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Download the program of the workshops

The 9th ICAANE will have fourteen workshops:

  1. 1. The Construction of Neolithic Corporate Identities
  2. 2. The Chronology of Transitional Periods from 3000-1000 BCE: Comparing Absolute Chronologies Based on 14C to Relative Chronologies Based on Material Culture
  3. 3. Desert Kites – Archaeological Facts, Distribution and Function
  4. 4. Artifacts made out of Bone and Related Materials: Manufacture, Typology and Use
  5. 5. Trajectories of complexity in Upper Mesopotamia: processes and dynamics of social complexity and their origin in the Halaf period
  6. 6. Collections at risk: sustainable strategies for managing Near Eastern archaeological collections
  7. 7. The Settlement Landscape of the Orontes Valley in the Fourth through Second Millennia BCE
  8. 8. Tracing Commemoration - Social Dimensions of the Past in the Past
  9. 9. Archaeology of the Negev and the 'Arabah during the Iron Age
  10. 10. Late Neolithic at Çatalhöyük in the Near Eastern context
  11. 11. Museums and the ancient Middle East: Exhibit practice and audiences
  12. 12. Elite Residences in the Hellenistic and Roman Near East
  13. 13. Ethnoarchaeology and experimental studies in Near Eastern archaeology
  14. 14. Irrigation and Water works in the Ancient Near East

1. The Construction of Neolithic Corporate Identities

Workshop Organisers: Trevor Watkins (University of Edinburgh), Marion Benz (University of Freiburg i. Br.) & Hans Georg K. Gebel (Free-University Berlin)

One of the most momentous thresholds in the longer-term evolution of human sociality was neolithisation - the transition from more flexible mobile foraging communities to sedentary and complex corporate societies. For too long Neolithic research has concentrated on the economic side of this transition, while the formation and maintenance of these early large-scale communities could not have developed without unprecedented cognitive and social capacities. More than ever before, in these sedentary milieus the human ability to perceive selectively, to memorize associatively, and to act in a collaborative way, evolved by steadily valorizing, symbolically charging and communicating practices, discourses, spaces and things, including building “traditions”. Corporate identities in the Near Eastern Late Epipalaeolithic and Neolithic were not only formed and sustained by commonly accepted tangible things (images, paraphernalia, practices etc.), they were also promoted and transformed by intangible modes, codes and ideological concepts.
The workshop aims to identify and translate the empirical evidence of the different intangibles that helped to form Epipalaeolithic and Neolithic group identities. One of the approaches might be the concept of (inter-)mediality by which cognitive competences behind  corporate strategies can be identified. In addition to prehistoric archaeologists, the workshop invites contributions from specialists in evolutionary and cognitive sciences.

Contact: T.Watkins-at-ed.ac.uk

2. The Chronology of Transitional Periods from 3000-1000 BCE: Comparing Absolute Chronologies Based on 14C to Relative Chronologies Based on Material Culture

Workshop Organisers: Felix Höflmayer (University of Chicago) & Elisabetta Boaretto (Weizmann Institute)

As chronology is the backbone of history, secure absolute dates are a prerequisite for understanding political history, trade and cultural interconnections in the Ancient Near East. For a long time chronology was based on changes in the material culture and synchronization with historical chronologies of Egypt and Mesopotamia. Even 60 years after the development of radiocarbon dating, relative chronologies of the Levant, Anatolia, Cyprus and the Aegean are the common basic chronological models used for writing history.
However, in the last decades a major change has taken place based on integrating field work, quality control on the datable material and improvement in radiocarbon dating analysis. This new approach has resulted in high resolution absolute chronologies for certain periods that in turn raise fundamental questions about timing of events, synchronization with historical chronologies, and reliability of material culture changes for absolute dates and diffusion of ideas, trade and so on. This in turn has resulted in some disagreements between traditional chronological models and radiocarbon dating. These differences, which can reach a few hundred years in some cases, occur in several chronological phases and may in part be attributed to the different methodological approaches to absolute dating between science and humanities, a difference that should be addressed in the proposed workshop.
In this workshop we would like to present the current state of research in chronology from the Early Bronze Age down to the Iron Age, both from a scientific as well as from an archaeological point of view in order to detect agreements as well as disagreements. Field archaeologists, epigraphers and radiocarbon experts will be invited to give state of the art research results regarding the chronologies in the Near East region between the 3rd and 1st millennium BC. This would provide new research directions for students and all scholars.

