Skip to main content
Ralf Vandam

Ralf Vandam

Professor and postdoctoral researcher, ACADEMIC STAFF


Ralf Vandam is landscape archaeologist with more than 10 years of research experience in Eastern Mediterranean archaeology. His research has concentrated on ancient human-environmental interactions, spatial analysis in archaeology, early production-exchange systems and the emergence of complex societies within the Eastern Mediterranean and Anatolia, to be more specific.

He completed his PhD research (KU Leuven) on the archaeological landscape of the Burdur Plain, SW Turkey in 2014. For this he co-supervised several intensive archaeological surveys of the Sagalassos Project in the vicinity of ancient Hacılar and collaborated with different scholars to reconstruct settlement preferences, resource exploitation strategies and interaction networks through GIS-based spatial and statistical analyses, as well as provenance analyses (i.e. petrology and P-XRF) of the newly collected data.

In the two years thereafter, he was granted a Belgian American Educational Foundation fellowship to work at the Institute of European and Mediterranean Archaeology of SUNY, University at Buffalo, USA, (2014-2015) and a senior fellowship at the Research Centre for Anatolian Civilizations of Koç University, Turkey (2015–2016). During that time he focused on the poorly understood Late Chalcolithic-Early Bronze Age transition in Western Anatolia in relation to early complexity with new provenance analyses.

In 2016 he received a postdoctoral fellowship of the Research Foundation- Flanders (FWO) to conduct research at the KU Leuven on marginal landscapes with new archaeological surveys in the Dereköy highlands of the Burdur Province, Turkey. The main of this project is to reconstruct diachronic human-environment interactions in neglected mountainous landscapes and to contrast these outcomes with the developments in the lowlands.

Since 2019 he has also served as a part-time lecturer in Archaeology in the Department of Art Studies and Archaeology at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Within this framework he is setting up a survey project in the SE Cyrpus to shed light on the long-term human and environmental histories in the hinterland of Hala Sultan Tekke.

Ralf Vandam is affiliated to the MARI project (VUB) and the Sagalassos project (KU Leuven).

Five key publications:

Vandam, R., Kaptijn, E., Willett P.T., Poblome, J. (forthcoming) Highlands and lowlands: different landscapes, different archaeologies? A diachronic case-study from the Taurus Mountains (SW Turkey). In: A. Garcia (ed.) Archaeology of Mountain Landscapes. SUNY Press, Albany, NY.

Vandam, R. (ed.) (2019). Special issue: On the margins? Thinking through marginality in the Holocene Mediterranean. Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies 7 (4).

Vandam, R., Kaptijn E., Broothaerts, N., De Cupere, B., Marinova, E., Van Loo, M., Verstraeten, G., Poblome J. (2019) “Marginal” Landscapes: Human Activity, Vulnerability, and Resilience in the Western Taurus Mountains (Southwest Turkey), Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies 7 (4): 432-450.

Vandam, R., Mušič B., Medarič I. (2019) Contextualizing Kuruçay Höyük: Assessing the unexplored Late Chalcolithic Landscape near the beginning of early social complexity in SW Turkey. Journal of Field Archaeology 44, 1-19.

Vandam, R., Kaptijn, E., Vanschoenwinkel, B. (2013) Disentangling the spatio-environmental drivers of human settlement, Plos One 8, 1-11.