Uni-Tübingen

A 04

The Development of Palace-ResourceCultures in Syria

Academic Discipline

Near Eastern Archaeology,

Scientific Archaeology

Project Management

Pfälzner, Peter, Prof. Dr.

Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

Institut für die Kulturen des Alten Orients (IANES)

Schloss Hohentübingen

Burgsteige 11

72070 Tübingen

telephone: +49 7071 29 78530

e-mail: peter.pfaelznerspam prevention@uni-tuebingen.de

 

Pernicka, Ernst, Prof. Dr.

Universität Heidelberg

Curt-Engelhorn-Zentrum Archäometrie GmbH

D5, Museum Weltkulturen

68159 Mannheim

telephone: +49 621 293 8946

e-mail: ernst.pernickaspam prevention@cez-archaeometrie.de

PhD candidates
and Postdocs

Herdt, Simon, M.A.

SFB 1070 RessourcenKulturen

Gartenstr. 29

Raum 313

72074 Tübingen

Telefonnummer: +49 7071 29 73592

E-Mail-Adresse: simon.herdtspam prevention@uni-tuebingen.de

The project studies the importance of resources for the social and cultural development of small and middle sized states in Syria during the Middle and Late Bronze Age (2000–1200 BC). The Syrian palace systems or ‘palace economies’ used to be regarded in research as primarily economically functioning households. In contrast to this view it will be explored how these states have actively used resources in order to construct cultural identity, political ideology and power, social integration, interregional communication and internal as well as external networks. In this way the traditional model of ‘palace economies’ is to be replaced by a newly developed model of ‘Syrian Palace-ResourceCultures’. During the first phase of funding gold as a resource was in the focus of the project. Its constituent role and significance for the palace systems was elaborated by an archaeological and philological analysis. It became apparent that the available amount of the resource gold during the 2nd mill. BC was too small to allow for practices like ‘conspicuous consumption’. On the contrary, a sparing, multimodal use of gold for very specific purposes can be observed. Gold served to enhance effects of political representation, communication and legitimation, showing that it was a first-rate resource of systemic importance. Gold was a central part of an extensive ResourceComplex combining technological, socio-political, symbolic and cultural resources within the Palace-ResourceCulture of ancient Syria. Another result of the project during its first phase of funding was the recognition that gold as a resource was closely linked to the ResourceComplexes silver and bronze within the palace systems. This can be proved both by function and technology. For example many gold objects from Qaṭna show high percentages of cupellated silver, indicating an intentional mixing of both metals, or a coating of silver objects with gold. Therefore, in the second phase of funding the ResourceComplexes silver and bronze will by the centre of research interest. To this end, a second, scientific-archaeological oriented focus was added, in order to comprehensively investigate how these ResourceComplexes were linked technologically as well as culturally. The cultural oriented part of the project will study the archaeological and philological sources from Qaṭna and compare them to those from other major Middle to Late Bronze Age palace centres of Syria (Ebla, Mari, Ugarit, Byblos and Kamid el-Loz) to shed light on the contexts, the functions and the socio-political importance of bronze and silver objects in the palaces. The accompanying scientific-archaeological study will apply geo-chemical and metallographical analyses to Late Bronze Age silver and bronze as well as mixed-metal (silver and gold) objects from Qaṭna, samples of which are in considerable number (ca. 500) available in Tübingen. The close integration of both strands of research aims at a new understanding of the ResourceComplexes silver and bronze within the ancient Syrian Palace-ResourceCultures. The results will be compared to those from the first phase of funding in workshops. On this basis a new picture of the socio-political role and the cultural significance of metals in the palaces of ancient Syria will emerge.