Contact: fhoeflmayer-at-uchicago.edu

3. Desert Kites – Archaeological Facts, Distribution and Function

Workshop Organiser: Ueli Brunner (University of Zurich)

Research on Desert Kites has intensified during the last years. These large stone structures are now known from many parts of the Arabian Peninsula, the Levant and Syria but also from Central Asia. They appear in a great variety of forms. Common to all are two or more long stonewalls converging towards an enclosure. Their function is still highly debated. Some scholars see them as hunting traps whereas others think them to be suitable to collect semidomesticated animals.
The desert kites are the most spectacular remains of a long forgotten culture at the fringe of the desert. It is time to give this culture the status it deserves. The discussion about the controversial ideas of the function of desert kites will help to understand the economy of these cultures.
The workshop is a unique possibility to bring together the leading scientists working on the subject.

Contact: ueli_brunner-at-bluewin.ch

4. Artifacts made out of Bone and Related Materials: Manufacture, Typology and Use

Workshop Organisers: Hermann Genz (American University of Beirut) & Canan Çakιrlar (University of Groningen)

Artifacts made out of materials of faunal origin (bone, ivory, horn, antler, mollusc shell, etc.) are commonly encountered in excavations in the Ancient Near East. While some groups of artifacts, such as ivory carvings or engraved Tridacna shells have received considerable attention, mainly because of their artistic significance, more mundane, yet more abundant objects such as tools and simple jewelry have often been neglected. To address this imbalanced situation, we would like to organize a workshop focusing on artifacts made of bone and related materials from the Ancient Near East from the Neolithic to the Islamic Period.

The discussion will focus on the following aspects:
- Identification of raw materials and manufacturing methods (including possible workshop remains)
- Retrieval practices on the excavation (how, when and by whom are artifacts identified? Especially ad-hoc tools with limited alterations may only be identified through a detailed faunal study)
- Exchange in raw materials or finished items (ivory, shells)
- Typology and chronology of specific artifact categories
- Functional aspects (including use-wear studies)
- Contextual discussion

Contact: hg09-at-aub.edu.lb

5. Trajectories of complexity in Upper Mesopotamia: processes and dynamics of social complexity and their origin in the Halaf period

Workshop Organisers: Marco Iamoni (University of Udine) & Salam Al Quntar (University of Pennsylvania)

Upper Mesopotamia has been seen until a few decades ago as a region that underwent passive processes of complexity which originated in Lower Mesopotamia. Yet, recent archaeological research has demonstrated that complexity was developing in Lower and Upper Mesopotamia at comparable rates. This reconstruction is based, however, on a patchy understanding of the dynamics affecting Upper Mesopotamia throughout the 7th-4th millennia BC: most of the data comes actually from the Upper Euphrates and the Syrian Jezirah, whereas the Upper Tigris has been so far only very marginally considered.
Furthermore, the study of such transformation has been based on the analysis of the Ubaid and LC materials, somehow underestimating the importance of the “wider perspective”, i.e. the integration of previous periods, within longer developmental processes.
The scope of this workshop is thus to focus on the processes of complexity from a wider standpoint, that takes into account the dynamics that started already in the Halaf period and continued throughout the Ubaid and the LC in Upper Mesopotamia. Participants are invited to present papers that re-discuss the roots of such processes from multiple standpoints (material cultural, settlement pattern, regionalisation, urbanisation, specialisation and exchange), so that longer trends of complexity may be properly recognized and discussed.

