Michal Birkenfeld

Dr. Michal Birkenfeld

Senior Lecturer
Department of Archaeology
Digital Archaeology Research Lab [BGU-DARC]

Dr. Michal Birkenfeld is a senior lecturer at BGU department of Archaeology, and the head of the BGU Digital Archaeology Research laboratory [BGU-DARC].

My research focuses on early societies of the southern Levant; I study the later pre-historic and early proto-historic periods, a time of extensive transformations in human evolution, such as the transition from mobile hunter-gatherers to settled agriculturalists and the development of complex, hierarchical societies. Methodologically, I specialize in computer applications, ameliorating and enhancing ‘traditional’ archaeological methods with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and other Digital Humanities methods and technologies. 

Through the study of human activities within their contexts, I explore socio-economic and cultural processes. My research attempts the synergy of my two areas of expertise; I believe that exploring the subtle relationships between human action and space at various scales of reference (from intra- to inter-site and from the single activity to the regional and supra-regional scales) enables the necessary breadth and depth needed to investigate complex human processes. To do so I employ long-established archaeological methods, augmented with spatial statistics and cutting-edge computerized methods, specifically GIS, remote sensing and 3D digital recording and analyses. 

In recent years, my research has focused on the Early eolithic of the southern Negev Desert. The human encounter with the arid environment resulted in very distinct adaptations, and different ways of exploiting and manipulating the natural world. Through the study of Neolithic activity and its organization within the broader geographic and social contexts, I search for a systemic understanding of Neolithic socio-economic and ritual systems and how they were structured and integrated within the extreme environment of the region.