The Archaeology of Empire in Ancient Anatolia || Prehistoric Interregional Interaction in Anatolia and the Balkans: An Overview

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  • Prehistoric Interregional Interaction in Anatolia and the Balkans: An OverviewAuthor(s): Sharon R. SteadmanSource: Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No. 299/300, The Archaeologyof Empire in Ancient Anatolia (Aug. - Nov., 1995), pp. 13-32Published by: The American Schools of Oriental ResearchStable URL: .Accessed: 09/10/2014 09:44

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  • Prehistoric Interregional Interaction in Anatolia and the Balkans: An Overview


    Department of Near Eastern Studies Cornell University Ithaca, NY 14853

    Interest in Anatolian prehistory has experienced a rapid increase in the last decade. While many scholars are researching interaction between Anatolia and Mesopotamia, several have also been attempting to elucidate interregional interaction between Ana- tolia and the Balkans of southeastern Europe. This article is intended to provide an overview of this important area of investigation to researchers working outside Ana- tolia and Europe, with an accompanying compendium of literature treating this topic. This work offers an outline on the history of research into the issue; a chronological sketch of the relevant prehistoric periods of Anatolia and Europe, with an emphasis on the Chalcolithic; and a summary of the sites in both regions that have provided seemingly incontrovertible evidence of interconnections. The material presented here provides the initial framework needed for beginning to unravel the intricacies ofAna- tolian interaction with its neighbors to the northwest.

    he introduction to this issue of the Bulletin notes that the articles assembled here essen- tially constitute a discussion of the "archae-

    eology of empire" in Anatolia. Those familiar with Anatolian prehistory will be surprised to find the pre- sent article included in such a collection, since evi- dence of a prehistoric Anatolian empire has yet to come to light. While it is not the intention of the present work to advocate the existence of empires in Anatolian prehistory, the issues and evidence dis- cussed here do have a bearing on the later develop- ment of central Anatolian civilizations. The main purpose of the current article is to present an over- view of data and models concerning the possible interaction zones between Anatolia and southeastern Europe. The aim is not to offer a compendium of new, previously unpublished data, although some unpub- lished materials will be included, but rather to sum- marize the evidence for interaction zones between Anatolia and southeastern Europe (fig. 1). The rea- sons for such a review article are two-fold. First, while various scholars have been quite active in the renewed pursuit of data designed to further explore the field of interaction analysis between Anatolia and Europe, few have knowledge of such studies beyond

    those directly involved in archaeological endeavors in those regions. Although still in its infancy, the fascinating research concerning interaction analysis between Anatolia-often considered on the "fringe" of the Near East-and southeastern Europe, unques- tionably beyond the boundaries of Near Eastern archaeology, should be made available to scholars working outside these two areas. The modern-day geographical boundaries between these two regions do not, it seems, have their roots in prehistory; nor was the Bosporus or the Black Sea an impediment to travel between the two continents.

    A second justification for the present work is to provide a framework for introducing previously un- published ceramic material from the site of Alishar

    Hiytik, in central Anatolia. This ceramic material, startlingly similar to southeast European (Balkan) examples, provides a backdrop for the entire discus- sion of interregional interaction analysis between these two regions.

    To assess the evidence for interaction from a broad- based perspective, the material will be presented in two major sections: the first section reviews evi- dence for prehistoric interaction between southeastern Europe and northwest Anatolia, the second establishes


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    similar ceramic links between Europe and central Anatolia. These sections, which focus primarily on ceramic sequences, are prefaced by a review of in- teraction analysis studies in the relevant regions and a necessary, but brief, discussion of chronological issues.



    Interaction analysis is crucial to understanding the prehistoric cultural patterns of these geographically adjacent, densely inhabited regions. The ultimate goal in applying interregional interaction models to cen- tral Anatolian prehistoric and early historic cultures is to illuminate the effect that interaction may have had on the cultural process in these areas and peri- ods. The conceptualization of Anatolia as existing on

    the fringe of the Near East in the prehistoric periods may indeed be quite accurate. Interaction analysis is beginning to offer evidence that western and central Anatolian cultural development may have had far more in common with corresponding cultures in Europe than with those found to the south and east in Mesopotamia and Syro-Palestine.

    Diffusion and Interaction Analysis

    Recent scholarly inquiries into interaction zones between these two regions were not the first attempts to define contacts in this area. The prehistoric con- nections between Anatolia and Europe enjoyed sig- nificant scholarly attention in the 1930s and 1940s. Such investigations, interested mainly in locating the "origin" of southeastern European culture, grew out of the diffusionist thinking that can be traced back to

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    early anthropological thinkers such as Childe (1928; 1939), Boas (1940), and Lowie (1929). However, by the 1950s, even prior to the advent of neoevolutionist thinking, archaeologists had begun to shy away from models that explained culture change as caused by external stimuli, i.e., diffusion (Trigger 1989: 244- 97). The shifting tides of anthropological thought moved toward an antidiffusionist outlook; archaeol- ogists began to conceptualize cultural change from an internal point of view.

