Of highland-lowland borderlands: local societies and foreign power in the Zagros-Mesopotamian interface

Glatz, C. and Casana, J. (2016) Of highland-lowland borderlands: local societies and foreign power in the Zagros-Mesopotamian interface. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 44(Part A), pp. 127-147. (doi: 10.1016/j.jaa.2016.09.001)

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Narratives of civilization are spun from the juxtaposition of a civilized self with that of a barbarous other. Such an opposition is never more easily constructed than from the distinctiveness of lowland and mountain topographies, environments, and life-ways. Studies of highland-lowland relationships across different periods, places and disciplines also place the two realms in conceptual opposition and only rarely engage in depth with the interaction that must underwrite all negotiations of identity. We can trace the first attested construction of such a dichotomy in the texts and iconography that detail Mesopotamia’s interaction with the Zagros highlands in the later third and second millennia BCE. The recent opening of the Kurdish Region of north-east Iraq to international archaeological research now provides us with the opportunity to investigate Bronze Age communities located in transitional and highland landscapes and their relationships with the lowlands. In this paper we take a critical approach to the conceptualization of highland-lowland interaction in the past and in modern scholarship and formulate a bottom-up, archaeological approach for the investigation of highland-lowland encounters. Drawing on our recent work in the Upper Diyala/Sirwan river valley, we present crucial new settlement and material evidence, which challenges traditional interpretations of the region as a homeland of mountain tribes and begin to write a more balanced, local account of socio-cultural development and external interaction between this borderland region and a series of Bronze Age imperial powers.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Glatz, Professor Claudia
Authors: Glatz, C., and Casana, J.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Archaeology
Journal Name:Journal of Anthropological Archaeology
ISSN (Online):1090-2686
Published Online:19 October 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc.
First Published:First published in Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 44(Part A): 127-147
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
615641Highland Encounters: Practice, Perception and Power in the Mountains of the Ancient Middle EastClaudia GlatzLeverhulme Trust (LEVERHULME)IAF-2014-019HU - ARCHAEOLOGY