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Wind, Water and Walls: Developing Luminescence and Geoarchaeological Methods for Ancient Landscape Features

SNAPE, LISA,MARIE (2018) Wind, Water and Walls: Developing Luminescence and Geoarchaeological Methods for Ancient Landscape Features. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The Sasanian Empire (224 - 624 AD) covered a vast geographical area, which expanded from Mesopotamia and Southern Iran into Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Arabian Peninsula. Its highly organised socio-political and military system enabled the foundation of new urban centres, intensification of agricultural land and expansion of trade networks into farfetched regions such as India and China. One impressive aspect of the Sasanian Empire was its ability to construct and maintain complex large-scale irrigation systems, which required a significant labour force to construct. Recent investigations of the northern and southern frontiers by the Persia and its Neighbours Project have identified a wealth of evidence for Sasanian landscape investment. Irrigation systems such as surface canals and channels, and underground aqueducts (qanats) were the most prominent features identified in the lowland regions, while in the uplands, agricultural terraces and field systems dominated.

The aim of this thesis was to draw upon landscape survey methodologies, combining luminescence and geoarchaeological techniques, to gain a better understanding of the timing of construction, maintenance and abandonment of key landscape features. The main methodological issues raised during this research were the complex taphonomy and landscape alterations that occur in many research areas, thus requiring intensive landscape survey, small-scale excavation and testing of samples to identify sites with the best potential for further investigation.

The results of the combined luminescence and geoarchaeological methodology have demonstrated the complex formation histories of Sasanian irrigation systems. The cleaning and maintenance events identified in upcast mounds, revealed important indicators for human-environment interactions at the frontiers. The demise of the Sasanian Empire did not result in the abandonment and collapse of these irrigation systems. Alternatively, canals were maintained into the Early Islamic period, suggesting 'continuity' rather than 'collapse' of key elements of Sasanian society.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Sasanian Empire, optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating, geoarchaeology, landscape archaeology
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Archaeology, Department of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:26 Jul 2018 09:44

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