois [upcoming].

    “The Neo-Assyrian Background of Genesis 10:1-4 and its Implications for Dating the Priestly Source.” November 20-23, 2021, Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, San Antonio, Texas [upcoming].

    Memberships

    American Schools of Oriental Research
    Society of Biblical Literature

    Christopher Jones

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