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Environment & Sustainability Program University of South Carolina

712 Sumter Street, EWS 603
Columbia, SC 29208, USA

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Jennifer R. Pournelle



Research Associate Professor
Environment & Sustainability Program

Ph.D., 2003, Anthropology (Archaeology), University of California, San Diego

Contact Information:

Byrnes Building Room 430A

Sealands Archaeology and Environment Program

Curriculum Vita   Postholes (Iraq Blog)   | Academia.edu | 
Linked In | Amazon.com | ResearchGate | Experiment.com |

Research Interests

Landscape archaeology, anthropological archaelogy, complex societies, cultural ecology, historical ecology, archaeology of the Middle East. Interpretation of air photography and satellite imagery toward landscape reconstruction through time. My research focuses on the environmental dimensions of social and cultural change in wetland environments, especially regarding urban origins and sustainability in deltaic settings. Currently, I am invesitgating the possibility and efficacy of using constructed wetlands to remediate petroleum production, agricultural, and urban wastewater streams in southern Iraq. Future work will study past and present strategies for biomass energy extraction from natural environments.

Past experience includes arms control, information technology, and training consultancy in Europe and the Middle East, and fieldwork in Malaysia, Italy, southeastern Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, the Republic of Georgia, and Azerbaijan, including research financed by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Geographic Society, the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, the University of California Office of Research, as an American School of Oriental Research Mesopotamian Fellow, and as Visiting Research Fellow at University College London - Qatar 

In the Media: Video

National Geographic TV
Diving Into Noah's Flood
WLTX News: Environmental 
Lessons from Iraq
Secrets of Noah's Ark
National Science Foundaion:
Investigating Iraqi Marshes
UofSC SEOE Focus Area:
Environment & Sustainability
Digital Humanities:
Always Coming Home
Wreck Diving Magazine TV: 
In Search of the Winged Bull
YouTube Channel:
Research Projects in Iraq


In the Media: Print

2015    The Real Noah's Ark, by Blink Films. Broadcast by UK Channel 4, Shaw, PBS Nova ("Secrets of Noah's Ark"), France 5, and National Geographic International

2014       In South Carolina, building a new generation of Iraqi faculty, by Alia Malek. Al Jazeera America, July 13, 2014 5:00AM ET

2014       Can Iraq's lost marshes be restored? by Alia Malek. Al Jazeera America,July 13, 2014 5:00AM ET

2014       Against All Odds: Water From Oil Restoring Iraq’s Marshes by Fran Gillespie. Gulf Times 6 June 2014.

2014       USC experiments with new option for research funds, by Thad Moore. Daily Gamecock, 17 April.

2014       Online crowdfunding offers alternatives for researchers needing smaller budgets, by April Blake. USC Today, 31 March.

2012       Focus: Rule of Law. USC research professor Jennifer Pournelle leads other researchers through parts of the world experiencing political upheaval. U of SC President’s Report.

2012       Lessons from Iraq: Urban marshes and city survival by Steven Powell. Science Daily 4 October.

2012       Satellites expose 8,000 years of civilization. Virginia Gewin, Nature 19 March 2012

2012       Uncovering Civilization's Roots. Andrew Lawler, Science 335 (17 February).

2011       Did the First Cities Grow from Marshes? Andrew Lawler. Science 331 (14 January).

2011      Archaeologists Investigate Iraqi Marshes for Origins of Mesopotamian Cities. National Science Foundation, 31 March. Includes Photo Gallery and videos.

2011       (With Carrie Hritz) Archaeologists explore Iraqi marshes for origins of urbanization. Science Daily 31 March.

2010       Ancient Cities Sprang from Marshes by USC Media Relations. USC News, 22 February. (Includes video).

Courses Taught

ENVR 790A/ENVR 790B  (MEERM-AWNES Internships)
ENVR 590 (Environmental Science Senior Capstone)
ENVR 499 (Undergraduate Research)
ENVR 331 (Integrating Sustainability)
COLA 298 (Capstone Abroad 2011: Water and Life in the Middle East)
ENVR 101 (Introduction to the Environment)

