With National Science Foundation support, Dr. Timothy Matney and his colleagues will conduct archaeological fieldwork in a domestic habitation area within the Early Bronze Age city of Titris Hoyuk in southeastern Turkey. Analysis of the recovered artifactual, ecofactual and economic data will continue through 2001. The Early Bronze Age (ca. 2600-2100 BC) saw the emergence of numerous urban polities across much of the near Eastern "Fertile Crescent." This emergence set into motion patterns of city life and social relations that ultimately form much of the basis for the urban tradition of western civilization. Yet understanding of how this process developed is far from complete. To a great degree archaeological work on early Near Eastern cities has focused on temple and palace areas at the very core of those centers and has ignored the much more extensive areas of domestic habitation at their periphery. As a result, scientists still lack substantial data for the nature of household economies and social organization, and understanding of these units is essential for reconstructing how these cities functioned. Dr. Matney and colleagues will excavate a single well-preserved domestic residence to test current models of household economy and social organization in ancient Mesopotamia. Previous subsurface magnetic mapping at Titris Hoyuk has provided a fairly high resolution map of primary architectural features within the city. This has allowed the location of an area of well-preserved architectural remains which, based on their size, orientation and morphology are almost certainly domestic residences. The team will focus on a detailed examination of the contents of approximately fifteen rooms in a single discrete large residential building. Recovered paleobotanical, paleofaunal, phytolith, microdebris and residual organic materials associated with room floor and features will be analyzed. With these data it will then be possible to study patterns of resource production and consumption at a household level. Dr. Matney will test the largely undemonstrated assumption that domestic life throughout Mesopotamian cities was organized around extended households operating within a economic climate dominated by great redistributive systems run through temple and palace organizations.

By concentrating efforts on non-elite residential areas of a major site, this project will illuminate the nature of household organization, production and consumption practices. It will correct the biased current understanding of ancient economic systems in Mesopotamia which is reconstructed largely from cuneiform texts and village ethnographies. The work will provide archaeologists with a more holistic picture of ancient urbanism in Mesopotamia, allowing for comparisons with theoretical models of urban genesis derived from other regions and time periods.

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