Matthew Leigh Murray

Position title: Honorary Fellow (2023-2024)

Instructional Professor of Anthropology, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Mississippi

This is a professional portrait photograph of a man with short hair against a blue studio background.

Archaeological Landscapes of Central Europe

I am an archaeologist and my research focuses on the later prehistory (Early Neolithic to Late Iron Age, 6th to 1st millennium BC) of Central Europe. I recently completed work on a monograph about the excavation of two intact Early Iron Age (700 to 400 BC) burial monuments in southwestern Germany as part of the “Landscape of Ancestors” project. I now plan to return to another long-term archaeological field project, the “Lower Bavaria Survey,” which is a regional study in central Bavaria in southeastern Germany. This project examines 6000 years of human life from the first farming communities to Roman conquest. It integrates archival research on known archaeological sites, including aerial photography and other remote detection technologies conducted by Bavarian cultural heritage managers, with manual examination of the ground surface through the systematic walking of agricultural fields to discover and document surface assemblages of artifacts. The deep (pre)historical perspective on human actions and experiences in the project area allows me and my German colleagues to investigate the way that communities interacted across the landscape through time, and how they manipulated their surroundings to generate particular kinds of social experiences. I am particularly interested in the way that older landscape elements were integrated into new social settings. In this research, I developed a phenomenological landscape approach to regional investigations that emphasize places of cultural performance and social discourse. As an Honorary Fellow, I intend to work on two articles about the landscape project. The first article addresses fieldwork design and methodological problems involved in the detection of archaeological artifacts, features, and sites on an eroded rural agrarian landscape. The second article is interpretive, summarizing human engagement with the project landscape during 6000 years of continuous occupation.

Matthew Leigh Murray is Instructional Professor of Anthropology, Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Mississippi. As an undergraduate, he was trained in Anthropology and Prehistory at the University of Connecticut and the Universität Salzburg in Austria. He was awarded a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Harvard University in 1995. He joined the anthropology faculty at the University of Mississippi in January 2003. His primary research interest is the investigation and interpretation of later prehistoric landscapes in Central Europe from the early Neolithic to the later Iron Age. He explores early Iron Age mortuary places through excavation and landscape archaeology and he uses archaeological reconnaissance and survey to examine Neolithic social development and settlement practices and the lives of ancient peoples of the Bronze and Iron ages. He has also practiced applied archaeology and cultural resource management in the United States, where he directed numerous archaeological field projects focused on resource identification, evaluation, and data recovery. He has two main field research programs in Europe—“Landscape of Ancestors” and the “Lower Bavaria Survey”—as well as a number of other projects.