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CALL. 15.01.2018: Transitions during the Early Bronze Age in the Levant - Jerusalem (Israel)




LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Centre de recherche français à Jérusalem - Albright Institute in Jerusalem (Jerusalem, Israel)




The traditional approach to structuring the past is based on a rigid chronological perception of time forced upon dynamic and fluidly-transforming societies. The one-dimensional nature of the chronological approach results in periods of well-defined spatiotemporal cultural entities separated by “transitional” periods. These defined cultural entities are often treated as static, though we know they were not, so that we may interpret cultural, historical, sociological, and political aspects of the society. Transition periods, however, are often treated as outliers interpreted against one or both of the periods that bracket them. In particular, they are characterized by a high variability of cultural traits, a form of "disorder" characterized by sets of old and new features, defying the clear delineation of socio-cultural boundaries. Discussions of transitional periods, therefore, are muddled by a paradigm in which the before and after are individually defined, while the transition introduces added variability that defies allocation to one or the other distinct spatial temporal cultural groups. In short, our chronological model of periods succeeding one another is one dimensional and fails to help explain the cultural and spatial development within societies, that move much more fluidly through time. The result is the shoe-horning of variable societies into periods of “transition” from one solid cultural state to another, judged according to their predecessors and successors. Over the course of some 100 years of scholarship on the Early Bronze Age Levant, our chronological resolution has been low, such that transformations of societies could not be seen directly, but only inferred from the fact that, for example, one time there was an Early Bronze Age I society and later there was an Early Bronze Age II that looked different. With the accumulation of new data, recent advances in radiocarbon chronologies, and more sophisticated theoretical approaches, transitional periods are beginning to come into sharp focus, and it is clear that our chronological approach severely limits our ability to interpret societal change across space and time. The objective of this workshop is to confront our interpretations of the various transitional phases across the late 4th-3rd Millennium (Late Chalcolithic to Early Bronze I, EB I to EB II, and EB III to EB IV/Intermediate Bronze Age) in the southern Levant. The focus will be on the nature of the cultural-period-defining traits and their value for distinguishing between changes related to endogenous or exogenous evolution, cultural or demic diffusion. These traits will include material culture, architecture, mortuary practices as well as patterns of relationships between sites and subsistence strategies. We invite papers which address any aspect of periods of transition in the Early Bronze Age, especially those that consider the complexities of method and interpretation of social change within a rigid chronological framework.

We invite your participation as a presenter or participant in the colloquium. Papers should be 15-20 minutes and should address any aspect of periods of transition in the Early Bronze Age, especially those that consider the complexities of method and interpretation of social change within a rigid chronological framework. Below you will find a detailed description of the theme to inspire you. If you wish to submit a paper, we ask that you send title and abstract (max. 250 words) to Sarah Fairman, AIAR Communications Director, at by 15 January 2018. If any of you wish to organize a session on a particular sub-theme, we are open to suggestions.

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