Contact: marco.iamoni-at-uniud.it

6. Collections at risk: sustainable strategies for managing Near Eastern archaeological collections

Workshop Organiser: Andrew Jamieson, University of Melbourne

This workshop addresses a crucial but often ignored aspect of Near Eastern archaeology: the sustainable management of increasing numbers of archaeological collections. Every archaeological collection is at risk, not only from warfare or civil unrest, but from natural elements such as earthquakes, fire and floods, and from inevitable decay due to climatic conditions or neglect. The workshop aims to share views and raise awareness about archaeological collections management in the Near East as the cultural heritage of this region continues to be threatened by ongoing instability and conflict. Discussion will consider short, medium and long-term approaches to archaeological collections management. In the short-term, the care of archaeological collections during periods of instability and in conflict zones is acknowledged as a high priority requiring urgent attention and needing an immediate response. In the mid-term, there is a need to assess the significance of archaeological collections and develop criteria in order to prioritise available resources to deal with the continuing influx of artefacts into repositories. In the long-term, there is an on-going necessity to develop strategies for sustainably managing archaeological collections in the future, considering access and use, and improving collections management practices. The workshop will stimulate an exchange of ideas and perspectives on the issues involved in Near Eastern archaeological collections management, with a view towards articulating sustainable strategies for the management of Near Eastern archaeological collections.

Contact: asj-at-unimelb.edu.au

7. The Settlement Landscape of the Orontes Valley in the Fourth through Second Millennia BCE

Workshop Organisers: Melissa Kennedy (University of Sydney) & Stephen Bourke (University of Sydney)

In the context of developing urban life and economic interaction in the northern Levant in the Proto-historic periods, the Orontes Valley is often characterised as a ‘land between’ the better-known coastal entrepot and the dense settlement landscapes of the Euphrates and its tributaries. Often covered by summaries of ‘Inland West Syria’, the particular characteristics of the Orontes Valley settlement landscape are obscured (if not ignored entirely) by a focus on the spectacular discoveries at Ebla and more recently at Qatna.
This workshop seeks to foreground the role of smaller–scale settlements in the Orontes Valley in the developing inter-regional interaction of the Third Millennium BCE. It aims to identify key networks of inter-action, and evaluate their varying intensities over time. The workshop will also seek to explore the varying effects of the peripheral ‘mega-sites’ on the smaller settlements of the Orontes Valley. Finally, we will consider the importance of inter-regional trading networks – how they were created, maintained, and the consequences of their disruption.
Ultimately we hope to re-assess the varying importance of the Proto-historic Orontes Valley settlement landscape within its Syrian regional and Levantine inter-regional context.

Themes/Questions to be addressed in this Workshop
- The settlement landscape of the Orontes catchment
- Integration of sequences/identification of key settlement phases
- Material cultural markers and relative chronology
- Defining sub-regional settlement 'clusters'
- Identifying networks of communication and interaction
- Assessing the varying role of nomads in networks
- Inter-regional interaction before, during and after the Eblaite state
- Defining transitional horizons

Contact: melissa.kennedy-at-sydney.edu.au

8. Tracing Commemoration - Social Dimensions of the Past in the Past

Workshop Organisers: Sarah Lange (University of Tübingen) & Aaron Schmitt (University of Mainz)

To approach the topic of Commemoration in the Ancient Near East (ANE) several general questions need to be asked: What did people in the ANE commemorate? What were the criteria for their choices? For what purpose did they commemorate? By what means did they commemorate – did they use objects and/or places? How did the ways the people in the ANE chose for commemoration depend on the subject that was honored? And thus, are we able to trace these acts of commemoration and how?
To substantiate the expressed questions we constrain the topic to two aspects: The commemoration of the deceased and the commemoration of historical personages, deeds and events. Concerning the first matter, it has to be asked whether the memory of deceased members of a social formation (from small groups such as the family to larger social groups and the whole ‘society’) was kept alive purposefully; if so, why and by what means? How did the commemoration of the dead change over time? And, connecting this key issue with the matter of historical commemoration: How were kings commemorated and how can the commemoration of the king as a deceased be differentiated from a commemoration of the king as a historical personage? How and to what extent were objects used to remember historical events, historical places and historical personages? Was there a deliberate choice concerning what was remembered? Who made these choices? In which dimensions do we have to visualize the act of commemoration? And finally, could the act of commemoration have different connotations (negative/positive)?
With regard to the two key issues we are going to address these questions in our workshop on the basis of well documented and self-contained contexts as well as objects coming from those. The cuneiform sources are another crucial element that can contribute to the answers we seek for. Additionally we would like to draw upon theoretical concepts developed in other disciplines – after a thorough investigation concerning their viability – to fill the gaps that exist in the archaeological and textual data and to help us explain our evidence.
We are convinced that a workshop is one of the best formats to bring together different scientists who can contribute to answer these questions from their individual perspective and can help us to trace the social dimensions of commemoration in the ANE.

