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Ciprian Ardelean

Ciprian Ardelean

PhD student, Archaeology, University of Exeter, from October 2009

Supervisors: Dr. Bruce Bradley, Dr. José Iriarte

Department of Archaeology
4th floor, Room 41
Laver Building
North Park Road
Exeter EX4 4QE

MA in Archaeology (2001, ENAH – Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mexico-City, Mexico)

BA in Ancient History and Archaeology (1998, Faculty of History and Philosophy, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania)

Ciprian Ardelean was born in 1976 in Romania, in Arad county, Western Transylvania. His interest for archaeology was cultivated at early age by his father, a professor of history and geography, and kept alive by frequent journeys across the Western Carpathian Mountains. After finishing high-school in 1994, he started his undergraduate studies in ancient history and archaeology at the Babes-Bolyai University in the city of Cluj-Napoca, the cultural capital of Transylvania. He graduated in 1998. During his undergraduate studies he was involved in large field campaigns especially in the Roman provincial capital of Dacia, Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa (1995-1998), as well as in other three archaeological sites: Taga (Bistrita Nasaud county, Romania), Apulum (Alba county, Romania) and Petronell-Carnuntum (Niederoesterreich, Austria). In 1998 he enjoyed a brief academic resideeship at the National Academy of Sciences in Budapest, Hungary.

By the fall of the same year Ciprian travelled to Berlin, Germany, where he stayed for five months as an Erasmus-Socrates student, enrolled at the Humboldt University, but spending his time mostly in the enormous library of the Ibero-Amerikanische Institut where he prepared himself for the imminent journey to Latin America.

In March 1999 the Federal Government of Mexico granted him a two-year full studentship to follow the studies of Master in Archaeology at the prestigious Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia in Mexico-City. From 1999 to 2001, as a MA student, he focused on Mayan archaeology and epigraphy, as well as on archaeological theory and epistemology. He was involved in extensive surveys and diggings in southern Yucatan Peninsula, mainly in the Becan Archaeological Project and the Pozas de Ventura –Salto Grande Archaeological Project, an opportunity to specialize himself in tropical wetland archaeology. The last one of these to project opened his interest for the Candelaria River basin, of the most mysterious and poorly known areas in the Maya region, major watercourse that connected the inner Peten Lowlands with the Gulf of Mexico on the southwestern coast of the Peninsula.

He fulfilled his MA in 2001 and submitted a dissertation called “Ser Social y Espacio Social en Arqueología” (Social Entity and Social Space in Archaeology), an analysis of a theoretical model about how archaeological epistemology might reflect the dialectic relationship between social space and social processes.

Later that year, the Anthropology Department at the University of Zacatecas, the most important academic institution in central-northern Mexico, offered him a permanent job as associate lecturer and full-time researcher. From 2001 to this date he holds that position at the University of Zacatecas where he teaches a variety of classes and seminars for the Archaeology Undergraduate Programme, as for example Archaeological Theory 1 and 2, The Archaeology of Near East and Far East, The Theory of Complex Societies, Research Design Seminar, etc.

In 2003 he started a new archaeological project on the middle course of the Candelaria River in southwestern Yucatan Peninsula, a region of swamps and tropical jungle surviving like intact ecosystem niches in the middle of man-made cattle-raising savannas. It was called “The El Chechén Archaeological Project”; chechen (meaning “tree or wood on the edge of the water” in Mayan language) is the name of an important local tree variety (metopium brownei and sebastiana longicuspis) that marks the local toponimy. The El Chechen region ha remained unstudied by the archaeologists during the twentieth century and largely ignored by Mexican and foreign explorers during the golden times of Mayan adventures. After five field seasons of intensive surveys, GPS and topographic mapping and excavations, the project yielded five new Mayan settlements that put us in front of new and challenging questions and hypothesis about the so-called “collapse” of the Late Classic Mayan civilization. The project ended in 2008 and several publications are already available, while the final report will be published soon.

Ciprian is both Romanian and Mexican citizen.

