Under the direction of Dr. Richard Zettler, Mr. Richard Dante will collect data for his doctoral dissertation. Following preliminary field research in the area carried out over the last several years, Mr. Dante will conduct an archaeological survey of a region located in northern Syria along the east bank of the Euphrates river, ca. 65 km from the Turkish border. This upland hinterland is associated with the site of Tell se-Sweyhat which was occupied during the Early Bronze Age in the 3rd millennium BC. The site itself consists of a 14 meter high oval mound situated amid a rectangular lower tell. It covers ca. 45 hectares and documents the rise of an urban way of life in the Near East. At a nearby satellite community situated at a lower elevation near the Euphrates river Mr. Dante has discovered numerous storage silos and botanical analysis suggests that they contained winter feed for livestock. These results, together with ethnographic counterparts, suggest a system of seasonal pastoral transhumance with livestock moved to the uplands to graze during summer and then down to riverine locations to feed on stored silage during winter months of the year. To test this model, Mr. Dante needs to search for upland sites and this forms the focus of the proposed research. Mr. Dante and his colleagues will rely on detailed analysis of satellite photographs to locate promising archaeological areas. These will then be surveyed and sites located will be plotted and mapped in detail. Surface materials will be collected to allow ceramic dating. With this information it should then be possible to combine upland and lowland data to reconstruct a year round settlement pattern. In both prehistoric as well as modern times marginal rainfall conditions has made dry water farming in northern Syria extremely risky and archaeologists wish to understand how complex urban societies developed in a seemingly unlikely area. Mr. Dante believes that pastoralism which is adapted to environmental uncertainly played a crucial role and that civilization developed on this base. This project will provide data needed to evaluate this hypothesis. It will also assist in training a promising young scientist.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS)
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John E. Yellen
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University of Pennsylvania
United States
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