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Title: Social ideology and the Uruk phenomenon
Author: Collins, Paul Thomas
ISNI:       0000 0001 1627 6448
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2000
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From the middle of the fourth millennium BC the Uruk culture of south Mesopotamia expanded into the neighbouring areas of the Zagros Mountains, Syria and southeastern Anatolia, interacting with local societies by implanting settlements. The new interregional relations were partly the result of structural changes which had taken place throughout the region. However, the new Uruk settlements were created on the basis of a strong social ideology which may have emerged at the same time. While prehistoric cognitive systems cannot be reconstructed, the symbolic, ideological and cosmological systems (which together represent a social ideology) can be reconstructed and interpreted scientifically. Several lines of evidence suggest that the Uruk social ideology was an exaggerated version of the dualism apparent in later historic Mesopotamia - a contrast between 'civilization' and nature. The Uruk world was a society which valued an extreme normative order combined with control over the world. The elite managed such order by a rejection of the outside world and the exclusion of all non-Uruk social ideologies. This was maintained through the apparatus of redistribution, pilgrimages to ritual centres with offerings, and the control of nature expressed in architecture, iconography, ceramics and urbanization. The fourth millennium witnessed the large scale exploitation of resources throughout greater Mesopotamia and the southern expansion was almost certainly driven by the demands of the Uruk elite (though not chiefly for rare materials). There is no evidence that the Uruk settlements represent colonization, as in the European systems of recent centuries. Nor were they founded primarily as trading centres like the early second millennium BC Assyrian colonies in Anatolia, or created through military domination as under the late third millennium BC Agade rulers. By viewing the Uruk phenomenon as embodying a specific social ideology it is possible to suggest reasons for the appearance and, relatively abrupt, disappearance of the cultural implantation beyond Babylonia and the implications this had for the emergence of historic Mesopotamia.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Mesopotamia; Civilization; Nature; Settlements