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Dr Kate Franklin

BA in Archaeological Studies, Yale University 2005, MPhil in Archaeology: Cultural Heritage and Museums, Cambridge, 2006, PhD in Anthropology, University of Chicago, 2014
Lecturer in Medieval History

Contact details

Department of History, Classics and Archaeology
Birkbeck, University of London
Room 212
27 Russell Square



  • I am an archaeologist of medieval Armenia and the Caucasus and an indiscriminate enthusiast of speculative fiction, cuisine, and vintage textiles. I have been working on collaborative projects in the Republic of Armenia for a decade, exploring the ways that local politics and Silk Road culture were tangled together in landscape and space-time. I was trained as an anthropologist at the University of Chicago, and I am curious about the experiences of medieval travel, intimacies of medieval embodiment, and the profound and mundane practices of medieval and early modern hospitality. I am field co-director of a project that combines thinking about routes and infrastructure, contemplating ‘domestic’ space, and appreciating the canyon landscapes of Vayots Dzor, Armenia. I received an MPhil degree specializing in Cultural Heritage and Museums from Cambridge, and for  three years I put that to work on a cultural heritage management project focused on the archaeology of Afghanistan, directing both GIS data-collection strategy and original research into the pasts of Afghanistan and Central Asia. For two years I lectured in Anthropology at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, looking at imagined worlds in recipes, table-settings, archaeological assemblages and science-fictions. My work at the moment is concerned with world-making as a locus of politics, with material culture as a mediator of spatio-temporal distances, and with the interpenetration of literary and ‘real’ landscapes in archaeological work

Research and teaching

  • Research interests
  • My research interests fluctuate, but a representative list includes:
  • Late medieval material culture, architecture, history, and travel accounts, focusing on East-West encounters and the greater Near East
  • Cosmopolitanism and the everyday: “world building,” material cosmology/cartography, landscape
  • The co-construction of subjects and spaces, the history of naturecultures and feminist approaches to space and landscape
  • Materiality, assemblage/assembling, critical posthumanisms
  • Food and place-making, cuisine and imagined community
  • Heritage politics and ethics, specifically connected to the Silk Road and cultural routes
  • The archaeological heritage landscape of Central Asia
  • Retrofuturism, nostalgia as political discourse, steampunk and dys/utopian science fiction, and speculative fiction/fabulation as a method and metaphor for writing histories in/of the anthropocene
  • Teaching
  • I am the MA Course Director for Medieval History for the 2019-2020 academic year. I am committed to centering on the global and interdisciplinary, interrogating the Middle Ages as a place in text, landscape, architecture, sense, and memory.
  • Modules I have taught:
  • Building the Middle Ages: Urbanism and Architecture (BA Level 5)
  • The Silk Road: Imagining Global Cultures in the Middle Ages (MA)
  • Modules I will be teaching on in the upcoming year:
  • The Medieval World: from Constantine to the Khans (BA Level 4)
  • Archaeology of the Everyday (BA Level 5)
  • Blood and Faith: Violence, Religion and Heresy in Medieval and early modern Europe (BA level 6)
  • Mastering Historical Research: Birkbeck Approaches (MA)
  • Imagined Landscapes of the Middle Ages (MA)
  • PhD supervision
  • I am happy and excited to supervise research topics in the material culture and history of the Global Medieval, as well as broader chronological periods in the Near East and Central Asia. I love thinking about trade and commerce, travel and displacement, memory, nostalgia, and spatial categories like monumental/domestic and everyday/ritual. Come talk to me about matter, space and time, about architecture, bodies, mobility and the work of writing history/archaeology


