The Netherlands Institute for the Near East

Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten  -  Institut néerlandais du Proche-Orient

Lucy Bennison-Chapman studied Near Eastern Archaeology at the University of Liverpool. She received her PhD in July 2015. She is the first NINO Postdoctoral Research fellow, based at Leiden University with a project investigating the use and function of non-literate administration systems and recording devices in the Near East from the late Neolithic into the 1st millennium BC.

Research interests

Near Eastern Archaeology: Anatolia, Mesopotamia and the Levant; Early farming communities, the Neolithic; Administration systems, Early writing; Material culture; Symbolism; Non-literate recording systems; Early Historic Mesopotamia; Craft specialisation.

Recent and ongoing research projects

NINO (Sep 2019-ongoing): The origins and development of non-written administrative technologies in the ancient Near East

An investigation into the functioning of non-written information storage and related administrative technologies in the Near East from the late Neolithic period (c. 6,000 BC) into the 1st millennium BC. This project aims to trace the development, use and role of tokens, alongside sealings, seals, bullae and written texts from the first attested use of tokens as administrative tools c. 6,000 BC into the Early Historic period.

Boncuklu Höyük, Konya Province, Turkey (2006-ongoing). Directed by Prof. D. Baird, University of Liverpool (UK)

Çatalhöyük Research Project, Konya Province, Turkey (2010-2019). Directed by Prof. I. Hodder, Stanford University (USA)

Tell Sabi Abyad Project, north Syria (2009-2010). Directed by P.M.M.G. Akkermans, Leiden University

Kadhima Project, Kuwait (2009-2010). Directed by Dr. D. Kennett, University of Durham


Thesis: The Role and Function of “Tokens” and Sealing Practices in the Neolithic of the Near East: The question of early recording systems, symbolic storage, precursors to writing, gaming, or monitoring devices in the world’s first villages.

Dissertation: To What Extent Might Identity be represented in the Mortuary Practices of Third Millennium BC Upper Euphrates Sites? A study of burial practices in the Early Bronze Age.

Dissertation: A Study of the Function, Form and Symbolism of Early Bronze Age Female Figurines from Anatolia and North Syria.

Academic positions

Select publications

Schotsmans, E., Busacca, G., Bennison-Chapman, L., Lingle, L., Milella, M., Tibbetts, B., Tsoraki, C., Vasić, M. & Veropoulidou, R., 2020, “Pigment Use at Neolithic Çatalhöyük”. Near Eastern Archaeology, vol. 83.3 (Twenty-Five Years of Research at Çatalhöyük Part Two), pp. 156-167.

Mickel, A., Filipowicz, P. & Bennison-Chapman, L., 2020, “Ethnography, Engagement, Evaluations, and Endings: The Achievements and Limitations of Community Outreach at Çatalhöyük”. Near Eastern Archaeology, vol. 83.3 (Twenty-Five Years of Research at Çatalhöyük Part Two), pp. 182-190.

Bennison-Chapman, L.E. 2020, “Conscious ‘Tokens’?” in: Consciousness, Creativity, and Self at the Dawn of Settled Life, ed. I. Hodder, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 107-132.

Bennison-Chapman, L.E. 2019, “Clay objects as ‘tokens’? Evidence for early counting and administration at Late Neolithic Tell Sabi Abyad, Mesopotamia”. Levant, vol. 50.3, pp. 305-337.

Bennison-Chapman, L.E. 2019, “Reconsidering ‘Tokens’: The Neolithic Origins of Accounting or Multifunctional, Utilitarian Tools?” Cambridge Archaeological Journal, vol. 29.2, pp. 233-259.

Bennison-Chapman, L.E. & Hager, L.D. 2018, “Tracking the Division of Labour through Handprints: Applying Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) to clay ‘tokens’ in Neolithic West Asia”. Journal of Archaeological Science, 99, pp. 112-123.

Further information