Purdue anthropology professor looking to make connections to old societies


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – A Purdue anthropologist is spending time in a foreign land researching societies that once thrived more than 3,000 years ago and comparing those to today.

Ian Lindsay, anthropologist and Purdue professor, has been focused on the layout of Armenia for reasons most would not expect.

“Our big kind of question: Is how did higher level political formations develop? People are always wondering — how do politicians form coalitions, how do they develop a following, how do they get leaders to do what they want them to do?” Lindsay asked. “And we are asking similar questions in the ancient past.”

He believes the structures and fortresses built in the hills of Armenia can bring answers to why people follow certain leaders.

“The big sort of manifestation of complexity are these hilltop fortresses where giant stones were used to build hilltop fortifications,” said Lindsay. “These things don’t build themselves. Leaders need to convince people to build them for them, hundreds of them.”

Lindsay recently returned from another trip, but this time he was armed with some extra tools. Thanks to a $220,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, Lindsay and his team were able to use drones and other surveying tools to give them an advantage out in the field.

“Four or five of us in a survey team are walking in a straight line back and forth looking for all sorts of sites, settlements, cemeteries, fortresses,” he said.

For Lindsay and his team, success isn’t measured by specific results.

“I think with any science, if you do it right, anyway. The more you know, the more you realize how much you still need to study,” Lindsay said. “We will know that we succeeded if we generate some interest in the region.”

Lindsay is set to return to Armenia early next year. If you would like to follow his team’s work, you may do so on his website.

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