Dr Laerke Recht is an archaeologist working on the Near East, Cyprus, and the Aegean. Laerke is particularly interested in exploring the themes of interaction between the cultures of the eastern Mediterranean in the past, and our modern interpretations of these.

Her current project is called The Spirited Horse: Human-equid relations in the Bronze Age Near East. It examines the role of horses, donkeys, onagers, and hybrids over two millennia (c. 3200-1200 BCE). Laerke has explored the pivotal transformations in human history over the period. Domesticated equids appear in the beginning of the period, signalling a change in daily interactions and care for equids. Donkeys facilitated transport of heavier goods over longer distances on land, which meant intensification and extension of connections between regions, and would have been particularly important for the copper/bronze industry. In the Late Bronze Age, horses and the new fast, light chariot had a significant impact on warfare.

Equids are just one of many animals permeating the ancient Near East. To get a broader spectrum of the many ways in which humans and animals intersect, Laerke is organising a conference on 22-23 March 2019 at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge. Fierce lions, angry mice and fat-tailed sheep: Animal encounters in the ancient Near East will feature 33 presentations and 70 participants, with delegates from Europe, Asia, Australia and United States (invited speakers will stay at Sidney Sussex). 

Laerke has worked in Cyprus since 2011, and has spent the last five years excavating at Hala Sultan Tekke, one of the largest settlement on the island, with strong trading connections to both the Aegean and the Near East. Her work there includes study of the imported Aegean pottery, metal production, and the use of horses and donkeys at the site. Most recently, her long-term fascination with religious practices has resulted in the publication of a monograph on the archaeology of human sacrifice in Egypt, the Near East, China, Northern Europe and Mesoamerica.

Dr. Laerke Recht is a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellow at The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. She has been a CRA at Sidney Sussex since October 2017. You can read more about the upcoming events Laerke will be involved in, and a full list of her publications, on her website

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