Date of Award

Fall 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Art & Archaeology of Mediterranean World

First Advisor

C. Brian Rose

Second Advisor

Holly Pittman

Third Advisor

David Gilman Romano


This dissertation presents a critical study of the landscapes of Achaemenid-period Paphlagonia (c. 550-330 BCE), a mountainous region in northern central Turkey that extends from the verdant Black Sea coast to the sparser Anatolian plateau. In the classical literary sources and the imperial narratives of the Achaemenid Empire, the region of Paphlagonia has been characterized as a mountainous frontier, inhabited by migrants and ruled by gluttonous dynasts. Classically-informed historians writing about the Achaemenid period also speak of Paphlagonia as a bounded region, divided into several rival chiefdoms. Recent archaeological surveys and excavations in the region, however, present a different perspective: a complex and contested landscape politically and culturally related to the Black Sea and Anatolia, as well as the wider Aegean and Achaemenid worlds. A series of ubiquitous, columnar rockcut tombs spread across the Paphlagonian landscape function as significant monuments where such hybrid identities and political alignments are negotiated.

The dissertation develops a post-colonial critique of the ancient and modern discourses that reimagine Paphlagonia and Paphlagonians as marginal, uncivilized, and tribal. It traces the genealogy of how the region of Paphlagonia within classical geography came about in the work of 19th and 20th century colonial antiquarians, geographers, and archaeologists; and demonstrates the modernist and nationalist underpinnings of their writings. Furthermore, the dissertation brings together data from recent archaeological surveys and excavations in the region to provide a fuller picture of the various landscapes of Paphlagonia, with special emphasis on the relationship of rockcut funerary monuments and settlement to copper mining, karst landscapes, and forest ecologies. Finally, the dissertation demonstrates a critical methodology of an archaeology of landscapes by deconstructing ancient and modern discourses about them and creating a new analytical framework, using a combination of archaeological survey, archival research, and critical perspectives.

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