Rocco Palermo

Rocco Palermo (University of Naples): “Patterns of Identity: Cross-Cultural Interactions in the Gaugamela Region during the Seleucid Period”

In consequence of the collapse of the Assyrian Empire at the very end of the 7th century BC the entire Upper Tigris basin experienced a transitional phase, archaeologically documented at Nineveh and Nimrud, before becoming a satrapy of the Achaemenid Empire. The social and political balance changed again in 331 BC when Alexander the Great defeated Darius III at Gaugamela and posed the cornerstones for the creation of a new world order.

Since the 1980s survey projects carried out in Northern Iraq highlighted how the Hellenistic/Seleucid period was an archaeologically rich phase, widely testified by the explosion of medium size and small rural settlements that exploited the natural resources of the region. These researches significantly agreed to admit a very strong interaction between what happened before the coming of the Greeks and the new western impulses that now dominate the region. These contacts are largely observable in the material culture of the period stretching from the 4th to the 2nd century BC when the local substratum was partly still alive and merged with the western influences. This mixed cultural milieu affected both the ceramics repertoires and the cultural identity in a unique and significant reciprocity.

The proposed paper will start from the analysis of the results obtained mainly by the Land of Nineveh Archaeological Project (and other projects in the region as well) in order to define the impact of the Hellenistic culture on the local cultural background and the specific reciprocal relation during the Seleucid period. The investigation will mainly focus on the material culture (mostly pottery) but it will also involve the creation of a political landscape connected to the route network and the exploitation of the natural resources.


Selected Bibliography

Oates, D. (1968). Studies in the Ancient History of Northern Iraq. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Wilkinson, T.J., and D.J. Tucker. (1995). Settlement Development in the North Jazira, Iraq. Aris & Phillips, Ltd, Warminster.

Ur, J.A., (2010). Urbanism and Cultural Landscapes in Northeastern Syria: The Tell Hamoukar Survey, 1999-2001. Oriental Institute Publications 137, Chicago, IL.

Jackson, H. and Tidmarsh, J. (2011). Jebel Khalid on the Euphrates, volume 3: the pottery. Mediterranean archaeology supplement, 7, MeditArch, Sydney.

Cohen, G. (2013). The Hellenistic Settlements in the East. From Armenia and Mesopotamia to Bactria and India, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

Kosmin, P. (2014). The Land Of The Elephant Kings. Space, Territory and Ideology In The Seleucid Empire, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.

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