Beyond the mound: locating complexity in Northern Mesopotamia during the 'Second Urban Revolution'
Chaves Yates, Caitlin Jane
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In this dissertation, I investigate the organization of urban activities in Early Bronze Age cities of Northern Mesopotamia. I combine evidence from archaeological survey, magnetometric studies, 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," a conclusion at odds with 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. I identify nine individual components of urbanism within third-millennium cities: city walls, water resources, roads and streets, agricultural and pastoral land, houses, workshops, temples and shrines, burials, and administrative buildings. The spatial distribution suggests regular correlations between certain components, particularly houses/workshops, houses/burials, city walls/administrative buildings, and extramural workshops/roads. This overall pattern 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. Single-function areas often occur alongside other activity or mixed-use areas. I found the distribution of activities to be similar across cities, despite variations in overall layout and size. Widespread co-occurrence, especially of houses and workshops, indicates a kind of "dual economy" of elite and non-elite production, with lower-class inhabitants producing their own lithics, ceramics, and agricultural/pastoral products. Furthermore, although large temples and palaces are located in city centers, the existence of smaller shrines and non-domestic buildings in lower towns indicates that religious and administrative functions also occurred beyond the city center. 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.