Hardin named director of MSU’s Cobb Institute of Archaeology

Contact: Sarah Nicholas

Studio portrait of Jimmy Hardin
Jimmy Hardin (Photo by Beth Wynn)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State’s College of Arts and Sciences is announcing veteran archaeologist and associate professor Jimmy Hardin as the new director of the Cobb Institute of Archaeology. 

Specializing in the Bronze and Iron Age cultures of ancient Syria-Palestine, Hardin has served as interim director of the Cobb Institute since 2019 and has more than two decades of experience at MSU.

“The mission of MSU’s Cobb Institute of Archaeology is to support research and outreach endeavors related to the Middle East and to Native Americans of the American South. As an expert in Middle Eastern archaeology and as a close observer of Mississippi archaeology, Dr. Hardin is perfectly positioned to lead the Cobb Institute,” said Rick Travis, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, noting Hardin and the institute offer substantial research and study abroad opportunities.

“Dr. Hardin is a highly accomplished teacher. He has led numerous archaeological field trips to Israel where he has trained hundreds of MSU students,” Travis said. “If you are around him for very long, you will understand the passion he has for the work of the Cobb Institute.”

Travis said Hardin’s reputation as a “highly regarded researcher among the community of Middle Eastern archaeologists” plays a key role in helping understand the development of early kingdom borders and political entities of the early establishment of the states of Judah and Israel around 1,000 B.C.

Hardin plans to continue his active field research project in southern Israel while also continuing the institute’s “long tradition” of training MSU students—as well as others—in archaeological survey and field excavations in the Middle East.

“Our current research relates to changes occurring after the great collapse of Bronze Age civilizations and before the Iron Age kingdoms such as Ammon, Edom, Israel, Judah, Moab and others.

“I could not be more excited to continue working with the Cobb Institute’s research associates, including several new colleagues, as we move forward with expanded research agendas in the southeastern U.S. and the Mediterranean basin,” Hardin said. “We continue to explore new opportunities in both of these geographical areas and especially in our own back yard with two new projects within 10 miles of campus.”

He noted current work in Croatia, Israel, Morocco, the U.S. Virgin Islands and in several states across the southeastern U.S. and also cited support from MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, Office of Research and Economic Development, MSU Foundation and the Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures.

“This support, along with Cobb resources, has positioned archaeology at MSU to become even more relevant and impactful in world archaeology,” Hardin said.

He is co-editor, along with MSU Professor Emeritus Joe Seger, of a volume from Field IV excavations at Tel Gezer, Israel, on the fortification systems of the Middle Bronze age and later.

Hardin has participated in archaeological fieldwork in the southeastern and southwestern U.S. and at numerous sites in Cyprus, Israel and Jordan. Additionally, he has been involved with the Lahav research project at Tel Halif in Israel since 1986 and is presently working with the project’s senior staff on publication of the Iron Age II materials from that area. He also is co-directing excavations and survey at Khirbet Summeily, a small Iron Age site in southern Israel in the border region of ancient Philistia and Judah.

Hardin serves on the board of directors for the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem, America’s second oldest overseas research center, and was recognized by the Mississippi Humanities Council as Teacher of the Year in 2013.

Hardin earned his Ph.D. and master’s degree, both in Near Eastern archaeology, from the University of Arizona. He received his bachelor’s degree in anthropology from MSU.

The Cobb Institute, a research and service unit of the College of Arts and Sciences, was founded in 1971 to promote archaeological research and education at MSU. It is home to the Lois Dowdle Cobb Museum of Archaeology.

Complete details about MSU’s Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures are available at www.amec.msstate.edu.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu