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“A ceramic tale for three oikumenai” from the Qara Dagh area (Iraqi Kurdistan)

Abstract : About twelve years ago, by paraphrasing Charles Dickens, G. Stein and R. Özbal wrote a very inspiring article – “A tale of two oikumenai” – about Ubaid and Uruk origins and expansions. Later, a third main “oikumene” in Ancient Near Eastern history is represented by the emergence of the first empires. Since 2015, the French archaeological mission in the Qara Dagh area (Sulaymaniyah Province, Iraqi Kurdistan) offers new and unsuspected information about these three dynamics of contact between southern and northern Mesopotamia. The ceramic analysis suggests a reassessment of the emergence of these three global phenomena picturing a multifaceted image of relations between the North and the South as far as mobility of things and people, respective technical identities as well as modalities of their cultural and economic contacts. The analysis of the ceramic chaînes opératoires in their spatial contexts allowed us to encompass the stylistic approach in a more comprehensive procedure aiming at recognizing distinct technical traditions and, therefore, the underlying groups of producers, with their specificities and reciprocal relations. Each “oikumene” constitutes a historical process characterized by its own mechanisms. But simplistic dichotomies between northern and southern people or “cultures” appear to be misleading and ineffective to describe intricate realities that, since the very beginning of the proto-urban phase, never evolve in a separate way. In this sense, compared to the better-known western portion of the Mesopotamian alluvium (the Euphrates basin), the region east of the Tigris river seems to question the traditional schematic division between North and South.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-03088463
Contributor : Johnny Samuele Baldi <>
Submitted on : Saturday, December 26, 2020 - 2:37:45 PM
Last modification on : Sunday, December 27, 2020 - 3:22:36 AM

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Johnny Baldi, Melania Zingarello. “A ceramic tale for three oikumenai” from the Qara Dagh area (Iraqi Kurdistan). Proceedings of the ICE1 (International Congress The East), Brussels Royal Museum of Art and History, 16th-18th April 2019, Brepols, In press. ⟨halshs-03088463⟩

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