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Late Chalcolithic to Early Bronze Age settlement patterns in the Greater Western Jazira : trajectories of sedentism in the semi-arid Syrian steppe

In the well-researched archaeological landscape of Northern Mesopotamia, there exists a large region of little-to-no previous investigation: the Greater Western Jazira (GWJ) of northeastern Syria. This thesis takes a geographically holistic approach to investigating the GWJ, focussed on the crucial time of the late 5th to 3rd millennium BC. This period saw an initial abandonment of sedentism in the steppe during the Late Chalcolithic, and subsequent rapid settlement growth with large urban centres in the Early Bronze Age. These dynamics are examined by collating diverse ground truth data from four excavations, three surveys, and several other investigations. These are integrated with extensive remote sensing research, involving the systematic analysis of all areas of the GWJ using satellite imagery and elevation data, processed through a GIS database. During the course of this research, a refined categorisation of heterogeneous varieties of the large fortified tell settlement type commonly termed "Kranzh├╝gel" is developed and implemented. The evidence gathered shows a complex system of sedentary habitation in the steppe, with a total of 302 sites likely dating to the period in question, 160 of which were newly identified by this thesis. Analyses carried out on site densities, settlement sizes, grain production, supporting settlements for centres, and site alignments allow several economic systems to be proposed. These show that various areas of the GWJ not only underwent very different sedentarisation (and possibly nomadisation) processes, but also owed their existence to both indigenous developments and external forces; and their survival to diverse interdependent practices including agro-pastoralism and trade. Specifically, two distinct trajectories of early and mid-EBA settlement are identified in the north and the centre-south of the region, respectively. Placing this in a wider context, it is shown that the GWJ was an integral part of the Northern Mesopotamian economic and political landscape, belying its reputation as a "marginal" area. Thus it becomes evident that this region demands greater integration into analyses and theories concerning Near Eastern archaeology.
Date January 2015
CreatorsSmith, Stefan Lorenz
PublisherDurham University
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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