This volume contains 21 papers presented at Sessions 1 (The Neolithic–Chalcolithic transition in Upper Mesopotamia. Subsistence strategies, economy, society and identity; key note speaker M. Frangipane) and 2 (The Levant in the Bronze Age: crossroad or frontier between different cultures?; key note speaker A. Maeir) of the 5th edition of the “Broadening Horizons” Conference, which was held at the University of Udine from 5th to 8th June 2017. Broadening Horizons is an international meeting that aims to offer an opportunity for relatively informal discussion, especially (though not exclusively) for young/early
career archaeologists specialized in the ancient Near East and disciplines relevant to the main theme of each congress session. All the papers have passed a double blind peer-review process and provide significant contributions on a number of topics – among which material culture (e.g. pottery tradition and architecture), settlement pattern, social changes, cultural transmission and economic dynamics – that are of fundamental importance for the archaeology of Mesopotamia and the Levant.
Marco Iamoni is a research fellow at the Department of Humanities and Cultural Heritage of the University of Udine. He has been working in the Middle East since 1999, with excavations and surveys conducted in Syria (in particular at Qatna and Palmyra), Oman, Lebanon and Iraq (Kurdistan Region). He has authored several scientific works, among which a monograph entitled “The Late MBA and LBA Pottery Horizons at Qatna. Innovation and Conservation in the Ceramic Tradition of a Regional Capital and the Implications for Second Millennium Syrian Chronology” published in 2012 by Forum Editrice as the second volume in the series “Studi Archeologici su Qatna”. He has recently begun two joint research projects in Lebanon (the Northern Lebanon Project) and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (the Asingeran Excavation Project), that involve direct field investigations regarding his two current major research areas: the development of Bronze Age societies in the Levant and Western Syria, and the
onset and rapid growth of socio-economic complexity in Upper Mesopotamia.
Spinning bowls are known especially from Egypt, but several examples have also been found in the Palestine area; they are spread from the Middle Bronze Age to the Late period. According to the traditional view the most ancient spinning bowls are those from Egypt, which do not predate the Middle Kingdom, while the Palestinian specimens were derived from the Egyptians’, but some evidence challenges this dating. A spinning bowl kept in the Museo Egizio in Turin was traditionally dated to the New Kingdom, but it shows several features which suggest an earlier dating. Study of Schiaparelli’s excavation notes and comparison with similar objects from Tell el-Farkha suggest that a Predynastic date is more plausible. Egyptian spinning bowls were thus probably introduced at least in late Predynastic times. Excavations in Jordan have shown that in that area these items existed as early as the late Chalcolithic period. Different types of morphologies and specimens that are only partially preserved can make the identification of these bowls quite challenging.
In 2009 and 2010, the Syrian-German mission excavated the richly furnished Tomb VII at Qaṭna which yielded an inventory dating to the Middle Bronze Age IIA-IIB. The inventory comprised a large assemblage of gold jewellery including pendants, rings, toggle pins and long bands. While some of these jewellery items represent types already known from Syria and the Northern Levant, other types from Tomb VII have previously been attested only in the Southern Levant. Hence, the jewellery assemblage from Tomb VII is composed of types referring to both the Syrian/Northern Levantine and the Southern Levantine region. In this study, a selection of the gold jewellery from Tomb VII will be discussed against the background of similar items from other sites in the Syro-Levantine region. This approach aims at embedding the assemblage from Tomb VII into its wider cultural context which will ultimately illuminate how the interregional relations between the Syro-Levantine states are reflected in the material culture of the ruling class of Middle Bronze Age Qaṭna.
In the Late Bronze Age, the Near East saw the Babylonian intellectual heritage expansion throughout the region.
Although previous works only studied this phenomenon from the Babylonian perspective, recent trends
and methodologies prefer to present it from the reception sites. One of them was the Levantine city of Ugarit.
This kingdom developed an active and profitable international commerce as well as intense diplomatic contacts
with the cradles of that knowledge, Babylon and Assyria. On this matter, clay tablets that belong to Babylonian
tradition were unearthed in several private houses whose owners were important merchants and administrators
of the Kingdom. Some of these texts reveal that these houses were also schools where Babylonians and Assyrians
worked as teachers.
The Orontes valley is a heterogeneous area located at the border of the humid Mediterranean zone and the dry Syrian steppe: surrounded by mountains, it has narrow valleys, deep gorges, marshes, extensive fertile plains, and marked differences in climate. All these factors have greatly influenced settlement in the region throughout its history. Their effects were exacerbated by the chaotic political situation that characterized the valley during the Late Bronze Age, when, along the river, the Great Powers of the time found themselves in direct contact for the first time. The paper tries to analyze how the region’s morphology and natural environment affected both the local settlements and areas of foreign influence.
Recent excavations at the site of Tell Atchana, ancient Alalakh, have clarified the presence of Iron Age periods. Despite being at the centre of these changes, the Late Bronze-Iron Age transition at Alalakh and in the Amuq remains poorly understood in terms of chronology and its social impact. A key question is the degree to which changes evident in the archaeological records should be credited to population movements or to the reorganization of social, economic and political structures by the local population. This paper considers the assemblage from a functional point of view to discuss any change or continuity in habits and actions evident from the Late Bronze Age to the Iron Age and during the Iron Age. In particular, this article aims to be a first attempt to propose a functional study of pottery from the Amuq Valley, thus linking the documentation of Northern Syria with that of Southern Anatolia. Furthermore, it will try to establish a set of morphological and physical characteristics of pottery vessels that, within limits, can be used to define how well suited particular vessels are to perform particular tasks.