External Faculty Fellow
Henry T. Wright is Professor of Anthropology at the Department of Anthropology and Curator of Near Eastern Archaeology at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology. His earliest archaeological research was on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and in the Appalachians, recording the remains of prehistoric camp and village sites, and learning to view the past in regional and ecological perspectives. He came to the University of Michigan as an undergraduate, and worked for the Museum of Anthropology on prehistoric archeological sites in the Midwest and in France. At the University of Chicago, he was introduced to the ancient Near East, the planet's earliest civilization by Robert Adams. He researched Early Urban systems in southern Iraq for his Ph.D. dissertation and returned to Ann Arbor to join the staff at the Museum of Anthropology as it was being transformed from a program concerned largely with North America into an international program focused on comparative evolutionary studies of the early complex societies throughout the planet. He spent many years doing fieldwork in the mountains and lowlands of Southern Iran, studying the development of the first state administrations and urban economies between 4500 B.C.and 2500 B.C. The revolution in Iran stopped archaeological research. He then decided to commence a program on the development of the more recent –but poorly understood-- civilization on Madagascar. With the help of archaeologists from Madagascar, France, Sweden and the U.S. and of many enthusiastic Malagasy students, he pursued a program of archaeological exploration and research all over this fascinating mini-continent and on the nearby Comoro Islands. Throughout this time he has been a Research Associate of the Musee d'Art et d'Archeologie in Antananarivo. Much of this work has been done with paleoecologists trying to understand changes in Madagascar's unusual ecosystems. The theoretical constructs we have built in Madagascar help us to understand the earliest civilizations that arose millennia earlier in places like Mesopotamia and Mesoamerica. Wright continues research today on Early Mesopotamia, in Turkey and Syria. He is affiliated with the Santa Fe Institute for the study of complex systems.