Spatial, Chronological and Cultural Frames Concerning the Archaeology of Hunters-Gatherers during the Early Lithic Stage: A Reassessment of the Pleistocene Human Occupation on Central-Northern Mexico.

This is the title of Ciprian’s PhD research proposal, a radical shift from his previous Maya interest. This research aims to reconsidering the actual knowledge about the earliest prehistoric occupation on the central-northern region of Mexico; that means the northernmost quarter of the country, closer to the US border, so not overlapping the better-known region of Central Mexico Valley region where specific projects on the issue are more abundant. If the present state of knowledge involves several early findings on both the eastern and western coasts on the northern band, this project will emphasize the central portions of the region, specially the so-called Northern Highlands, an almost unknown archaeological area, where rich grasslands must have attracted large herbivores during Late Pleistocene epoch. Abundant paleontological findings of large mammals suggest a potential dense human occupation from times much earlier than the traditionally accepted Clovis dates.

This research has three methodological pathways:

  1. an exhaustive bibliographical analysis of the existing data as reflected in publications or unedited field reports;
  2. a selective study of early “Lithic stage” archaeological materials stored in official INAH collections and/or private collections in a few northern Mexican states;
  3. fieldwork involving the detailed surface survey of a large area around the Transversal Mountains in northern Zacatecas and, if applicable, the excavation of two rockshelter and open-air sites in order to identify early archaeological materials and stratigraphic/chronological correlations.

Ciprian's Publications

2000-2001 “Por una nueva proxémica antropológica”, in Boletín de Antropología Americana, no. 37, pp. 7-33, Mexico City.

2003 “Una propuesta teórica de análisis del espacio social”, in Boletín de Antropología Americana, no. 39, pp. 7-39, Mexico City.

2004 “Factores causales del patrón de asentamiento en arqueología”, in Boletín de Antropología Americana, no. 40, pp. 99-138, Mexico City.

2005 “Proyecto Arqueológico El Chechén, Candelaria, Campeche: resultados de la primera temporada”, in Memorias del XIV Encuentro Internacional Los Investigadores de la Cultura Maya 2004, Vol.13, Tome 1, Chapter 10, pp. 121-156, Universidad Autónoma de Campeche, Campeche, Mexico.

2006 “De El Chechén a Kimilná: patrones de asentamiento y funerarios en la cuenca media del Río Candelaria, Campeche”, in Memorias del XV Encuentro Internacional Los Investigadores de la Cultura Maya 2005, vol. 14, tome 1, Chapter 6, pp. 57-73, Universidad Autónoma de Campeche, Campeche, Mexico.

2008a “Before the End of the World: archaeological investigations about Maya Terminal Classic processes on the Middle Candelaria River, Campeche, Mexico”, in Studii de Preistorie, no. 5/2008, pp. 171-205, scientific review of the Romanian Archaeological Association, editorial Renaissance, Bucharest, Romania.

2008b “The Grammar of Social Space: An anthropological approach to human proxemics”, in Dacia. Journal of Archaeology and Ancient History, núm. 52, pp. 201-222, Vasile Parvan Archaeological Institute of the Romanian Academy of Science, Bucharest, Romania.

2009a “Causality and internal dynamics in the constitution of archaeological settlement patterns”, in Dacia. Journal of Archaeology and Ancient History, núm. 53, Vasile Parvan Archaeological Institute of the Romanian Academy of Science, Bucharest, Romania

2009b “Investigaciones recientes en la arqueología de la cuenca media del Río Candelaria, Campeche: un acercamiento al “Colapso”, in Memorias del XXII Simposio Internacional de Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Guatemala, Guatemala City, Guatemala. GAMBOA Cabezas, Luis Manuel; Raúl González Quezada y Ciprian Florin Ardelean

2000 “New Archaeological Research Project: Candelaria, Campeche, México. Pozas de Ventura and Salto Grande”; in Pre-Columbian Art Research Institute Newsletter, No. 31, Spring, San Francisco, pp. 10-14.

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