Oya Topçuoğlu is a Lecturer in the Middle East and North African Studies Program at Northwestern University. She holds a PhD in the Art and Archaeology of the Ancient Near East from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, and a BA in Ottoman History from Boğaziçi University in Istanbul. Her research addresses issues of social identity and cultural exchange, and the effects of political change and ideology on the material record of the ancient Middle East. She specializes in cylinder seals and sealing practices, focusing on the role of seal imagery as important visual tools in the construction of identity, political power, and ideology. In addition to her work on iconography and symbolism, she studies the looting and illegal trafficking of antiquities from Iraq and Syria, the political uses of the ancient past, and its role in the formation of national identities in the modern Middle East. She is particularly interested in the history of archaeology and museums, and cultural heritage preservation in her native Turkey.