Selected Publlications

In Press (With Carrie Hritz).  “Resilient Landscapes: Riparian Evolution in the Wetlands of Southern Iraq.” In: New Agendas in Remote Sensing and Landscape Archaeology in the Near East, ed. by Dan Lawrence, Mark Altaweel, and Graham Philip. Chicago: The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.
(With Carrie Hritz). "Feeding History: Deltaic Resilience, Inherited Practice, and Millennial-Scale Sustainability in an Urbanized Landscape."   In: Viewing the Future in the Past: Historical Ecology Applied to Environmental Issues, ed. by H. Thomas Foster II, David John Goldstein, and Lisa M. Paciulli. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press. 
(With Guillermo Algaze). “Travels in Edin: Deltaic Resilience and Early Urbanism in Greater Mesopotamia.” In: Preludes to Urbanism: Studies in the Late Chalcolithic of Mesopotamia in Honour of Joan Oates, ed. by H. Crawford, A. McMahon, and J. N. Postgate. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.
Bull. Wreck Diving Magazine 33 (July).
(With Hritz, C, and J. Smith. "Revisiting the Sealands: Report of Preliminary Ground Reconnaissance in ihe Hammar District, Dhi Qar and Basra Governorates, Iraq." Iraq LXXIV: 1–13.
"Physical Geography." In: The Sumerian World, ed. by H. Crawford. Routledge Companion to Museum Ethics. Oxford: Routledge. Oxford: Routledge, pp. 13–32. In press: October 29, 2012.
(With Hritz, C, and J. Smith.) 2012. "Mid-Holocene Dates for Organic-Rich Sediment, Palustrine Shell, and Charcoal, Southern Iraq." Radiocarbon 54(1): 6579. Tucson: University of Arizona.
Seven Strong Selected Poems. In: Seven Strong: Winners of the South Carolina Poetry Book Prize, 2006–2012, ed. Kwame Dawes, with foreword by Marjory Wentworth. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press.
Excavations: a City Cycle. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press. 2010 Winner, South Carolina Poetry Initiative Book Prize.
Outies OutiesW. Columbia, SC: New Brookland Press. A work of environmental science fiction.
2009 (With Fletcher, M., D. Porter, H. Kelsey, V. Shervette, and D. Ramage). "A Southeast Regional Testbed for Integrating Complex Coastal and Ocean Information Systems." Proceedings of the Marine Technical Society/IEEE Conference on Marine Technology for our Future: Global and Local Challenges (OCEANS '09), Biloxi, Mississippi, 26-29 October 2009.
From KLM to Corona: Using satellite photography toward a new understanding of 5th/4th millennium BC landscapes in southern Mesopotamia. In: Settlement and Society: Ecology, Urbanism, Trade and Technology in Ancient Mesopotamia, ed. by E. Stone UCLA: Cotsen Institute and Chicago: Oriental Institute.

(With Guillermo Algaze). Climatic change, environmental change, and social change at Early Bronze Age Titriş Höyük: Can correlation and causation be untangled? In: From Villages to Cities: Early Villages in the Near East. Essays in Honor of Ufuk Esin, ed. by Mehmet Ozdogan. Istanbul: ASY.
The Littoral Foundations of the Uruk State: Using satellite photography toward a new understanding of 5th/4th millennium BCE landscapes in the Warka Survey Area, Iraq.    [Original Figures]
In: Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age Hydrostrategies. Papers held at the International Union of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Science 2001 Congress, Liège, ed. by D. Gheorghiu: 5–24. B.A.R. International Series 1123. Oxford: Archaeopress.
Anatolica 27 Site-wide operations: The material foundations of Late EBA urbanization at Titriş. Titriş and its hinterland: The EBA landscape of the city. (With Guillermo Algaze and Timothy Matney) Conclusions. In: Research at Titriş Höyük in southeastern Turkey: the 1999 season. Guillermo Algaze, Timothy Matney, et al. Anatolica 27 (2001): 23–106. Leiden: Netherlands Institute for the Near East.

Invited Presentations

2014  Return to Iraq: New Archaeological Initiatives in Southern Iraq. American School of Oriental Research, Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA 14 November. Panel Co-Organizer (with Carrie Hritz) and Presenter.

2013  "Unug, Uruk, Erech, Iraq: Marshes, Cities, Resilience, and Sustainability." University of London - Qatar. 19 November.