Contact: sarah.lange-at-uni-tuebingen.de

9. Archaeology of the Negev and the 'Arabah during the Iron Age

Workshop Organiser: Gunnar Lehmann (Ben-Gurion University)

The workshop will be concerned with recent research on the archaeology of the Negev, 'Arabah and Arabia during the early Iron Age. The idea is to discuss settlement, trade and subsistence strategies with special emphasis on issues such as trade with the Arabian peninsula, the copper production in the 'Arabah and the phenomenon of Qurayya Ware (“Midianite pottery”). The presentation of recent archaeological research will shed new light on these questions.

Contact: gunnar.lehmann-at-gmail.com

10. Late Neolithic at Çatalhöyük in the Near Eastern context

Workshop Organisers: Arkadiusz Marciniak (Poznań University) & Lech Czerniak (Gdańsk University)

The session organizers have been conducting intense study of the upper Late Neolithic strata of the East mound at Çatalhöyük. These works have brought about a series of new discoveries that shed light onto hitherto unknown developments in the final phase of the settlement occupation.
Late Neolithic houses comprise a series of small, cell-like spaces, probably used for storage and working areas, surrounding a larger central 'living room'. They show a significantly lesser degree of symbolic elaboration. The most significant changes in burial practices involved a lack of intramural burials, which were replaced by a special burial architecture. Considerable changes occurred also in subsistence practices, including procurement, storage, processing and consumption of different resources.
The session seeks to put up these developments in the second half of the 7th millennium cal BC in a broader Near Eastern context. In particular, we intent to examine parallels and discrepancies in the process of disappearance of Neolithic megasities in the light of new discoveries in other areas of the Near East. Accordingly, by putting up Late Neolithic Çatalhöyük in a broad regional context, the session will facilitate an in-depth discussion on social, economic and ideological changes taking place at the end of Neolithic and beginning of Chalcolithic.

Contact: arekmar-at-amu.edu.pl

11. Museums and the ancient Middle East: Exhibit practice and audiences

Workshop Organisers: Lucas Petit (National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden) & Geoff Emberling (Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, University of Michigan)

Museums represent one of the major ways the ancient Middle East is presented to the general public, collectively reaching millions of visitors each year. This was already noticed by Shanks and Tilley (1987) some 25 years ago. The increasing public prominence of museums since then and the concurrent proliferation of programs of museum studies are further indications of the opportunities presented by museum exhibits.
Current practices of exhibiting the ancient Middle East are structured and constrained in different ways in different museum contexts and cultural settings, yet there has been a nearly complete absence of formal discussion about exhibitions among ancient Near East curators and scholars.
This session will provide a first opportunity for an international group of museum curators to discuss opportunities and tensions in exhibiting art, histories, and cultures of the ancient Middle East. Opportunities may include varied ways of connecting with different audiences and interests; tensions may include differing approaches to the past taken by art museums, history museums, national museums, and university museums, or the roles of curators, educators, and audiences in constructing exhibitions.

