Marcella Frangipane

University of Rome

Election Year: 2013
Primary Section: 51, Anthropology
Membership Type: International Member


Marcella Frangipane is Full Professor of Prehistory and Protohistory of the Near and Middle East in the Department of Antiquities at the Sapienza University of Rome. She also teaches at the Doctoral School in Archaeology (Prehistory) and the High School of Specialisation in Archaeology in the same University. Her principal field of research is the study of the early formation of unequal and hierarchical societies in the Near East, and in Mesopotamia and Anatolia in particular. She is well known for her long-term project in the mound of Arslantepe-Malatya (Eastern Turkey), which, under her direction, has shed new light on the emergence of power and the origin of the State and bureaucracy. She was born in Palermo, Sicily, in 1948, and grew up partly in Palermo and partly in Rome, where she graduated at the University cum laude. She has been educated at the Paleoethnology school of Salvatore Puglisi and Alba Palmieri, and embraced their rigorous excavation methodology and anthropological plus historical approach. A three years scholarship in Mexico at the beginning of her career put her in contact with stimulating innovative trends in Anthropology. Frangipane has been the director of the School of Specialization in Oriental Archaeology in Rome from 2000 to 2003. She has been conferred a Honorary PhD by the University of Malatya and a title of 'Cavaliere' for scientific merits by the President of the Italian Republic. She is also Corresponding Member of the Deutsches Archaeologisches Institut in Berlin.

Research Interests

One of the main focuses of Marcella Frangipane research activity has been the study of the characteristics and paths of the emergence of the first centralised societies, and the origin and nature of power, in a primary context, such as the northern regions of "Greater Mesopotamia". Frangipane has leaded, in this area, two field projects in two tells along the Upper and Middle Euphrates valley: Arslantepe and Zeytinli Bahçe. Her approach was to base the investigation of primary phenomena on looking for primary data from the actual archaeological contexts to be analysed, trying to investigate specific historical trajectories through pure archaeological research and building on them new explanatory models and theories. Frangipane and her team have in this perspective dedicated many efforts to develop a rigorous strategy of field research, redefining excavation and documentation methods to precisely contextualize information and, by thoroughly analysing it in an interdisciplinary and combinatory way, arrive to propose original explanation models for the social and historical phenomena under study. The excavations at Arslantepe constitute the clearest example of the application of this approach. One of the most outstanding results was the detailed reconstruction of a very early and sophisticated administrative system before writing. Frangipane has recently extended her interest in the rise of hierarchies and inequality to the very origins of the phenomena in the 6th and 5th millennia BC.

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