Owen Doonan

Owen Doonan
(818) 677-6753
Office location:
SG 103


Professor of Art, 2012 [Program in Art History]

Director, Sinop Kale Excavations
GMA Hanfmann Lecturer, Archaeological Institute of America

B.A. 1986, Tufts University
Ph.D. 1993, Brown University

My goal is to empower artists and student scholars to develop innovative and rigorous narratives using Art History and Archaeology. My special interests are in ancient Greek, Roman and Anatolian (within the country of Turkey) civilizations. I also teach theoretical classes in Art History (Historiography and practice, Exhibition Design, Landscapes and art), and the survey of western art affectionately known as "Cavemen to Computers." I also teach in coordination with the programs in Anthropology, Classical Studies and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. And of course I direct the Sinop Regional Archaeological Project and Sinop Kale excavations in the time left over... 

I have been teaching at CSU Northridge since 2003 following a decade of teaching and research at at Bilkent University (Ankara Turkey), the University of Illinois-Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania.  At CSU Northridge I have developed and taught 15 different courses ranging from undergraduate western art history surveys to interdisciplinary graduate seminars such as “Landscapes in Art and Culture,” "Art History: Methodology and Historiography," and "Archaeological Fieldwork in Anatolia."  In both research and teaching my approach is trans-disciplinary: I weave together views of the past arising out of art historical analyses, geographic modeling, cultural anthropology and archaeology in pursuit of insights about the impacts of colonization on culture formation in the ancient world.  Over the years I have participated in and directed archaeological excavations in Italy, Sicily, Sardinia, Greece, Israel, and Mallorca.  

I have devoted the past 25 years to research and teaching about the ancient cultures of the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and the Middle East.  I co-founded the Sinop (Turkey) Regional Archaeological Project in 1996 and have served as its Director ever since.  The research was centered on the Greco-Roman colonial port of Sinop (ancient Sinope).  Sinope was the most important pre-modern port on the south coast of the Black Sea, located at the center of the Turkish coast directly opposing the Crimean peninsula to the North.  From 1996-2000 the project included systematic archaeological and geomorphological surveys on land in collaboration with a systematic underwater archaeological survey led by Dr. Robert Ballard and sponsored by the National Geographic Society. The project was designed as the first integrated terrestrial and undersea survey of a trade and production system that extended “from mountaintop to ocean bottom.” As of 2012 we have completed eight seasons of archaeological survey and environmental research in the hinterland around Sinope, recording more than 400 archaeological sites ranging from Paleolithic to Ottoman periods.  I am currently organizing the publication of the final reports of these two phases of the survey (1996-2000; 2010-2012). In 2015 I initiated a major long-term international excavation in the heart of the ancient Greco-Roman colony of Sinope with support from the National Geographic Society, the National Endowment for the Humanities, CSU Northridge and several participating Universities, and private sponsors.

My field research has been supported by numerous competitive external sources, including two three-year NEH Collaborative Research Grants (2010-2012, 2015-2017) and several grants (1996-2000, 2003, 2015) from the National Geographic Society. My own research and writing have been supported by grants from the Getty Residential Scholars program, the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung (2005), the NEH (1999), and the International Research Exchange Board (IREX, 2001).  I have received a number of awards for my work including the Jerome Richfield Fellowship at CSUN (2012) and the Archaeological Institute of America's G.M.A. Hanfmann Lectureship for 2016-17. Please see my page for a selection of my publications and the Sinop Regional Archaeological Project web page for news about the Sinop Kale excavations.

I am eager to leverage my international work to extend cross-cultural learning and outreach to the community, and welcome inquiries from students, colleagues and members of the broader community interested in archaeology, Turkey, the Black Sea region and related topics.