John (Mac) Marston, Assistant Professor


My research focuses on understanding how people interact with landscapes, past and present, and how they make decisions about land use in the context of specific biological and social environments. I analyze archaeological remains in the context of historical and ethnographic records, ecological data, and behavioral theory to better understand the long-term role of environment in human decision-making processes.

At Boston University, I teach interdisciplinary courses that bridge environmental studies and archaeological science while conducting research into climate change adaptation, environmental change, and agricultural decision making in the eastern Mediterranean. My current fieldwork is funded by the American Philosophical Society.

My two major field projects are both located in Turkey. I direct the Kerkenes Ecology and Environmental Archaeology Project at the site of Kerkenes Dağ in central Turkey, where I pursue research at two scales: into the effects of ancient and contemporary land use on the natural vegetation and geomorphology of the region, on the large scale, and into differential use of plant resources between and within individual households, on the small scale. I am also managing director of environmental research at Kaymakçı, a new project to investigate a Middle-Late Bronze Age site in western Turkey, directed by Chris Roosevelt and Christina Luke of BU.

Another ongoing field project is at the ancient city of Gordion, where I lead an interdisciplinary group of scholars, including archaeologists, anthropologists, physical geographers, and historians, to reconstruct the history of coupled cultural and environmental change in the region over the past 5000 years in order to make recommendations about sustainable adaptation to climate change in the region over the next few hundred years. A new collaboration is with the Harvard University Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon, a major multi-period urban site in coastal Israel, where I will co-direct botanical research with Jade d'Alpoim Guedes of Harvard University.

My other active field projects include analysis of ancient wood use and woodland ecology in the Fayum of Egypt, with the UCLA/RUG Fayum Project, and in northern Turkey, at the Chalcolithic site of Çamlıbel Tarlası.

Please note this site is still under construction.

Archaeology, Environment, ecology

Research interests:

environmental archaeology, sustainability and resilience, risk management, environmental anthropology, Mediterranean and Near East, ecological and social theory, plant ecology, archaeological science, writing pedagogy

Contact information


Find me on:


Mailing address:

John M. Marston

Department of Archaeology

Boston University

675 Commonwealth Ave.

Boston, MA 02215