Daniel Habtemichael


email: daniel@anthro.umass.edu

Machmer E14

By appt.



archaeological investigation of economic, cultural and political interactions in East Africa, Red Sea, Mediterranean and Indian Ocean worlds; the emergence and maintenance of social complexity, urbanism and states; military technology of ancient world; agency informed approaches to modeling exchange and urbanism using GIS-based spatial modeling/simulation of urban forms and social landscapes



Degrees Earned

B.A., Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Asmara, 2001

M.A., Department of Anthropology, University of Florida, Gainesville, 2003



Michael Sugerman


Biography and Research Interests

Daniel Habtemichael is a doctoral candidate at Umass-Amherst Anthropology Department. He started his academic journey as an archaeology student in highlands of Asmara, Eritrea; where due to an immense need for archeologists and lack of them made the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Asmara involve students in actual archaeological research. The Highlands of Asmara, which was threatened due to development projects, was defined as a province of ancient Axum based on selective texts. As the archeological data from 300 square km accumulated through surveys and excavations, the definition of Axum as a core and the highlands of Asmara as province proved to be patchy and incoherent. The settlements at the Highlands of Asmara predated by 1000 years than Axum with long distance relationship that reached as far as Asia. Without clear theoretical formulations of what to expect from the material culture in the Highlands of Asmara, the archaeological practice settled in data driven new reformulation of the region’s past. In return problematization of the center/province of the region was needed. The classifications of the region into center/province unsupported by material evidence adversely limited the interpretative power of the archeological record. In his Masters thesis, Habtemichael surveyed 6 square kilometers at Keskese Valley. Keskese Valley is located between Asmara Highlands and Axum. According to the Axum-centric theoretical explanation, Keskese Valley belongs to the pre-Axumite period dominated by Middle Eastern immigrants that settled at Keskese Valley at about middle of the first millennium. These immigrants are believed to bring with them agriculture, script and governance. After intermarriage with the locals, the Middle Eastern immigrants gave rise to Axum. Thus, an exogenous impetus for the rise of Axum, and the surrounding regions as provinces was formulated. Habtemichael's research question at Keskese Valley was whether the archaeological evidence supports this immigration claim for the rise of complex society in the region. He documented eight sites and analyzed artifacts and conducted lab analysis. The research has demonstrated the archaeological record does not support the immigration impetus for social complexity. The material culture of Keskese Valley displayed a closer affinity to archeological sites in the region than any Middle Eastern sites. Moreover, it was shown that the region is one of the eight centers of food domestication, which domesticated Teff and Finger Millet in the fourth millennium or earlier, and coffee at a later stage that are unique to the region as evidenced by the archeological record. There is no need to attribute the rise of complex society to exogenous impetus when food domestication, writing culture and governance in the region can be demonstrated through the archaeological evidence as local developments. The finding of this research was published in peer-reviewed journal, Journal of Eritrean Studies in 2004. In his Dissertation research, Habtemichael is seeking to contribute to a deeper understanding of the political economy of Red Sea by investigating ancient port of Adulis, located on the western shores of Red Sea, in Eritrea. The dissertation research employs archeological, ethnohistoric, textual and experimental data to model the local political economy of Adulis within a broader context of Northern Horn of Africa and the Red Sea political economy.




2007 David Peacock, Lucy Blue, Darren Glazier, Julian Whitewright, Jillian Phillips, Penny Coperland, Yohannes Gebreyesus, Daniel Habtemichael and Rezene Russom, ed., The Ancient Red Sea Port of Adulis, Eritrea: Results of the Eritro-British Expedition, 2004-5. Oxford, UK: Oxbow Books.

2004 Daniel Habtemichael, Yohannes Gebreyesus, David Peacock, and Lucy Blue ed., Eritro-British Project at Adulis. Volume I. Asmara-Southampton: University of Asmara/ University of Southampton Press.

Book Chapters

2008 Peter Schmidt, Daniel Habtemichael, and Matthew Curtis, Ancient Gold Mining North of Asmara: A Focus on Hara Hot. In The Archaeology of Ancient Eritrea. Peter Schmidt, Matthew Curtis and Zelalem Teka, eds. Trenton, NJ and Asmara, Eritrea: Red Sea Press, Inc.,(p.178-187)

2008 Matthew Curtis and Daniel Habtemichael., Matara, Keskese, and the Classical Period: Archaeology of the Akele Guzay Highlands, A Brief Overview. In The Archaeology of Ancient Eritrea. Peter Schmidt, Matthew Curtis and Zelalem Teka, eds. Trenton, NJ and Asmara, Eritrea: Red Sea Press, Inc.,(p.311-327)

2008 Lucy Blue, Yohannes Gebreyesus, Daren Glazier, Daniel Habtemichael, David Peacock, and Rezene Russom., Assessing Ancient Adulis: Recent Investigations of the Ancient Red Sea Port. In The Archaeology of Ancient Eritrea. Peter Schmidt et al. ed. Trenton, NJ and Asmara, Eritrea: The Red Sea Press, Inc.,(p.301-309)

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

2004 Daniel Habtemichael, and Zeriesnay Habtezion., Collection Study at the National Museum of Eritrea. Journal of Eritrean Studies, 3(3):63-77.

2004 The Sabean Man’s Burden: Questioning the Dominant Historical Paradigm with New Archaeological Findings at Keskese Valley. Journal of Eritrean Studies, 3(2): 25-52.

Book Review

2007 Review of The Nubian Past: An Archaeology of the Sudan, by David N. Edwards. African Studies Review, 50(2): 225-226.