Regional organization in the Aegean Bronze Age and Near East: A comparative study of three regions, the Amuq Valley, the Upper Pediada, and Messenia
Buell, David M.
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This dissertation is a comparative study of socio-political and economic organization and change in three eastern Mediterranean Bronze Age polities, Alalakh in the Amuq Valley in southern Turkey/northern Syria (Middle Bronze Age II, 1730-1650 BC, and Late Bronze Age I/IIA, 1460-1370), Galatas in the Upper Pediada in Crete (Middle Minoan III, 1700-1600 BC), and Pylos in Messenia on the Greek mainland (Late Helladic IIIA-IIIB, 1390-1180 BC). In this work, I challenge traditional interpretations of Mediterranean Bronze Age polities, which advocate that these polities were similarly organized in hierarchical and centralized ways. I employ a diachronic approach, integrating data from three distinct levels, central places, broader regions, and textual information when available (Alalakh and Pylos) in order to examine how these polities were organized and how this changed over time. More specifically, I investigate the primary urban settlement (Alalakh, Galatas, and Pylos) of each of the three regions in order to develop some understanding of the services and features concentrated within them and how these may have influenced the day-to-day lives of both urban dwellers and those living within the hinterlands. In addition, I consider how political agents planned and used the built environments of these settlements as a means of propagating messages concerned with status and to integrate community members. I then extend the scope of the analysis to the level of the region using settlement pattern and landscape data to determine how settlements within a regional system interacted politically, socially, and economically with one another. My research reveals that the Bronze Age Amuq Valley, Upper Pediada, and Messenia were organized in variable and diverse ways. The central authorities of these three regions employed a number of different political strategies of rule from those that were hierarchical in nature to those that were more decentralized and heterarchical in order to govern effectively.