Alessio Palmisano

Spatial Approaches to the Political and Commercial Landscapes of the Old Assyrian Colony Period

From the mid-20th century onwards, consolidated study of merchant archives from the Old Assyrian trading colony at Kanesh (Kültepe) has not only transformed our understanding of the social, economic and political dynamics of the Bronze Age Near East, but also overturned many preconceived notions about what constitutes pre-modern trade. Despite this disciplinary impact, and continued archaeological investigations at Kültepe and elsewhere, our understanding of this phenomenon has remained largely text-based and therefore of limited analytical scope, both spatially and contextually. The time is now right to reconsider it from a wider series of perspectives and this doctoral research aims to do so via a combination of archaeological and computational approaches that have never been applied to this subject in the past in order to highly some past misconceptions about the trade network and explore its wider economic and political geography.

The first phase of the research will mainly focus on site location and territorial modelling of Anatolia and Upper Mesopotamia city-states. This will allow me to characterise what common location patterns are behind early Middle Bronze Age sites and to investigate the socio-political links among sites sharing the same broad sub-region and perhaps to identify possible political boundaries.

Thereafter, I will evaluate how access to the major resources involved in the Assyrian colony trade (e. g. copper, silver, gold, as well as wool sheep for textiles), geographical features (e. g. mountain chains, rivers, valleys, etc.) and the pre-existing geo-political situation may have affected the distribution and hierarchical organization of the Old Assyrian colonies in Upper Mesopotamia and Central Anatolia.

Finally, I will reconsider ancient routes from the Assyrian capital, Ashur, to the Anatolian city-states and back again by analysing Old Assyrian texts and generating computational models of possible paths in order to detect which factors (environmental or socio-political) affected these routes, and by exploring their relationship to other regional centres and to likely colonies.

Supervisors

 Educational background

  • BA, Archaeology ,“Sapienza” Universita’ di Roma, 2004
  • MA, Archaeology of Ancient Near East,“Sapienza” Universita’ di Roma, 2007
  • MSc , GIS and Spatial Analysis in Archaeology ,UCL, 2009

CONFERENCE PAPERS PRESENTED

Computational and Spatial Approaches to the Commercial Landscapes and Political Geography of the Old-Assyrian Colony Period. 56th Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale (RAI). Universitat de Barcelona, 25-30 July 2010.

Settlement Patterns and Interactions in the West Bank highlands in the Iron Age I Period. A new approach. 56th Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale (RAI). Universitat de Barcelona, 25-30 July 2010.

Geo-political patterns and connectivity in the Upper Khabur Valley in the Middle Bronze Age. 57th Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale (RAI). “Sapienza” Universita’ di Roma, 4-8 July 2011.

PUBLICATIONS

Computational and Spatial Approaches to the Commercial Landscapes and Political Geography of the Old-Assyrian Colony Period. In Proceedings of the 56th Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, Barcelona, 26-30 july. In press.

Settlement Patterns and Interactions in the West Bank highlands in the Iron Age I Period. A new approach. In Proceedings of the 56th Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, Barcelona, 26-30 july. In press.


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