Caitlin Chaves Yates deposited Beyond the Mound: Locating Complexity in Northern Mesopotamia during the ‘Second Urban Revolution’ in the group Ancient Near East on Humanities Commons 2 years, 7 months ago
I investigate the organization of urban activities in Early Bronze Age cities of Northern Mesopotamia. I combine evidence from archaeological survey, magnetometry, and excavations to demonstrate that cities were broadly integrated in terms of function and use of space: inhabitants in outer cities, lower towns, and extramural areas all pursued a range of diverse activities. The organization of urban life in Northern Mesopotamia is best described as “distributed,” in contrast to the prevailing belief that public institutions were concentrated in city centers and outer city areas were solely residential. I analyze new excavations and surveys from two major cities—Tell Mozan and Tell Chuera—and compare those remains with information from other excavated cities across third-millennium BCE Northern Mesopotamia. The spatial distribution reveals multifunctional neighborhoods with a range of ceremonial, domestic, and production-related activities situated within the stable boundaries of city walls, water courses, and major roads. I found the distribution of activities to be similar across cities, despite variations in overall layout and size. The surveys and excavations illuminate two important patterns: first, that administrative, productive, and religious activities took place throughout the city; and second, that social rank did not preclude the pursuit of a range of activities. The stability afforded by this broadly integrated organization and heterarchical social organization may have been instrumental in a city’s longevity.