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CORDIS

Villages to Empire: 4000 Years of Death and Society in Elam (4500-525 BCE)

Project description

Portraying social change in antiquity through mortuary evidence

Elam was an ancient civilization in the southwest of modern-day Iran that flourished before the rise of the Persian Empire. The EU-funded ELAMortuary project will portray a long timeline of social change in Elam through the exploitation of mortuary evidence. It will combine archaeology, philology and social theory with digital technology to analyse the uninterrupted sequence of mortuary evidence from small villages (ca. 4500 BCE) to the emergence of the Persian Empire (ca. 525 BCE) at the vast settlement mound of Susa on the Susiana plain. Taking a historical perspective that seeks long-term patterns in societies, it will reassess the validity of the linear model of social evolution that remains dominant in literature on ancient southwest Iran.

Objective

ELAMortuary is an innovative multidisciplinary project combining archaeology, philology and social theory with digital technology to map long timescale social change in the ancient Near Eastern civilisation of Elam through the lens of its mortuary record. It capitalises on a rare opportunity to track developments across pivotal moments in human history through an uninterrupted sequence of mortuary evidence from small village communities (ca. 4500 BCE) to the rise of the Persian Empire (ca. 525 BCE) at a single site, the gargantuan settlement mound of Susa on the Susiana plain, which flanked lower Mesopotamia—the so-called “Cradle of Civilisation”. Its inhabitants travelled along a similar general trajectory to their Mesopotamian neighbours, from villages, to cities, to states, to empires. The project prioritises a longue durée historical view that seeks long-term patterns in societies and it re-evaluates, through a theoretical interrogation of mortuary data, the validity of the still-dominant linear model of social evolution in ancient southwest Iran.

In ELAMortuary praxis, theory, acquisition of skills through advanced training, and a strong partnership come together in a high impact project that will generate an open access database with a new set of archaeological and textual data, and a model for analysing it. This timely new approach to archaeological research is now conceivable thanks to the availability of a rich corpus of data, the digital tools to analyse it, and a solid support network of European researchers. ELAMortuary will deliver a body of new evidence that can be exploited by other researchers of ancient Iran and neighbouring regions of the Near East, and it will present a method and case study for assessing long-scale social change through mortuary evidence to the broader archaeological community. Related disciplines and general audiences will benefit from a new contribution to the knowledge base on past human behaviour around death.

Coordinator

UNIVERSITA DEGLI STUDI DI NAPOLI L'ORIENTALE
Net EU contribution
€ 171 473,28
Address
Via Chiatamone 61/62
80121 Naples
Italy

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Region
Sud Campania Napoli
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Total cost
€ 171 473,28