ISAW Cohosts International Conference with École Pratique des Hautes Études (PSL, Paris)

By Iris Fernandez

On April 18th and 19th ISAW co-hosted a joint international conference with the École Pratique des Hautes Études at the Institut National de l’Histoire de l’Art in Paris, France. The conference titled Between the Age of Diplomacy and the First Great Empire in Ancient West Asia (1200 - 900 BC): Moving Beyond the Paradigm of Collapse and Regeneration was co-organized by Maria Grazia Masetti-Rouault (EPHE, PSL), Lorenzo d’Alfonso (ISAW, NYU) & Robert Hawley (EPHE, PSL).

The reconstruction of the history of the intermediate period between the end of the Bronze Age and the beginning of the Iron Age in western Asia, remains today a complex subject of study. The traditional representation depicts cultural void and political turmoil as marks of this Dark Age, indicated by the strong decrease of documents and testimonies, both in material culture and textual sources. The sudden destruction and/or abandonment of major trade and political centers would represent a definitive caesura with the Age of Diplomacy. The most recent studies, however, offer an alternative vision of the period. The new models rather insist on the image of societies continuously evolving, transforming themselves by creating new structures, under the pressure of different conditions and stimuli, and at a relatively fast pace. In the new picture, still only barely sketched, modifications and innovations in the political structures as well as in the culture and religion of the western Asian societies manifest themselves in all their importance at the beginning of the Iron Age (turn of the 2nd millennium BCE).

The NYU-PSL Paris conference planned to foster the new narrative of transformation and question and problematize the traditional narrative of strong discontinuity, based on the study of regional dynamics.

A number of ISAW community members gave talks at the conference:

Lorenzo d’Alfonso (Associate Professor, ISAW, New York University): The ‘Age of Experimentation’: Understanding the LBA-IA transition in central Anatolia

Lorenzo Castellano (PhD student, ISAW, New York University): Agriculture, Landscape, and Economy across the Late Bronze – Iron Age transition. A view from Kınık Höyük and South-Central Anatolia

Daniel E. Fleming (Professor, ISAW, New York University): After Emar: The Depopulation of the Middle Euphrates in the Early Iron Age

Nancy Highcock (Postdoctoral researcher, Cambridge University, NYU Alumna): The Social World of the Long-Distance Merchant across the Late Bronze-Iron Age Transition

Kate Justement (PhD student, ISAW, New York University): Monument and Motif in Transition: Sennacherib’s Rock Reliefs at Maltai and Bawian

Nathan Lovejoy (PhD student, ISAW, New York University): The Cult of the Storm-god in Iron Age Syro-Anatolia: Chronological and Geopolitical Developments

Jonathan Valk (Lecturer, Leiden University, ISAW Alumnus): New Categories for a New Age: Between Arameans and Aramaic in a Time of Transition


The program is available here:

Abstracts of the presentations can be found here: