In the Late Bronze Age (1500-1150 BC) and Iron Age (1150 BC-300 AD), fortresses dotted hilltops and rock outcrops in the highlands of eastern Turkey, northwestern Iran, and the south Caucasus (modern Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia). After a long period of mobility and pastoral economy that left few archaeologically-visible settlements during the preceding Middle Bronze Age (2400-1500 BC), Late Bronze and Iron Age fortresses marked the reappearance of a more settled mode of life, the transition to an agricultural economy, and the emergence of the first complex polities in the region. However, little is known about the location, size, and character of the domestic settlements that must have been associated with these fortresses or the identity and subsistence strategies of their inhabitants.
Landscape-oriented archaeological research in the Şərur Plain of Naxçıvan, Azerbaijan, has revealed a multiple fortress-settlement complex that offers the opportunity to examine the ancient populations living in the shadows of fortresses. Oğlanqala, the dominant fortress on the plain, was part of a settlement complex consisting of two fortresses and a domestic settlement, all of which may have been surrounded by a wall enclosing at least 487 ha. The size of the enclosed area is particularly significant: in the South Caucasus, settlements of pre-Medieval periods rarely encompass more than 10ha, including their fortification walls. The position of the complex at the entrance to a river pass may have facilitated control of highland pastoral and lowland agricultural resources. These discoveries demonstrate the benefits of settlement and landscape archaeology approaches in the South Caucasus, suggest that a large fortified settlement emerged in
Naxçıvan as early as the Middle Bronze Age (during a period where few settlements are known and archaeological interpretations largely rest on excavation of kurgan burials), and indicate that the Iron Age Urartian state (ninth-seventh centuries BC) expanded into an area with pre-existing complex political and settlement traditions.
Emily Hammer, New York University, ARISC Fellow
Location: Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences, Naxçivan Section, H.Aliyev Avenue 76, Naxcivan City, Azerbaijan
Date: July 31, 2013, 11 am
Lecturer’s bio: Emily Hammer holds a PhD in Anthropology from Harvard University (2012) and a BA both in Mathematics and Classical & Near Eastern Archaeology from Bryn Mawr College (2006). Her research and teaching interests include the development of complex societies in the ancient Near East and the impacts these societies had on their environments. In particular, she has studied the relationship between sedentary and mobile communities and their associated natural and engineered landscapes in Turkey, Azerbaijan, and the United Arab Emirates. Her methodological expertise is in landscape archaeology, employing Geographical Information Systems and spatial analysis to integrate the results of archaeological survey and excavation with data gleaned from historical texts, ethnography, environmental records, digital terrain models, and satellite imagery. She is currently Visiting Assistant Professor at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York
University and an ARISC Graduate Student, Postdoctoral and Junior Faculty Research Fellowship awardee. Funding for this fellowship is made possible by a grant from the US Department of Education. Dr. Hammer’s current summer research in Azerbaijan (in collaboration with Drs. Lauren Ristvet and Hilary Gopnik) is co-sponsored by ARISC and the Dyson Research Fund of the University of Pennsylvania Museum.
For more information, please see www.arisc.org or https://www.facebook.com/events/209058099217997/
* ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, or status as a covered veteran.
American Research Institute of the South Caucasus
c/o Ian Lindsay
Dept. of Anthropology
700 W. State St., Suite 219
West Lafayette, IN 47907 Visit the website at http://www.arisc.org
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