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DFG Project "Beyond the Crisis"

Feb 01, 2017 — Jan 31, 2020

Beyond the Crisis. Continuity, transformation and innovation in the development of the Anatolian societies at the turn of 1st Millennium BCE: a case-study in the Upper Euphrates region

The project aims at examining and contextualizing the circumstances that have affected the Turkish Upper Euphrates region between the 13th and the 10th c. BCE. From a historical point of view, this period is characterized in ancient Anatolia by the fall of the Hittite Empire, and followed by a more or less prolonged phase lacking historical records, known as a Dark Age. The latter has been usually labeled as a crisis era, given its widespread traits of political and economic instability leading to profound social transformations. This definition is being currently reconsidered in the light of the results obtained through the synergy between archaeological, textual and scientific data, that have allowed the research to focus mostly on the understanding of the evolutionary processes and dynamics of interactions characterizing the societies involved in these phenomena. The research aims are pursued by analysing the up-to-date and original records coming from the site of Arslantepe (modern Malatya, Turkey) and its surrounding territory. The main purpose is to build a comprehensive picture of the cultural evolution processes, transformation and re-organization of the Upper Euphrates societies following the break-down of the Hittite Empire. The project intends to analyse and understand the continuous use and slow re-elaboration of elements and aspects of the Hittite-imperial tradition into the post-Hittite era. A systematic analysis of artifacts, architecture and samples brought to light by the new excavations at Arslantepe, allows to determine the development of the material culture, and to fix the relative and absolute chronology of the site. Through the integration of interdisciplinary approaches, various facets of the society during this transitional period are also inspected, such as administration and means of production, as well as sovereignty and ideology. The elaboration of the data is supported with a comprehensive and critical re-evaluation of the textual and art history sources from the site and its territory and compared with similar cases studies from the Syro-Anatolian region. The complete review of the sculptures coming from the old explorations, including an in-depth iconographical and stylistic analysis of scenes, themes and figures engraved on the blocks, as well as their associated inscriptions, contributes to point the research towards more theoretical fields, gaining a better understanding of the ideological messages concealed behind these forms of expression of power. A comprehensive picture of the Upper Euphrates region during the last centuries of the 2nd Millennium BCE will be thus depicted in order to clarify, through the re-evaluation of the whole set of archaeological and art history materials, absolute dating, as well as historical sources, the evolutionary processes which took place in the area during the final-Hittite and post-Hittite periods.

Institution: Institut für Altorientalistik
Project Leader: Dr. Federico Manuelli
Funded by: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
Duration: 2017-02-01 - 2020-01-30