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The Organisation of Early Bronze Age Metalworking in the Southern Levant.
If you have previously obtained access with your personal account, Please log in. If you previously purchased this article, Log in to Readcube. Log out of Readcube. Click on an option below to access. Log out of ReadCube. Further, homogeneity among isotope values is indicative of a community that was not highly mobile, suggesting that decentralization and a corresponding transition to a more mobile lifestyle may not accurately reflect the adaptive strategies of all human groups during this period as a mechanism to cope with social and environmental change.
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Please review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article. Get access to the full version of this article. View access options below. You previously purchased this article through ReadCube. Surveys in bold provide sample site areas and densities, other surveys provide information for the urban dataset.
See S1 Appendix Sheet 1 for details. Estimates of urban areas were made using data from field surveys and archaeological excavations Fig 1 , supplemented by visual inspection of satellite imagery [ 27 , 28 ]. For this study all sites dating between the sixth and early second millennium BC greater than 10 ha in area were analyzed for the main study region S1 Appendix Sheet 2.
The vast majority of sites during this period were between 1 and 3 hectares in size [ 13 , 29 ], whilst there is a marked lack of sites of between 5 and 10 hectares in the surveys examined. We are therefore confident that sites over 10 hectares represent a different order of settlement. The settled areas of these were derived from a combination of historical sources and the archaeological record cross checked, where possible, against CORONA imagery from the s and high resolution images from and later.
Assembling the Iron Age Levant: The Archaeology of Communities, Polities, and Imperial Peripheries
Because urban site size and the number of larger sites increases through time, for this initial study the size threshold for inclusion in the second sample is set at hectares, corresponding to the size of the largest sites in the pre BC sample. The post BC cities are drawn from a larger spatial extent than the earlier sample because the size of the polities involved increases beyond that of the original study area. In some instances, such as the Middle- and Neo-Assyrian capitals, the urban centres remain within the northern Fertile Crescent but are situated in areas subject to far less recent research, meaning broader settlement trends are unavailable.
However, we have also included the large urban capitals of later polities situated in southern Mesopotamia and Turkey because they likely drew on the resources of the northern Fertile Crescent to facilitate urban expansion. The comparison of long term trends in archaeological settlement at a regional scale relies on the construction of a series of phases which have relatively distinct ceramic assemblages, underpinned by groups of C 14 dates which serve to relate the ceramically-defined periods to which survey data is usually assigned to absolute dates in years.
Because changes in ceramic types are not uniform across either space or time, local sequences are developed to date sites with higher levels of precision [ 30 , 31 , 32 , 33 ]. Comparing data at a regional level therefore requires the reintegration of these local phases into a single overarching framework. The solution applied here is to assign all ceramic phases used within individual surveys and sites start and end dates in years, drawing upon the most recent excavation data. By transforming these phases into a similar metric, we can display them graphically and model trends in site areas in a way which allows for visual comparisons to be made [ 34 , 35 ].
Importantly, this process is scalable, such that we can compare individual surveys, combinations of surveys and overall settlement trends by adding together data from different groups of sites. In this study both local and regional settlement data are displayed in a series of 'time slices' of years duration. The aggregate settlement figure for each time slice represents the combined area of all sites within the nine sample surveys which included ceramics securely dated to within that years.
The initial dataset, including all large sites dating from the sixth to the third millennia BC, captures both the first Late Chalcolithic c. Whereas the largest sites during the preceding Halaf and Ubaid phases do not exceed 20 ha, well-defined Late Chalcolithic centres of the initial urban cycle range up to 40—60 ha, with "plumes" or break-outs up to or even ha [ 27 ]—although the duration and density of settlement at the largest of these remains uncertain [ 36 ].
The second urban cycle comprises a large number of smaller cities of the mid third millennium BC which rarely exceed ha in area but again show occasional plumes above this figure Fig 2. The to ha figures apparent for sites of the period — BC conforms to a plateau in settlement size data for the region [ 37 , 38 ] and globally for large prehistoric agrarian settlements [ 11 ]. Note the maximum sizes of 20 ha — BC ; 40—60 ha — BC and ca. The second dataset is drawn from sites dated to post BC, and for simplicity we have only presented cities larger than ha, that is those which transcend the site size ceiling of the earlier dataset.
Initially urban site size remains relatively stable, with sites such as Qatna ha displaying a change in morphology in comparison to earlier cities but remaining within the — ha envelope. With the expansion of powerful regional polities such as the Middle Assyrian empire around BC, city size expanded rapidly, first with Kar Tukulti Ninurta ha and Erbil ha , and later with several Neo-Assyrian capitals, culminating with Nineveh in the 7th century BC ha.
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During the first millennium AD capital cities continued to grow, without apparent restraint, until the Abbasid era when Samarra and Baghdad attained areas of — and — ha respectively Fig 3. The green circles represent all sites over 10 hectares from — BC, red represents the dataset of urban sites over ha dating between BC and AD. Settlement data are expressed first for the western, central and eastern Fertile Crescent and second as a total for all areas summed together. Aggregate settlement densities for each region are important because they demonstrate that settlement trends vary regionally, in particular from west to east, and inform on the regionally specific socio-economic trends against which the development of largest sites must be understood.
For example, the pronounced increase in settlement density from the 3rd century BC to the 13th century AD visible in western Syria and southern Turkey is more muted in the Middle Euphrates, and is replaced by a relative decline for these same phases further east in the Jazira Fig 4.