Contact: L.Petit-at-RMO.NL

12. Elite Residences in the Hellenistic and Roman Near East

Workshop Organisers: Stephan G. Schmid (Berlin), Zbigniew T. Fiema (Berlin/Helsinki), Piotr Biewnkowski (Manchester) & Bernhard Kolb (Basel)

A particular result of the symbiosis of old and new traditions is represented by elite residences (palaces, villae) in the Near East. Between the conquests of Alexander the Great and the Later Roman Period, the area under consideration witnessed the appearance of spectacular residences which feature both the old elements of Near Eastern architectural traditions as well as "new" elements, mostly deriving from such structures as the Argead palaces at Aigai and Pella in Macedonia. The specific arrangement and combination of these elements may be purely fashionable but may also point to some specific functional considerations.
This workshop addresses the question of elite residences in the Near East, concentrating on the few known structures in Judea and Transjordan, associated with Herod the Great and the Nabataean kings. Topics will include general plans, landscape designs, interior decoration, building traditions used, the elusive issue of the ‘quality’ of materials and construction, and best specific parallels from elsewhere in the Mediterranean. In order to widen the scope of discussion, selected complexes of funerary architecture will also be added in order to ascertain the relations between the architecture of the living and the architecture of the dead in the elite context.

Contact: stephan.g.schmid-at-culture.hu-berlin.de

13. Ethnoarchaeology and experimental studies in Near Eastern archaeology

Workshop Organiser: Ruth Shahack-Gross (Weizmann Institute of Science)

Ethnoarchaeological and experimental research are two types of actualistic studies that bridge an important gap between the present and the past. Such studies are often used by archaeologists as they focus on material remains and thus provide a means for interpretation of archaeological material remains related to cooking, subsistence practices, activity areas, production processes (e.g., of metals, of ceramics), and ideological and ritual aspects of human activities.
Traditionally, such actualistic studies (especially ethnoarchaeology) stem from and relate to the anthropological schools of archaeological thought. They are therefore related mostly to prehistoric archaeology and rely heavily on macroscopic observations and interviews. In recent decades however, actualistic studies are being conducted more and more by archaeologists working in historical periods, and hence address many questions related to practices evident in historic periods only, such as a variety of pyrotechnological practices (baking, metal and glass production), urbanization, and more. Such practices, processes and materials that are typical of historic periods are especially relevant to Near Eastern archaeology.
In addition to the above, it is noted that methodological changes characterize Near Eastern actualistic studies. A new approach focused on materials and their microscopic traits in ethnoarchaeological contexts and experimental studies is developing in the last decade. To date, there is almost no discourse between these apparent three different types of actualistic studies: experimental, macro-ethnoarchaeology, and micro-ethnoarchaeology.
The aim of the proposed workshop is therefore to bring together the different types of actualistic studies carried out in the Near East in order to promote discussion of methodological and interpretational aspects of these studies, on all levels of observation (from macroscopic to microscopic) and all time periods. It is proposed that methodological aspects will be highlighted by presentations and discussion of method, theory and research design of actualistic studies, while interpretational aspects will be highlighted by presentations of case studies. The proposed program is therefore given below. Note that several researchers have already agreed to participate in this workshop.

The organizer is still accepting speakers to this workshop.

Contact: ruth.shahack-at-weizmann.ac.il

14. Irrigation and Water works in the Ancient Near East

Workshop Organiser: Seyed Abazar Shobairi (University of the Athens)

During the last few years the archaeology of irrigation and water supply has become a major topic in ancient Near Eastern studies. The lack of water as a result of insufficient precipitation made it essential for ancient historical empires to utilize hydraulic technologies to develop remarkable systems of water supply and irrigation management to deal with such aridity. Irrigation and water works played an important role in both rural and urban settlement in these ancient civilizations, particularly for the Achaemenid and Sassanid periods. Whereas some scholars have looked at urban water management, irrigation and water supply within the context of daily routines of life and their role in the settlement patterns, others see, for example, Achaemenid water systems providing evidence of interactions with the Classical Greece world.
The scope of this workshop will be upon the presentation of the most recent research on key aspects of irrigation and water distribution in the Near East especially for Achaemenid and Sassanid Persia. The workshop will bring together senior researchers working on the subject in order to assess the state of the field and identify new directions of research.

Contact: sshobairi-at-arch.uoa.gr