National Geographic Explorer and NG's first Archaeology Fellow, Fredrik Hiebert has studied ancient trade across Asia for more than twenty-five years. Though awarded a citation as a "Future Scientist" in 1972, his interests shifted and he attended Interlochen Arts Academy with a focus on graphic arts. He became involved in archaeology while studying art in Paris, and joined a French expedition investigating ancient seafaring between Mesopotamia and India. He completed his doctoral dissertation at Harvard University in 1992, documenting a 4000-year old civilization in the sands of Central Asia. He served as the Dyson Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania before joining the National Geographic Society as Archaeology Fellow in 2003. He is married to archaeologist Katherine Moore and lives in Havertown, Pennsylvania.
Pursuing his fascination with ancient overland cultural connections, he led a 10-year long research project at the famous site of Anau Depe in Turkmenistan. This site spans the period from the earliest villages north of the Kopet Dag mountain range to the medieval cities of the great Khanates of Central Asia. More recently, he has collaborated with engineer Albert Lin on using satellite images to find ancient sites without disturbing the ground surface in Mongolia.
In 1994, Fred founded the Black Sea Trade Project, the first archaeological expedition to combine both land and deep-water archaeology in a single research plan. He is the chief archaeologist on Robert Ballard's projects in the Black Sea. Seven seasons of land explorations along the Black Sea coast at Sinop have identified more than 170 ancient archaeological sites on land, documenting the importance of the sea trade in the Black Sea. Discoveries of archaeological remains underwater on the flooded shelf near Sinop have led to a re-evaluation of Biblical flood stories and a new understanding of life around the Black Sea some 7000 years ago. Since that time, he has applied sonar technologies to archaeological settings in Lake Titicaca, Bolivia, and Lake Issykul, Kazakhstan.
In 2003, Fred began a project in Afghanistan for National Geographic that has become famous around the world. Working with museum curators at the Kabul National Museum in Afghanistan, he led the team that conducted an inventory of the newly-discovered treasures of the museum: art objects and archaeological finds which had been hidden for their protection during a tumultuous decade of civil war. After years of study and archival work, a selection of the objects has appeared as a special National Geographic exhibition around the United States and Europe. Fred curated this exhibition in addition to working to secure the cultural heritage of Afghanistan through advocacy, training, development of museum resources. In addition, he has been active in working with U.S. armed forces on developing a program of cultural heritage awareness for service members.
In 2011, National Geographic and Fredrik Hiebert debuted a new traveling exhibition in collaboration with Lucas Films: "Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology", which links objects and images from the famous films with real treasures and real stories from the worlds great archaeology museums. This show finally convinced his two sons, now 20 and 14, that their father really is an archaeologist.
In addition to other honors, Fredrik Hiebert received the chairman's award from the National Geographic Committee on Research and Exploration in 1998 for his work on the Black Sea flood and its Biblical connections.