11th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East

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Workshop Coppini/Palermo/Pappalardo/Pierobon-Benoit

“Dark Ages”? Identifying Markers of Transition in Mesopotamia and the Near East on a Diachronic Scale

Organizers: Costanza Coppini (Udine University) / Rocco Palermo (Groningen) / Raffaella Pappalardo (University of Naples) /Raffaella Pierobon Benoit (University of Naples)


Chronological interstices and transitional periods pose multiple questions to the reconstruction of the ancient world history. The lack of recognizable data influences our understanding of these specific phases, and as consequence scholars tend to label these as pre- or post-something. This is particularly evident in Mesopotamia and the Near East where the abundance of multi-period sites has inevitably led to underestimate the relevance of somewhat archaeologically less-evident periods. Yet, these so-called transitional phases, when properly determined, show both traces of continuity with earlier periods and indications of later developments. Also, these periods offer unique insights into ideas of culture and community as people adjust their individual and group identities to change. This is particularly crucial for those periods that witnessed a strong relationship between different cultures manifested through the evidence of material culture hybridization and memory preservation. Thus, pairing causes of changes to archaeological markers of variation might help to determine the importance of these dark ages on the longue durée. The workshop aims to discuss the topic with a particular interest to the diachronic approach from the Bronze Age to the Islamic period through variations in settlement patterns, resource exploitation, material culture, and mostly in relation to social and political changes. We particularly welcome papers offering a case-study perspective, but also theoretical studies and new research trajectories.


Dominik Bonatz (Freie Universität Berlin)
Costanza Coppini (Department of Humanistic Studies and Cultural Heritage, Udine University)
Sebastian Haidler (Leopold Franzens Universität, Innsbruck)
Elisabeth Katzy (Tell Halaf Project/Near East Museum, Berlin)
Johannes Koehler (Freie Universität Berlin)
Karel Nováček (Palacký University Olomouc)
Raffaella Pappalardo (University of Naples, Federico II)
Cinzia Pappi (University of Innsbruck)
Raffaella Pierobon Benoit (University of Naples, Federico II)
Valentina Vezzoli (University of Venice Ca' Foscari)


9:15 Raffaella Pierobon Benoit: Introduction
9:30 Costanza Coppini: Introduction to the problematic of transitions in the Second and First Millennium BC in the history of studies
10:00 Dominik Bonatz: Tell Fekheriye in the Late Bronze Age: Markers of Cultural Demarcation and Social Identification During Periods of Change
10:30 Sebastian Haidler/Cinzia Pappi: Between Assyria and Adiabene: Cultural Transitions in the Valley of the Lower Zab
11:00 Coffee break
11:30 Raffaella Pierobon Benoit: Settlement changes in Tell Barri (VI-IV century B.C.)
12:00 Johannes Koehler: De-marginalising Seleucid populace: Towards an archaeology of consumption
12:30 Discussion
13:00 Lunch break
14:00 Raffaella Pappalardo: Transition or not transition? Identifying the early Islamic pottery assemblage in Northern Mesopotamia. An overview from Tell Barri (Syria)
14.30 Valentina Vezzoli: The Early Islamic Period in Kurdistan/Iraq: clues and limitations in ceramic analysis
15:00 Karel Nováček: A pottery stasis within a social transformation? A case of the early-Islamic-period ceramics in North-eastern Mesopotamia
15:30 Final Discussion and Concluding Remarks