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Synchronizations and Synchronicities as Historical and Archaeological Practice

Synchronization and synchronicity are topics poorly explored in the cultures of the Ancient Near East, although they both play a crucial role to investigate the emic perception of time and the scholarly definition of periodization in the history and archaeology of the Ancient Near East.

The Practices of Synchronization have been defined by Jordheim in his discussion on Progress within the methodology of Global History, as the conceptualization of multiple temporal layers linked to several aspects of cultural elements (Jordheim 2014, 498-505). The development of Practices of Synchronization well suit to the framework of the historiographic discussion of the past century dominated by the structuralism of the french École des Annales and its approach of the longue durée, the Conceptual History of Koselleck, and the theories of the Global History (Braudel 1949; Koselleck 1979; Hartog 2011; Jordheim 2017).

Ancient near eastern cultures in the 2nd millennium BCE, characterized by a strong multicultural nature and ruled by multiple socio-political entities, represent the perfect field to analyze the multilayered temporalities of Mesopotamia through the models provided by synchronization and synchronicities. The development of such a practice will represent an alternative exploration tool to investigate other periods and geographic contexts. The application of Practices of Synchronization to selected case studies of cultural temporalities of Mesopotamia in the 2nd millennium BCE will provide new perspectives in the analysis of the formation and the socio-political development of imperial states of the Ancient Near East, adding insights into the methodological approach to the analysis of the periodization in this area.

This two years exploration project (2023-2024) will investigate the temporal intersections of material production, urban fabric, and epigraphic data, characterizing the urban and rural centers of northern Syria and Iraq in the Middle and Late Bronze Age. The richness of the archaeological evidence linked to dated epigraphic data, referring to the policies, named (1) Kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia (1808-1776 BCE), (2) Mittani and (3) the Middle Assyrian state (ca. 1550-1250 BCE), reveals a complexity of multilayered temporalities, so far, not easily framed into a super-regional chronological scheme or into a homogeneous and linear time.

Aim of the project is to apply models of synchronization and synchronicities to these data, comparing a selection of representative sites that have been selected according (1) to their economic and political relevance within their cultural landscape, (2) to the reliability of their stratigraphic sequence, and (3) to the typology and the contexts of the textual evidence.


Aerial View of the site of Qala Shila (Erbil, Iraq) ©ASK Project

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