Publications: Monographs and Edited Volumes

Incidental Archaeologists: French Officers and the Rediscovery of Roman North Africa (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, in press).

In the course of the French invasion and subsequent “pacification” of the region that became Algeria, the armée d’Afrique confiscated homes, land, and mosques from the indigenous population and massacred tribes that resisted French domination. Along with the normalization of violence against civilian inhabitants, classical monuments fared badly, being reused as fortifications or destroyed as materiel for building French barracks, roads, and hospitals. This project examines the contributions of nineteenth-century officers, who, raised on classical accounts of warfare and often trained as cartographers, developed interest in the Roman remains they encountered throughout Algeria. Linking archaeological studies of the Roman past to French narratives of the Algerian occupation, the monograph examines how Roman archaeology helped foster a new identity for military and civilian settlers and examines the close entanglement of classical studies with politics in colonial and metropolitan France.

Unmasking Ideology in Imperial and Colonial Archaeology: Vocabulary, Symbols and Legacy, co-edited with Guolong Lai (Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press, 2018).

This collection is the fruit of an international workshop held at the University of Florida from 8-11 January 2015 with support of the ACLS/Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange Comparative Perspectives on Chinese Culture and Society Program and the Rothman Endowment of the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere. The essays it contains by sixteen archaeologists, art historians, and historians, assess the impact of imperialism and colonialism on the practice of archaeology in locations around the world during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. For more on the volume, see this recent blog post.

Uncovering the Germanic Past: Merovingian Archaeology in France 1830-1914, History of Archaeology Series (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).

This monograph charts the establishment of national archaeology, and more specifically Merovingian archaeology, as a discipline in nineteenth-century France. This work explores various aspects of these developments, including the relationship between antiquarianism and professionalized archaeology, the impact of the burgeoning antiquities trade on the excavation of field sites, tension between center and periphery in French learned societies, the role of museums in building regional and national identity, and the effect of discoveries of alleged Germanic graves across France on the writing of French history and artistic depiction of the past in the late nineteenth century. This interdisciplinary exploration of French medievalism is crucial to an understanding and academic use of the early medieval artifacts that now populate art and archaeological museums in Europe as well as the United States.

Merovingian Mortuary Archaeology and the Making of the Early Middle Ages, Transformation of the Classical Heritage 35 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003).
Chapter 3: "Grave Goods and the Ritual Expression of Identity," reprinted in Thomas F. X. Noble, ed. From Roman Provinces to Medieval Kingdoms (London: Routledge, 2006), pp. 189-232.


This work identifies the ways in which for the past two centuries, scholars' interpretations of early medieval archaeological evidence from Gaul have typically reflected the biases and ideologies of their own time. Following a long introduction suggesting the direction of some of the trends that affected studies from the seventeenth century onward, the heart of the book applies this critique to modern studies of early medieval artifacts and the significance of the archaeological evidence for changing funerary expressions of social status and religious belief in late seventh-century Gaul. The monograph draws attention to the regular misuse of the material evidence in modern assessments of sex, gender, and ethnicity in discussion of Merovingian-period cemeteries.

Creating Community with Food and Drink in Merovingian Gaul, "The New Middle Ages" (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002).

Focusing on the theme of the ritual uses of nourishment in the early Middle Ages, the five essays that make up this book use written and archaeological evidence for food and drink customs in Merovingian Gaul to challenge a number of standard assumptions about the period. In addition to a discussion of ascetic nuns’ sponsorship of convivia or feasts as a form of patronage (which upends the assertion that women absent from the political hierarchy were unable to exert power and authority ove rtheir contemporaries), the monograph also sheds light on bishops' and monks' expression of masculinity through the exchange of food and drink, feasting and its role in mortuary ritual, purity and danger in early medieval food vessels, and the significance of a rare early medieval treatise advocating the health benefits of a restricted diet.

Caring for Body and Soul: Burial and the Afterlife in the Merovingian World (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002); paperback edition, 2009.

This book assesses the broad range of extant early medieval written sources to critique the understanding that the end of the custom of deposing goods such as jewelry and weaponry in graves in the late seventh century resulted from a process of the "spiritualization" of Christianity or assimilation to a more Roman tradition of burial. Instead, it suggests that changes in mortuary ritual in the seventh and eighth centuries stemmed from the early medieval clergy’s steady appropriation and thus transformation of the once familial responsibility of the burial of the deceased. The fictive representation of the dead through mortuary ritual came to rely more heavily on the recitation of Masses than the display of grave goods.