2013  “Lessons from Iraq: Marshes and Urban Resilience” Colloquium on the Comparative Study of Agrarian Societies. Yale University Program in Agrarian Studies, 6 September.

2013  Landscape- and Geo-archaeology in Basra Governorate, Iraq. The American Archaeological Research Institute in Iraq & The Iraq State Board of Antiquities & Heritage, Baghdad, Iraq, May.

2013  "Water and Sustainability in the Middle East: Past Lessons, Future Prospects." Pennsylvania State University Dept. of Anthropology, 1 February.

2012  The Sealands Archaeology and Environment Program: First Report on the Archaeological Landscapes of the Basrah Governorate. American School of Oriental Research, Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, 14 November. 

2012  “Water, Development, Rights, and Rule of Law.” Interagency Rule of Law Training Course, Washington, D.C., 7 May.

2012  "Water and Sustainability in the Middle East." Palmetto Forum, Summit Club, Columbia, SC, 7 March.

2012 "Building Partnerships between U.S. and Iraqi Universities - Initiating and Sustaining Institutional Linkages for Research Collaboration.” Iraqi American University Conference, Washington DC, 22–23 February.

2011  “The evolution of river systems since the Last Glacial Maximum and their interactions with human societies.” American Geophysical Union, San Francisco, CA, 9 December.

2011  Models and Trends in Contemporary Higher Education.” Institute of International Education, Erbil, Iraq, 22–24 June.

2011  “Water, Development, Rights, and ROL.” Interagency Rule of Law Training Course, Columbia, SC, 9–13 May.

2011  “Environmental Security.” Predeployment/Preposting ROL Short Course, Washington, DC, 24–25 March.

2011  "Exploring Iraq’s Garden of Eden." Keynote Address, Explorer’s Club National Meeting, Charleston, SC, February 2011.

2010 Three Degrees of Separation”  Session Two: Climate Change & Regional Biomass Policy: Challenges and Opportunities (Presenter & Facilitator). USC School of Environment and School of Law, November 11-12.

2010  Conflict, Livelihoods, and the Environment: Water, War, and the Iraqi Marshlands. Keynote Address, Davidson College, 7:00 pm, October 27th.

2010  Future Threats: Water and ROL in Transitional and Post Conflict Zones. The University of South Carolina Rule of Law Collaborative (ROLC) Inaugural Conference on Rule of Law in Transitional and Post-Conflict Zones, May 10-14th.

2010 (With Carrie Hritz). Feeding History: Deltaic Resilience, Inherited Practice, and Millennial-Scale Sustainability in an Urbanized Landscape. At: From Field to Table: Historical Ecology of Regional Subsistence Strategies. University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, March 18-21.

2009 KLM to Corona: Deltaic Landscapes and the Birth of Cities, University of South Carolina Geography Colloquium, 3:30 pm, Sept. 11th, Callcott Building, Room 201.

2005 The View from the South: Deltaic Landscapes and the Heartland of Cities. From Sumer to Southern Iraq: Invited Archaeology Session. American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, November–December 2005.

2004 Deltaic landscape at the Dawn of Mesopotamian Civilization. Eastern Mediterranean/Near Eastern Geoarchaeology Meeting, University of Tübingen, May 2004.

2004 Marshland of Cities: Visualizing Landscapes in Southern Iraq. Fourth International Conference on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (4ICAANE), Berlin, March 2004.

2002 Marshland Hinterlands? Toward a Rural Economy of Mesopotamian Wetlands. University of Durham (England) Departments of Archaeology and Geography, 20 June 2002.

2002 Identifying Fortified Outposts and Hydrology Near Merv, Turkmenistan. University of Bologna Department of Archaeology, Bologna, Italy, May 2002.

2002 Is the Medium the Message? Interpreting CORONA Photography in Southern Iraq. University of Chicago Department of Anthropology, February 2002.

2001 Founded on Sand: The Satellite Imagery Revolution and Southern Mesopotamian Societies. American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Washington, DC., December 2001.

2001 Social implications of 5th/4th Millennium BC Deltaic Landscapes in Southern Mesopotamia. American Schools of Oriental Research Annual Meeting, Boulder, CO, 14–17 November 2001.

