Reed Goodman

Visiting Assistant Professor 2023-25

Reed Goodman is a geoarchaeologist and Visiting Assistant Professor at NYU's Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. He is also the Assistant Director of the Lagash Archaeological Project, a multinational collaboration involving excavation and survey at the ancient Mesopotamian city of Lagash, Tell al-Hiba, located in Iraq's Dhi Qar Governate. By combining the study of more traditional archaeological datasets with the analysis of sedimentary deposits from supply-dominated continental margins, such as deltas, Reed's research reconstructs human-climate-landscape interactions to evaluate the impact of environmental changes on past communities.

He received his Ph.D. (2023) from the University of Pennsylvania in the Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World, his M.A. (2018) in Anthropology from The Pennsylvania State University, as well as an M.A. (2011) in Classical History from Columbia University. His doctoral research involved the collection and analysis of sediment records from multiple sites in southern Iraq, including Lagash and Ur. Working with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO), he generated palaeoenvironmental proxies through various techniques, including XRF scanning high-resolution chemostratigraphy and Ramped PyrOx (RPO), a uniquely suited thermal fractionation method to study carbon isotopes in sediment. Notably, Reed's doctoral work captured a complete deltaic sequence of the palaeo Tigris River, allowing him to compare developmental trends between Sumer's eastern and western floodplain and to characterize/date Middle Holocene marine transgression/regression into the area. As a result, he was able to argue that tidal dynamics—not fluvial or paludal—were critical to early experiments with agriculture in Mesopotamia and that their diminishment—and final disappearance—were similarly pivotal for the rise of cities and states.

At ISAW, Reed will expand his geoarchaeological investigations farther south in Iraq and into Kuwait to better constrain the timing of sea level rise and fall in the Persian Gulf and model its effects on littoral communities throughout the region. He will also examine Early Dynastic neighborhoods at Lagash using soil micromorphology and related approaches to explore the changing nature of activity areas in one of Southwest Asia's earliest cities.