Department Colloquium: Rocco Palermo (Bryn Mawr) "The Making and Development of Imperial Landscapes in Mesopotamia. The View from the Erbil Plain in North Iraq"

Thursday, February 22, 2024 - 4:45pm to 6:15pm

402 Cohen Hall, 249 South 36th St.

*4:15-4:45 pm: Coffee and cookies in Cohen Hall 2nd Floor Lounge. All are welcome.

Speaker: Rocco Palermo, Assistant Professor of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology, Bryn Mawr College

Abstract: Empires of the past are often considered as monolithic, solid, and ubiquitous manifestations of power. Traditional approaches to the study of these complex and multi-faceted polities have privileged the analysis of capital cities, monumental architecture, and visual propaganda. And yet, particularly in the case of polycentric empires (i.e., the Seleucid Empire), the landscape of settlements within the imperial space possessed multiple features, generating different responses to the State.  The imperial evolution from the end of Assyria to the rise of the Sasanians in the 3rd c. CE in SW Asia was, for example, accompanied by a radical transformation of both urban and rural systems prompting in a radical rupture from earlier historical phases. The understanding of this organization and its long-term modification can effectively offer a new perspective on critical historical and socio-cultural phenomena. With the aid of legacy data, newly collected evidence, and excavation records, this paper aims at presenting the realpolitik of ancient empires in the steppes of North Mesopotamia through the lens of archaeology. The ultimate goal is to offer a series of counter-narrative evidence to the impact and, most importantly, lack thereof pre-modern territorial empires outside core areas and major urban centres.