Imperial archipelago: The making of the Urartian landscape in southern Transcaucasia
AuthorSmith, Adam Thomas, 1968-
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractIn the early eighth century B.C., Argishti I, King of Urartu, invaded southern Transcaucasia and began a dramatic transformation of the regional landscape, previously occupied by local fortress-states, into an imperial province. This dissertation examines the landscape of the fortress-states of the Early Iron Age in the Ararat and Shirak Plains and its rapid transformation under the Urartian regime. Rather than being merely inert stages for political processes, the archaeological evidence from southern Transcaucasia suggest that landscapes were active elements in Urartian political strategies for securing political authority. Physical changes in the landscape altered the experience of space, redefining relations between subjects and rulers indicative of unique programs for deploying political power. The Urartian regime also produced representational landscapes--scenes portraying gods and rituals against the backdrop of an Urartian fortress. The landscape scenes found in state produced media suggest that Urartian regimes sought to legitimize the physical landscape in reference to a representational program which recast their fortresses as sacred and transcendent rather than as instruments of political domination. The production of the Urartian landscape in southern Transcaucasia changed over time as the constitution of Urartian political authority changed. While Urartu's initial occupation of southern Transcaucasia indicates the regime consisted of numerous tightly integrated institutional elements, by the reign of Rusa II in the seventh century B.C., the internal organization of new fortresses suggests considerable disintegration of institutional coherence. By attending to the ways in which landscapes are actively involved in the constitution of political authority, this examination of the Urartian occupation of southern Transcaucasia offers epistemological, theoretical and methodological tools for archaeological descriptions of political authority.
Degree ProgramGraduate College