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Institute for the Study of the Ancient World



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Landscapes of Death, Landscapes of Conflict (?)

Fortification and Boundary-making in the Late Second Millennium South Caucasus

Alan F. Greene

ISAW Visiting Research Scholar

After more than a century of Russian Imperial and Soviet research dominated by the excavation of thousands of tumulus burials, researchers examining the Bronze Age South Caucasus have now spent two decades investigating how the very different archaeology of settlements sheds light on the region's earliest political institutions and mass social inequalities (ca. 3500-1150 BCE). Most of this data has emerged from the sites of the Tsaghkahovit Plain, which have served as a micro-regional laboratory for Bronze and Iron Age studies since 1998. In this high elevation setting between Mt. Aragats and the Tsaghkunyats Range, deep consideration of the relations between burial tumuli, settlements, and hilltop fortresses has enabled a clearer picture to emerge of the development of socially stratified polities involved in warfare and the accumulation of wealth and status. But how exactly do the detailed and local models of political life from Tsaghkahovit articulate with the broader dynamics that tied the residents of the South Caucasus into a regional ecumene with a common political vocabulary? Data from the Kasakh Valley Archaeological Survey of Project ArAGATS—just south and east—are providing access points to these regional aspects of society and economy. At the same time, they are illuminating the paths and stakes of political landscape archaeology more generally.

Alan F. Greene is a Visiting Research Scholar at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World for the 2016-17 academic year. He is an anthropological archaeologist and co-director of the Project for the Archaeology and Geography of Ancient Transcaucasian Societies (ArAGATS), where his research focuses on questions of mass social inequality and political institutionalization in the Bronze and Early Iron Age South Caucasus. In particular, he examines the ways habitual production chains, spheres of exchange, and consumption patterns are implicated in the macro-scale (re)production of the region's earliest polities. Alan's current field project, funded by the National Science Foundation, examines the long term rhythms of settlement, economy, and warfare in Armenia's Upper Kasakh Valley. In the laboratory, he co-directs the Making of Ancient Eurasia (MAE) Project, a research consortium that develops and applies new approaches in digital radiography, synchrotron radiation, and portable X-ray fluorescence to study the histories of material assemblages, one artifact at a time. While at ISAW, he is studying the comparative archaeology of the economies of ancient Old World polities.

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Event Details

  • 04/18/2017
  • 06:00 PM
  • ISAW Lecture Hall

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