(Re-)Defining an Ancient Near Eastern Contact Zone

Northwest Arabia in the 2nd Millennium BC

Arnulf Hausleiter

ISAW Visiting Research Scholar

Newly discovered funerary contexts of late 3rd / early 2nd millennium BC date at Tayma, North-west Arabia, suggest close contacts to the Syro-Levantine world already during the Bronze Age as evidenced by ceremonial weapons elsewhere known from so-called warrior-graves. At the same time -- surrounded by an impressive wall -- the oasis reached its largest premodern extension. In addition, archaeometric analysis of bronze objects from Tayma indicate an uninterrupted acquisition of raw materials from the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula through Bronze to Iron Ages, together with stratigraphic evidence suggesting a settlement continuity of the oasis, probably independent from the collapse of LBA societies in the Eastern Mediterranean. The interest of foreign powers, such as Egypt, Assyria, Babylon and Achaemenid Persia in the region can thus be understood as consequence of Tayma being part of earlier Bronze Age networks.

Arnulf Hausleiter (MA 1992, PhD 1996 University of Munich, Habilitation 2012 Freie Universität Berlin) is a Near Eastern archaeologist currently based at the Orient Department of Berlin’s German Archaeological Institute (DAI). Since 2004 he has been co-directing the Saudi-German multidisciplinary field project at the oasis of Tayma, Northwest Arabia. He was assistant professor at Berlin’s Freie Universität (1997-2002), and at the Carsten Niebuhr Institute, University of Copenhagen (2003), and guest professor at Vienna University (2003-2004). Currently teaching at the Freie Universität Berlin he has also taught at other European universities. Following his research interests in Bronze and Iron Age civilisations in the Near East, he also participated to excavations at the Assyrian capital Ashur, Iraq, and co-directed a survey of the lower town of the provincial Assyrian town Til Barsip, Syria. Since 2009 he has been working in the city of Arbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. In 2002 he was member of the UNESCO team investigating the impact of the planned Makhool dam on archaeological sites in the Tigris valley. He authored or co-edited several books on ceramic studies (1999, 2010, 2014), rituals (2003) or archaeological thought (2002). During his time as a Visiting Research Scholar at ISAW, his research is aimed at re-defining the role of Northwest Arabia as a dynamic and culturally self-determined area located in one of the most interesting contact zones of the Near East.

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