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Durham e-Theses
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Early Urbanism in the Northern Fertile Crescent: A Comparison of Regional Settlement Trajectories and Millennial Landscape Change

LAWRENCE, DAN (2012) Early Urbanism in the Northern Fertile Crescent: A Comparison of Regional Settlement Trajectories and Millennial Landscape Change. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis investigates the development of urban centres in the Northern Fertile Crescent during the Late Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age and seeks to place this development in a wider context of landscape transformation over time. Settlement data from eight archaeological surveys covering a range of landscape types and environments are brought into a single interpretive framework, organised through a Geographical Information System (GIS). These surveys are enhanced through the use of satellite imagery, particularly Corona spy photography, to discover new sites both within and outside the boundaries of their original areas. Methods for the incorporation of this wide range of data are developed, including the use of concepts such as ‘certainty’ and ‘precision’ and techniques for the comparison of multiple chronological systems.
These new methods are used to undertake a multi-scalar examination of settlement trajectories from the 5th to the 3rd millennium. Two phases of urban development are evident, first in the Late Chalcolithic and then during the ‘second urban revolution’ (Akkermans and Schwartz 2003) in the later Early Bronze Age. Whilst the Late Chalcolithic centres emerged within dense landscapes of small settlements, urbanisation in the later Early Bronze Age was accompanied by the widespread incursion of settlement into a ‘zone of uncertainty’ on the margins of the steppe. It is argued that a combination of factors, including the shift from flax to wool as the raw material in textile production and the development of social institutions capable of bearing risks at a large scale, provided the incentive and the means for this expansion, and that this transformed the societies of the region as a whole. This phenomenon is then placed in the wider context of long-term landscape change. It is argued that differences in settlement histories across the region can account for variations in the preservation of the archaeological record.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Mesopotamia Archaeology, Urbanism, Landscape Archaeology, Fertile Crescent, Fragile Crescent
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Archaeology, Department of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:21 Dec 2012 10:02

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