When the combined settlement across all the surveys is plotted, the most obvious long-term trend is that of increased settled area and by inference population over time. The peaks and troughs that are apparent within the overall trend might correspond to episodes of cyclical growth and decline for long term population trends [ 39 ], but in the case of the Fertile Crescent they appear to result, at least in part, from the pulsating growth of cities which contribute to long-term settlement curves [ 14 , 15 ].
Analyses of the impact of climate change on human communities over time have been conducted at a variety of temporal scales. For the Near East, the existence of a connection between relatively short term phenomena such as the Younger Dryas or the 8. The latter is of some interest here because it has been specifically related to dramatic declines in levels of both urban and rural settlement [ 36 , 40 ]. Less has been said about long-term settlement trends in relation to climate proxy records, especially in relation to our main study region.
This is in part a result of the long-term pattern of low rainfall and consequent discontinuous sediment records from lakes or marshes, as well as the paucity of suitable caves for speleotherm sampling [ 43 ]. Here we present data from a range of proxy records for long term climate fluctuations located close to and within the study area, and illustrate the two closest, the varve sequence from Lake Van in south-eastern Turkey and speleotherm evidence from Soreq Cave in Israel, in Fig 5.
Lake Van is a large terminal lake in south eastern Turkey. Soreq Cave contains a continuous speleotherm record from ka to the present and has provided oxygen and carbon isotope records [ 44 ]. The published studies from the two records identify the following broad trends in atmospheric moisture:.
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Black dots indicate sites within the main study region, grey triangles indicate sites in the wider region. Both symbols represent our own estimate of site size, bars include the total range of estimates in the literature D: Total aggregate settlement for nine sample surveys across the northern Fertile Crescent expressed as settled area hectares per km 2.
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This continued into a transitional period between — BC characterized by increased aridity and a much discussed phase of settlement devolution. Following this transitional phase, around BC, there was significant atmospheric drying which continued with both temporal and regional fluctuations until at least the end of the first millennium AD [ 44 ] before a slight increase in moisture to the present day.
Evidence from four separate pollen cores from the Dead Sea and Sea of Galilee indicates a high and sustained level of Mediterranean tree pollen, linked to higher levels of precipitation, throughout most of the 3 rd millennium BC, a sharp drop in the early 2 nd millennium and a highly variable but overall lower level from approximately to BC [ 49 ].
Making allowance for the slower response of atmospheric pollen concentrations to variations in precipitation than is the case with the isotope data, the evidence of this core is broadly in line with the other indicators. Recent studies investigating climate change at a millennial scale using proxy data from within the main study region provide evidence for a similar shift in atmospheric moisture levels towards greater aridity after the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age periods, as well as a high degree of regional variability in climatic effects.
These include analyses of stable isotopes within barley grains [ 50 ] and taxa changes in charcoal fragments [ 51 ], both recovered from archaeological contexts at sites spanning the region spatially and temporally, as well as geoarchaeological studies [ 52 ]. Examining the climate and settlement records together allows us to compare trends in the long term Fig 5. Before this, late 5th and earlier 4th millennium BC urbanization occurred within the relatively moist phase between and BC, which was also a period of generally dense rural settlement [ 15 ].
Aggregate settlement in occupied hectares per km 2 then attains a peak between and BC after which the settlement devolution of the late third millennium BC occurred Fig 5. The impact of the 4. However, a reduction in the number of urban sites securely dated to the period in which the event may have occurred is visible. This will be discussed in a future paper. These latter instances are almost certainly the result of periods of time for which chronologically-sensitive types are lacking in the ceramic record, meaning sites from this period were not recognised during the original field surveys.
IRON AGE (1200 - 550 B.C.E.)
Between these two minor declines, the expansionist phase of the Iron Age Neo-Assyrian Empire is evident by a double peak ca. This expansion includes the rapid growth of imperial cities of between and ha area, and is followed by an additional phase of settlement growth corresponding to the imperial expansion of the Seleucid, Roman, Byzantine, Sasanian and Early Islamic empires.
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These later phases are associated with the growth of major cities such as Antioch — ha , Ctesiphon — ha , Raqqa — ha and Constantinople — ha , several of which lie outside the sample areas. The polities which emerged during this period were of a size that extended beyond the core area under consideration in this study, and the location of the largest sites was influenced as much by the external political decisions of imperial elites, as environmental factors.
Such growth culminated in the massive urbanisation of the Early Islamic cities of Samarra and Baghdad. Although these urban expansions are not necessarily comparable, for example the mega sites of the Abbasid period, specifically Samarra, include huge areas allocated to palaces and military compounds [ 53 , 54 ], they demonstrate eloquently that imperial urban growth consistently outstripped earlier phases.
Finally, a poorly resolved phase of decline after AD corresponds to the Middle Islamic period and the Mongol invasions when, in addition to a lack of settlement data, there was an absolute decline as well as a fragmentation of the earlier Islamic empires. We argue that both the overall scale of settlement and the size of the largest individual units became definitively de-coupled from climate after BC i.
Settlements of the Chalcolithic developed within more propitious climatic conditions, such that urbanisation between and BC may have been linked to production surpluses related to higher rainfall. We cannot be certain that the climate was a causal factor in this development, or that similar sites would not have arisen in drier conditions, but there is an initial correlation between the two datasets which becomes much less clear during and after the secondary phase of urbanism from — BC. After BC both rural settlement and city growth occurred during phases of generally drier conditions, albeit with regional variations [ 50 ] and after BC we witness the growth of cities that were far beyond the size that could have been supported by rain-fed agriculture in their immediate vicinity.
Maximum city size increased with aggregate settlement area, which is taken to be proportional to total population Fig 5.