    In the last decade, however, anthropological thought about culture change and the causes of cul- tural variation has again undergone revision and rein- terpretation, beginning, perhaps, with studies such as Wolf's work on European interaction with other areas of the world (1982). Wolf and others contend that anthropologists must no longer view societies or cul- tures as closed units that should be examined inde- pendently. They propose instead that external factors and interaction should be acknowledged as possible causes, or instigators, of cultural change (Trigger 1989: 330-31). This increased open-mindedness has led to the development of multivariate interaction- based models, which address societal change, con- comitant with increasing complexity, by scholars working in many areas of the ancient and prehistoric world (e.g., Brumfiel and Earle 1987; Gledhill 1988; Renfrew and Cherry 1986). Interregional interaction studies have thus come to represent a significant portion of the recent economic literature on ancient societies (Dietler 1989; Schortman 1989; Schortman and Urban 1992a; Upham 1986). Such studies offer the premise that societies do not function in a vacuum but are instead continuously undergoing morphologi- cal changes, expansion, compaction, and internal and external change as a result of interaction with other societies. Furthermore, these models argue that in- tersocietal (intercultural) interaction is the principal determinant in the life and shape of an individual society (Schortman and Urban 1992b: 3).

    Such realizations opened the floodgates of renewed scholarly inquiry designed to define the nature of re- gional contacts and interaction. Scholars working in the Near East and elsewhere have begun to examine ancient economic structures using interaction-based models, particularly in relation to core/periphery or world systems theory (Algaze 1993; Champion 1989; Frank 1990; 1993; Kohl 1979; 1987; 1992; Rowlands, Larsen, and Kristiansen 1987; Steadman 1994). These types of theoretical approaches are en- abling researchers to identify and investigate "inter-

    action spheres" between a wide variety of regions and societies, including Anatolia and Europe.

    Research in Anatolia and the Balkans: Past, Present, and Future

    Although archaeological research has been on- going in both Anatolia and southeastern Europe for decades, the attempt to define any type of contacts has been slow in coming. The explanation for such halting progress lies both in the relatively small num- ber of prehistoric sites excavated in the relevant areas of Anatolia and in the past trends in archaeo- logical thought outlined above. In the early decades of this century, scholars working in Anatolia, and partic- ularly southeastern Europe, recognized similarities in material culture between the two regions (e.g., Fewkes 1936). Arguments subsequently raged concerning the "origin" of such cultures, i.e., did the Balkan cul- tures originate as a result of migrationfrom Anatolia (e.g., Garasanin 1958; 1961; Milojci6 1949; Piggott 1965), rather than developing in place. The "anti- diffusionism" of the last several decades severely lim- ited the further investigation into contacts between the Balkans and any area of Anatolia, whether in the northwest or elsewhere.1 Given that prior to the anti- diffusionist movement, the arguments had focused on the geographical origin of these cultures, such reluctance to push such politically and culturally "in- correct" ideas further was, in principle, understand- able. Since that time, researchers have acknowledged that cultures and societies frequently arise indige- nously, and the stigma of diffusionist thinking has slowly begun to fade; investigations into interre- gional contacts-otherwise known as interregional interaction-is now acceptable and even applauded. Thus the prohibition against any type of explanatory models that advocated a transmission or sharing of cultural elements-diffusionist thinking-is finally lifting (for a discussion of the relevant issues, see Chapman 1981). Discussions about the origins of the Balkan cultures no longer center on whether such cultures were derived from, or inspired by, northwest- ern Anatolia. The discussions instead focus on the when and the how of contact, and why it was initiated, from either side of the Marmara.

    Recent research offers a growing body of evi- dence, drawn from the excavation and survey of a number of prehistoric sites in northwest Anatolia, particularly in the region of the Sea of Marmara, indi- cating substantial interaction between the Balkans

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    and northwest Anatolia. The corpus of Anatolian information concerning contacts between these re- gions, composed mainly of ceramic evidence, has been compiled primarily by one scholar, Mehmet Ozdogan, who, for 15 years, has worked tirelessly in this endeavor. In the 1980s, casting aside his fear of being labeled a "diffusionist," Ozdogan, along with a select few working in Europe (Garasanin 1980- 1981; 1982; 1991; Jovanovid 1993; Makkay 1985; 1990), looked for ceramic parallels between Anato- lian and the Balkan sites, and carefully published such information as he was able to gather (Ozdogan 1982a; 1982b; 1985; 1986a; 1986b; 1989). Though his work was somewhat ignored in that dark age of antidiffusionism, it is now considered by many, in- cluding Anatolian archaeologists, to be the founda- tion on which to build a coherent and understandable catalogue of interregional interactions between these two regions during the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods.

    Working with interaction-oriented models, even before the recent surge of interest in this type of research, Ozdogan has put forward a concept of interaction based not on simple trade or migration between the two regions, but rather a concept of a cultural interaction sphere. This interpretation is echoed in Thissen's work in northwestern and central Anatolia (1993a; 1993b). Thissen, for example, sug- gests that the volume and type of pottery present in central Anatolia cannot be explained by a simple exchange mechanism (1993a: 208). Ozdogan's ex- planation persuasively posits a large cultural zone of interaction from the Late Neolithic (of Anatolia) into the Early Bronze Age (Ozdo'an 1993: 180). In short, he believes that the similarities in material culture between the two regions resulted not from diffu- sion or migration, but from the fact that the entire Balkan peninsula, along with western and central Anatolia, constituted an entire cultural zone. Such a view does not assume or necessitate a completely uniform cultural assemblage or cultural homogene- ity. Rather, the concept is one of a large geographical zone in which cultural processes, including techno- logical innovations, move along at a similar rate, but with internal di...


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