Federico Manuelli

Arslantepe, Late Bronze Age. Hittite Influence and Local Traditions in an Eastern Anatolian Community

Sapienza Universita di Roma, 2013

 

This is the last volume of the “Arslantepe” series, dedicated to the publication of the final results of the excavations and researches conducted on the site by the Italian Archaeological Expedition in Eastern Anatolia.
The book provides a detailed account of comprehensive sets of data and materials from the Late Bronze Age levels recovered at Arslantepe during the earlier excavations of the late-1960s and 1970s on the northern area and the most recent works in the south-western sector of the mound, reprocessing them as a whole and integrating all the information available. The purpose pursued was to reconstruct the historical picture of the site and the Upper Euphrates region during the Hittite expansion. The results obtained shed light on the nature of the contact established between the Hittite polity and its eastern periphery, revealing aspects of continuity or change at Arslantepe associated with different relations between the local community and the centralised Central Anatolian power.

Several categories of archaeological data have been taken into consideration. First, pottery assemblages are analysed in many aspects such as processes of production, function and distribution in contexts of use, chronological development of diagnostic attributes and regional and extra-regional diffusion, in order to detect both daily-life aspects and the influence and nature of external relations with the entail as for socio-political organization.

The second category of artifact is represented by seals and seal impressions, through which administrative implements and practices, as well as cultural influences and political relationships are examined. Other types of evidence are represented by craft activities, with a restricted amount of material within each category. Metalwork, as well as other classes of artifact such as bone, clay and stone objects, have been typologically analysed in order to observe their spatial and chronological distribution, and identify the degree of external cultural contact within the different categories. Weaving and macro-lithic tools, on the other hand, were subjected to technological and functional analysis, determining use-wear, in order to recognize and understand aspects of daily-life. 

A last category of finds is faunal remains. Animal bone assemblages have been diachronically and synchronically compared to those belonging to the previous Arslantepe phases and other coeval collections from Anatolia, in order to acknowledge socio-economic changes and environmental conditions at the site.

Chemical-physical analyses have been carried out on pottery sherds in order to assess their mineralogical compositions and supply information about manufacturing processes, identifying raw materials and providing useful suggestions about ceramic imports, trade networks and geographic interrelations. Moreover, radiocarbon dates have been established from selected samples to anchor the relative chronology obtained through the detailed analysis of archaeological records to a range of absolute dates.

Finally, consideration also involve architectural remains, as for both monumental defensive systems linked to Central Anatolian proto-types and domestic structures suitable for connection with the local traditions. This has provided useful information about settlement pattern and external input versus indigenous customs.

The whole of analysed data are at a later stage processed together through three different approaches: quantitative, chronological and spatial, allowing the setting of the material in its functional, temporal and geographical contexts. Finally, the results achieved from Arslantepe are observed within the wider framework of the historical, socio-economic and political circumstances of the Late Bronze Age in the Upper Euphrates region and, more generally, the Anatolian and northern Syrian territories.

The result obtained is the reconstruction of the overall framework of the Arslantepe’s material culture in that place and in that crucial period between 1700 and 1200 BC, beginning with the emergence of new Central Anatolian influences on the site in the second quarter of the second millennium, to the expansion of the Hittite Empire towards the Euphrates, and its subsequent crisis and collapse.

 

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