  • Books
  • Everyday Cosmopolitanisms: Living the Silk Road in the Medieval Caucasus (in revision)
  • Incomplete Archaeologies: Assembling knowledges in the past and present (2016, Oxbow) Editor, with E. Miller Bonney and J. Johnson.
  • Articles and chapters
  • (pdfs available here)
  • Franklin, K. and A. Babajanyan (under review). Layered landscapes of the Silk Road: social spaces in text, landscape and materiality from Vayots Dzor, Armenia. Quaternary International.
  • Franklin, K. (forthcoming 2019). Moving subjects, situated memory: thinking and seeing travel on the Silk Road. International Journal of Historical Archaeology.
  • Franklin, K. 2019. Making worlds at the edge of everywhere: politics of place in late medieval Armenia. In Eger, A. (ed.) Islamic Frontiers and Borders. University of Colorado Press. 195-225.
  • Franklin, K. and E. Boak. 2019. The road from above: Remotely sensed discovery of early modern travel infrastructure in Afghanistan. Archaeological Research in Asia 18: 40-54.
  • Babajanyan, Astghik and Kathryn Franklin. 2018. Everyday life on the medieval Silk road: VDSRS excavations at Arpa, Armenia. ‹‹Aramazd›› Armenian Journal of Near Eastern Studies. 12/1, 154-182.
  • Franklin, K. and Astghik Babajanyan 2018. The Power of Making Places: Collaborative Heritage and Working with ARISC in Armenia. Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology & Heritage Studies Vol. 6, No. 3. pp. 205-216
  • Franklin, K. and A. Babajanyan 2018. Approaching landscapes of infrastructure: methods and results of the Vayots Dzor Silk Road Survey. In W. Anderson, K. Hopper and A. Robinson (eds). Landscape archaeology in Southern Caucasia: Finding Common Ground in Diverse Environments. Proceedings of the Workshop held at the 10th ICAANE. Vienna: OREA.
  • Hammer, E., R. Seifried, K. Franklin and A. Lauricella 2018.  Remote assessments of the archaeological heritage situation in Afghanistan. Journal of Cultural Heritage 33: 125-144
  • Franklin, K., and E. Hammer 2018. Untangling palimpsest landscapes using remotely sensed techniques in Spin Boldak, Afghanistan. Journal of Field Archaeology 43.3.
  • Franklin, K., T. Vorderstrasse and F. Babayan 2017. Examining the late medieval village from the case at Ambroyi, Armenia. Journal of Near Eastern Studies 76: 113-138.
  • Franklin, K. 2016. Assembling subjects: Cosmopolitanism in late medieval Armenia. In E. Miller Bonney, K. Franklin, and J. Johnson (eds.) Incomplete Archaeologies: Assembling Knowledge in the Past and Present. Oxford: Oxbow.
  • Franklin, K. 2014. A House for Trade, a Space for Politics: Excavations at the Arai-Bazarjugh Caravanatun; Aragatsotn, Armenia.  Anatolica XL. 1-21.


Professional membership

  • Society for American Archaeology
  • American Anthropological Association
  • American Research Institute of the South Caucasus
  • American Schools of Oriental Research
  • European Archaeological Association
  • American Historical Association

Honours and awards

  • 2016 SSRC Transregional Research Junior Scholar Fellow: InterAsian Contexts and Connections
  • 2015 ARISC Collaborative Heritage Research in Armenia Grantee (with Astghik Babajanyan)
  • 2014 ARISC Junior Research Fellow
  • 2011 Wenner- Gren Dissertation Fieldwork Research Grantee

Current activities

  • I am currently revising a manuscript, Everyday Cosmopolitanisms, based on six years of survey, excavation and research centered on the Kasakh Valley of Armenia. In particular, this work looks at the entangled relationships between the grand narratives of the Silk Road and the multiple realms of epigraphic performance, monumental infrastructure, cuisine, and hospitable practice which co-constructed medieval people in complex scalar worlds of human and nonhuman agency.
  • For the last three years, I have been co-PI with Dr. Astghik Babajanyan (of the National Academy of Sciences, Republic of Armenia) of the Vayots Dzor Silk Road Survey. We are concerned with recording and investigating the spaces and landscapes of medieval southern Armenia at multiple scales, from excavations of hearths and floors at the town of Arpa to tracing connections between multiple canyons. Our long-term goal is constructing an understanding of this ‘Silk Road place’ that matches the complexity of life here in the Middle Ages, between the Mongols and the Mediterranean, mountain peaks and riverbanks.
  • I have also been involved for several years with multiple cultural heritage projects, most recently the Afghan Heritage Mapping Partnership at the University of Chicago. I continue to reflect on the complex interrelationships of archaeological research, heritage conservation and contemporary geopolitics.