A community’s material things can be active participants in the democratic process. Hilary Gopnik argues that the inclusion of materiality in Jean-Paul Gagnon’s science of democracy will broaden the range of the inquiry and deepen the texture recovered
Senior Lecturer / Director Monash Centre for Ancient Cultures, Monash University
Hilary is a Near Eastern archaeologist who specialises in the study of Iron Age Iran and the South Caucasus, with a focus on the Medes of the Zagros Mountains.
She is the co-director of excavations funded by the National Science Foundation (USA) at the Iron Age citadel site of Oğlanqala and the Bronze Age site of Qizqala in Naxçivan, Azerbaijan.
Hilary has most recently received a four-year (2021–2025) Australian Research Council Discovery Project Grant, entitled The Other Democracy: Medes in the Iron Age, to continue her study of the Iron Age Median polities of Northwestern Iran.
This project uses compositional analysis of ceramics and faunal remains to elucidate the socio-political organisation of these communities.
The project hypothesises that Median communities practiced a form of congregational decision-making, in part to avoid the domination of the neighbouring Assyrian Empire.