Fishman, Susannah Goldblum

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  • Publication
    Ceramic Entanglements In The Urartian Periphery: Technology As The Nexus Of Politics And Practice
    (2017-01-01) Fishman, Susannah Goldblum
    This project examines the dynamic relationship between political context and technological practice by investigating how ceramic production at local centers in Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan shifted with the changing political landscape. The regional center of Oğlanqala was one of many locally governed polities in the Early Iron Age (1200-800 BCE), became a vassal on the edge of the Urartian Empire in the Middle Iron Age (800-600 BCE), and finally had to survive on the battlefield between Parthia and Rome in the Classical Period (200 BCE-100 CE). Technological production is always embedded in a social context, and new political configurations create new desires, changing methods of identity construction, and shifting market access. In order to reconstruct the ceramic production sequence— including raw material acquisition, forming, decoration, and exchange— samples were analyzed using petrography, neutron activation analysis (NAA), scanning electron microscopy-electron dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS), surface treatment analysis, and formal stylistic analysis. By layering this information, it was possible to document how inhabitants of Nakhchivan employed ceramic technology as a means of negotiating changing relationships. In the Early Iron Age, ceramics were locally produced within a regional stylistic tradition. Later, Urartian imperial expansion promoted a diversification of style and local material use alongside a significant expansion of multi-directional exchange. In contrast, Roman Period ceramics were produced within a uniform stylistic and technological tradition common throughout the Roman east, but half of the pottery was imported from Artashat, the capital of Roman Armenia. This imperial borderland was never completely incorporated into its powerful neighbors, and technological practices materialized changing relationships of engagement, ambivalence, and resistance.