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Title: Towards an absolute chronology of early Mesopotamia : a radiocarbon perspective
Author: Wencel, Maciej Mateusz
ISNI:       0000 0004 6499 1819
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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The region of Southern Mesopotamia, modern-day southern Iraq, saw a number of important socio-cultural transformations during the 4th - 3rd millennia BC, which led to the emergence of the world's first urban, literate civilisation. These crucial developments reverberated across the neighbouring regions and greatly contributed to the later Classical and Judaeo-Christian traditions. Despite the importance of this period, our understanding of its chronology is limited. The main aim of this thesis is to build a reliable absolute chronology for the Uruk, Early Dynastic, and Akkadian periods in Mesopotamia using radiocarbon (14C) dating. Radiocarbon dates published in the archaeological literature underwent a thorough evaluation in order to ensure that only reliable measurements were included in the analysis. New dates were produced for the periods and contexts most lacking in radiocarbon data. Archaeological and textual sources were used to create Bayesian models in order to produce even more precise time estimates. The resulting periodisation of Mesopotamia was compared to the contemporary cultural sequences of ancient Iran and the Syrian Jezirah. While corroborating the standard Middle Chronology model, the results highlighted a number of intricacies relevant to our understanding of the early history of the Mesopotamian civilisation. Most importantly, this thesis argues that the developmental process was one of long periods of cultural continuity punctuated by sudden changes and shorter phases of innovation and creativity.
Supervisor: Ramsey, Bronk ; Dee, Michael Sponsor: Lorne Thyssen Scholarship
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Jezirah ; Mesopotamia ; Iran ; Bayesian ; radiocarbon ; archaeology