BA (Vassar), MPhil (Cambridge), PhD (Harvard)



Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 272322
The University of Aberdeen Department of Archaeology
University of Aberdeen
St Mary's, Elphinstone Road
Aberdeen   AB24 3UF   UK
+44(0)1224 272322
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Wright is a landscape archaeologist with a research focus on East Asia. He studies the monumentality and movement, settlement patterns, mobile pastoralist economies, political landscapes, and the spatial structure of communities in many contexts. Currently he carries out research in Mongolia and China using primarily archaeological survey and other spatial data sources. His scholarly interests include the anthropology of mobility, the history of archaeology,  the application of the archaeological perspective to the modern human experience of the past, studying the way that archaeological and other material remains of the past are interpreted as they are discovered and transformed into public presentations. 

Previously, Wright was one of the directors of the first intensive archaeological surveys in Eastern Eurasia, the Egiin Gol Survey (1997-2002) and the Baga Gazaryn Chuluu Project (2004-2008) in Mongolia and key member of the Chengdu Plain Archaeological Survey (2007-2010).  He was also a participant in field research on the origins of rice agriculture, and the foundations of the Bronze Age Erlitou and Shang states.   He received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from Harvard University (2006, Anthropology) where he studied the adoption of nomadic pastoralism and the dynamics of  subsistence and landscape in Northern Mongolia and before that an M.Phil. from Cambridge University (East Asia Archaeology 1995) with a thesis on Neolithic Dawenkou culture mortuary ritual.   In addition to China and Mongolia, he has carried out fieldwork in Greece,Turkey, China, Egypt, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Greece, Mexico, India, Pakistan Jordan and Belize.


Current Research

Khitan-Liao Archaeological Survey and History Project

Inner Mongolia, China

Dornod Mongol Survey



Available to supervise PhD Students in topics involving Eurasia, Asia, Landscape Archaeology, Monuments,  Mobility. 


Teaching Responsibilities


Course Coordinator

Caves to Kingdoms: An Introduction to Prehistoric Archaeology (AY1503)

Archaeologies of Social Life (AY2503)

The Archaeology of East Asia:Rice, Rites and Sacrifice


Contributing Lecturer

Archaeologies of Landscape (AY3504)

Northern Peoples and Cultures (AY5501)

Current Issues in Archaeology (AY4510)

Advances in Archaeological Approaches (AY5504)

Further Info

External Responsibilities

Research Associate in Department of History the University of Birmingham, Understanding Cities in Premodern East Asia

Previous Research

Chengdu Plain Archaeological Survey

Sichuan, China

Egiin Gol Survey

Bulgan, Mongolia

Baga Gazaryn Chuluu Project




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Contributions to Journals


  • Li, M., Fang, H., Zheng, TX., Rosen, A., Wright, H., Wright, J. & Wang, Y. (2018). 'Archeology of the Lu City: Place memory and urban foundation in Early China'. Archaeological Research in Asia, vol. 14, pp. 151-160.
    [Online] DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ara.2017.02.006
  • Wright, J., Ganbaatar, G., Honeychurch, W., Byambatseren, B. & Rosen, A. (in press). 'The Earliest Bronze Age Culture of the Southeastern Gobi Desert, Mongolia'. Antiquity.
    [Online] AURA: Wright_et_al_Ulaanzuukh_Monuments_revisions.pdf
  • Wright, J. (2017). 'The honest labour of stone mounds: monuments of Bronze and Iron Age Mongolia as costly signals'. World Archaeology, vol. 49, no. 4, pp. 547-567.
    [Online] DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00438243.2017.1360791
  • Wright, J. (2016). 'Households without Houses: Mobility and Moorings on the Eurasian Steppe'. Journal of Anthropological Research, vol. 72, no. 2, pp. 133-157.
    [Online] DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/686297
    [Online] AURA: 686297.pdf
  • Wright, J. (2015). 'A Possible Archaeological Case for the Taxation of Medieval Eurasian Nomads'. The Journal of Economic and Social History of the Orient, vol. 58, no. 3, pp. 267-292.
    [Online] DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/15685209-12341375
    [Online] AURA: Wright_2015_A_Case_of_Taxation.rtf
  • Jackson, SE. & Wright, J. (2014). 'The Work of Monuments: Reflections on Spatial, Temporal and Social Orientations in Mongolia and the Maya Lowlands'. Cambridge Archaeological Journal, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 117-140.
    [Online] DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0959774314000018
  • Wright, J. (2014). 'Grammars of Design: Tools for Reading Khirigsuurs'. Studia Archaeologica, vol. XXXIV, pp. 142-163.
  • Wright, J. (2012). 'Landscapes of Inequality? A Critique of Monumental Hierarchy in the Mongolian Bronze Age'. Asian Perspectives, vol. 51, no. 2, pp. 139-163.
    [Online] DOI: https://doi.org/10.1353/asi.2014.0008
  • Wright, J., Honeychurch, W. & Amartuvshin, C. (2009). 'The Xiongnu Settlements of Egiin Gol, Mongolia'. Antiquity, vol. 83, no. 320, pp. 372–387.
    [Online] DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003598X00098495

Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings


  • Wright, JSC. (2016). Describing Microenvironments used for Nomadic Pastoralist Habitation Sites: Explanatory tools for Surfaces, Places and Networks. in D Contreras (ed.), The Archaeology of Human-Environment Interactions. Routledge, New York, pp. 211-228.
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