Hundreds of staff, workers, and other affiliates have made the Umm el-Jimal Project possible over the past four decades. Their dedication continues to ensure the project's vitality. The following forms a catalogue of professional information for key current personnel. (See Field Seasons for the project's complete historical record of members by year.) Contact information has only been included for personnel who prefer to make this data publicly available; general inquiries can be made via the Contact Us page. Affiliate information is also available, on the Our Partners page.
Staff are organized alphabetically by first name. For each project member below, roll over the link buttons to view a brief professional biography.
Bert de Vries, PhD, is a professor of history and director of the Archaeology program at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has directed the Umm el-Jimal Project since its inception in 1972. Specializing as an archaeological architect, in addition to Umm el-Jimal de Vries' current research includes agricultural ecology of the Palestinian highlands. A main motive for his work is the question of how local people live, adapt, and find security in the face of external forces such as empire and environment. Other recent academic projects include Global Moments in the Levant, the Lower Jordan River Basin Project, and Enabling Local Voices.
Dia’a Mazari is a freelance researcher and translator with both a BA and MA in classical archaeology from Yarmouk University. She has worked as an instructor for Yarmouk's archaeological field schools at Umm Qays, Tell al Husn, and Bersenia, as well as for archaeological projects by the Department of Antiquities of Jordan at Beitras, Umm Qays, and Qweilbeh. In addition to the Umm el-Jimal Project, Dia'a is currently completing an ethnoarchaeological study of Tawabin in northern Jordan. Her interests include classical archaeology, ethnoarchaeology, museum studies, and cultural heritage.
Elizabeth is an archaeologist specializing in ceramic studies. She completed postgraduate studies in Roman archaeology at Durham University, as well as in ceramic and lithic analysis at the University of Southampton. Recently, she has worked with pottery on excavations in England, Jordan and Egypt. Her PhD research aims to analyze trade and economic patterns at Umm el-Jimal and the greater badiya, using ceramic finds from House XVII-XVIII as the primary evidence. Elizabeth is keen to help advance pottery studies in the region by employing detailed fabric analysis, including petrography, and by using quantification to garner a detailed view of the ceramic corpus and its changes over time.
Hana Bani Ata is a graduate candidate in classical archaeology at Yarmouk University in Irbid, Jordan. She has worked as an archaeologist and researcher on projects around northern Jordan, including on excavations of the House XVII-XVIII complex and other ongoing work at Umm el-Jimal.
Jacob Speelman graduated from Calvin College with a B.S.E. in Engineering and Philosophy and a minor in Archaeology. From January 2009 through December 2010 he was involved in developing a three-dimensional virtual reconstruction methodology for the Umm el-Jimal Project, which included field seasons in 2009 and 2010. Jacob works in pipeline integrity engineering and also has experience in pipeline design and project management. He has served as a board member, organizer and film selection committee member for a documentary film festival in his home town of Calgary, Alberta and is interested in sustainable international development and in the connections between technology, development and cultural heritage. Jacob is currently helping develop the UJ water project.
Dr. Brashler's research interests are situated primarily in the anthropology of Native North America, especially contemporary issues involving Native Americans and the archaeology of the Great Lakes region. Her specializations include ceramic technology, archaeological theory, and environmental anthropology. She also has been fortunate to work in Jordan on two different projects during the 1990s and early 2000s. Dr. Brashler oversaw the excavation of human burials at Umm el-Jimal in seasons from 1995 to 1998 and has continued work on the publication of the tombs and their skeletal and other contents.
Jeff DeKock is a ﬁlmmaker, photographer, and university professor who studied visual anthropology at the University of Manchester. He has founded production companies in the US and Kenya, recently directing a documentary on Kenya’s post‐election violence as part of an East‐Africa wide peace building initiative. His advertising designs have bolstered non‐proﬁt and commercial companies in many countries. Jeff has taught media production and anthropology courses on three continents, researched for the BBC, photographed for the New York Times, and his work has been published around the world.
Jobadiah Christiansen is currently gaining a masters in history at Kent State University, and has a graduate appointment there. He is working on the local history of his hometown in order to better understand how history and archaeology can be used for ongoing community development. His work at Umm el-Jimal has centered on plasters and their production, by focusing primarily on lime kilns. Job is interested in technology as a means of studying the daily lives of the subaltern.
Madeleine Goodman is a history and Chinese language major, as well as Archaeology minor, at Calvin College. A member of the virtual reconstruction fieldwork team at Umm el Jimal, she focuses on using photographic documentation to create 3D renderings of House XVIII with PhotoModeler and Maya software. Because of these experiences, she has become fascinated with studying and documenting cultures through the artifacts that they leave behind. Madeleine also enjoys studying languages, with the goal of analyzing primary documents and interacting with peoples of various cultures to obtain firsthand accounts of their traditions.
Muaffaq Hazza is an archaeologist and graduate candidate in history at Al al-Bayt University. Having grown up in Umm el-Jimal, he continues to call it home along with his family. Hazza, who has worked on the Umm el-Jimal Project since his youth, currently serves as an archaeologist and coordinator for its grant-funded programs and field seasons. His research interests and academic publications concentrate on early Islamic dynasties and epigraphic remains in the Hauran plain. As of spring 2013, Hazza also helps provide water and logistics to over 100,000 refugees from Syria as a wash consultant for UNICEF at Al-Zaatari refugee camp, nearby Umm el-Jimal.
Patrick Lorien graduated from the University of Copenhagen with a BA and MA in Near Eastern Archaeology. He has worked in Jordan for many field seasons, including in the Decapolis cities, Aqaba, and at Umm el-Jimal. Patrick specializes in the Late Roman and Early Byzantine/Early Islamic periods; one of his main interests is the architectural interplay and development of these periods in the Middle East. He is currently working as a freelancer, and is in the pursuit of a PhD.
Paul Christians is an educator and museum professional with an MA in anthropology (Chicago, 2006) who is currently a PhD candidate in anthropology at Stanford. He has worked in museum settings from creating content and community relations to traveling exhibitions. He has also developed databases and GIS archives for clients such as the Center for Ancient Middle Eastern Landscapes. Christians has developed and taught undergraduate courses in museums, history, and cultural heritage in the United States and Saudi Arabia. His research focuses on cultural heritage and community archaeology.
Sally de Vries has served the Umm el-Jimal Project as administrator for all of its field seasons from 1977 to the present. Since 2009 she has also conducted ethnographic interviews which were filmed and produced for the website by Open Hand Studios. She is a specialist in the ethnographic study of Syro-Palestinian dress and customs, covering the traditional societies of Palestine, Jordan and South Syria from 1830 to the present. For this, she has published numerous pieces, and lectured and exhibited frequently. After an earlier ‘life’ as a teacher, she’s also had a career as a realtor in Grand Rapids, Michigan, from 1976 to the present.
William SooHoo currently attends Calvin College as a double major in history and geology with a minor in archaeology. He is working on the virtual reconstruction of House XVIII, which entails using PhotoModeler and Maya to create three-dimensional renderings of the complex. He is also working on the construction of a GIS for the Umm el-Jimal site and its surrounds, which will allow for easier spatial analysis of the area.