2001 From KLM to Corona: Using Satellite Photography Toward a New Understanding of Landscapes in Southern Mesopotamia. Archaeological Institute of America Annual Meeting, Distinguished Archaeological Achievement Gold Medal Panel in Honor of Robert McC. Adams. Philadelphia, PA, 3–6 January 2001.

2000 Old skins, New Wine: Corona Satellite Photography and Urban Origins in the Ancient Near East. JASON, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA, 20 July 2000.

1999 Building an Early Bronze Age City: Titriş in its landscape. Archaeological Institute of America, San Diego, CA, October 1999.

1999 The Mesopotamian Heartland Revisited: Identifying 4th millennium BC Rivers in Babylonia. The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, March 1999.

1995 Wired for Peace: Virtual Diplomacy in Northeast Asia. Promoting Regional Cooperation for the Northeast Asian Cooperation Dialogue. Cosponsored by the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation and the United States Department of Energy. Moscow, Russia.

1995 Wired for Peace: Virtual Diplomacy in the Middle East. Promoting Regional Cooperation for the Middle East. Cosponsored by the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Petra, Jordan.

Citations in Related Works

Google Scholar

Selected Professional Experience

2010– Research Assistant Professor, University of South Carolina Environment and Sustainability Program.

2009–2010 Research Fellow, University of South Carolina School of the Environment. Acting Director for program development and expansion of the MEERM degree; development support for SOE research initiatives.

2006–2008 Documentation Manager, LEAD Technologies, Charlotte, NC. Managed production of commercial programmer help systems, program sample source code, and related marketing materials and web presence for an award-winning imagery software manufacturer.

2003–2004 Assistant Director, USAID-Iraq—SUNY Stony Brook University Program for Higher Education and Development in Archaeology and Environmental Health. Managed reconstruction of archaeology departments and re-training of faculty and graduate students at universities in Iraq.

1994–2002 Principal/Senior (Managing) Editor, University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation (UC-IGCC), La Jolla, CA. A system-wide research unit comprising programs on ten UC campuses and three national laboratories, conducting multi-disciplinary research on climate change, water and resource management, and their relation to international arms control and security.

2000–2002 Program Director, The Great Silk Road Survey Project. Led the first U.S. team to systematically assess feasibility of regional multi-national, multi-disciplinary environmental research cooperation along oil pipeline transects through Turkey, the Republic of Georgia, and Azerbaijan. The effort was profiled on the Discovery Channel, in the New York Times, and on Azeri television, and seeded several follow-on projects.

1999–2002 Graduate Research Assistant, The Mesopotamian Alluvium Project. Principal Investigator: Robert McC. Adams. GIS project integrating documentary, archaeological, and environmental source data with archaeological site maps derived from aerial photography, satellite imagery, and digital elevation models to reconstruct archaic watersheds and land-use patterns. 1999 Graduate Research Assistant, Titriş Höyük Excavations, Şanliurfa Province, Turkey. Landscape of an Early Bronze Age City. Principal Investigator: Guillermo Algaze. Reconstruction of urban industrial growth and land use during a period of climatic flux.

1996–1998 Project Manager, Wired for Peace: Virtual Diplomacy in Northeast Asia. Developed multi-lingual, web-based systems to foster confidence-building communications among senior officials from Russia, China, North Korea, South Korea, and Japan.

1994–1997 Project Manager, Wired for Peace: Virtual Diplomacy in the Middle East. In cooperation with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, introduced internet technologies relevant to international environmental agreements and arms control monitoring to officials from Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, and other Arab states.

1989–1990 Member, United States Delegation to the Conference on Security Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), negotiations on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures (CSBM). Negotiated terms of conduct for exchanges of military information in the first-ever European Seminar on Military Doctrines.

1977 Undergraduate Research Assistant, Michigan State University Field School in Archaeology, Petriolo, Tuscany. Principal Investigator: Joel Chartkoff. One of the first projects to systematically reconstruct paleoenvironment as related to early human settlement and land use.

Selected Academic Awards

University College London - Qatar Visiting Research Fellow, 2013

University of Chicago Oriental Institute Post-Doctoral fellow (declined), 2003

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, 2000–2003

American School of Oriental Research Mesopotamian Fellow, 2001–2002

University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation Fellowship, 1998–2000

U.S. Army Foreign Area Officer Fellowship, 1987–1990