Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Pastoralism in the Early Transcaucasian Culture: The faunal remains from Sos Höyük
by Piro, Jennifer J., Ph.D., New York University, 2009, 491; 3365731
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation addresses the nature and extent of pastoralism in the Early Transcaucasian Culture (ETC) by examining zooarchaeological evidence from the site of Sos Höyük in Northeastern Anatolia. Animal bone data from Sos and other ETC sites in the region were integrated with settlement data and archaeological remains to address broader questions concerning pastoralism, mobile ways of life, and the vast geographic spread of the Early Transcaucasian Culture during the 3rd millennium B.C.

Over 10,000 faunal specimens from the ETC levels at Sos were analyzed in order to examine the organization of the pastoral economy from the Late Chalcolithic to the Middle Bronze Age (3500-1500 B.C.). Specifically, this research aimed to characterize the decision-making process of herders within their environmental setting and archaeological context. To explore how herding decisions were made, analysis focused on the strategies underlying productive goals, the role of herding within the overall subsistence economy, changes or continuity in patterns of animal use over time, and the degree of mobility in the pastoral system.

The zooarchaeological evidence from Sos Höyük indicates that settled agro-pastoralism formed the basis of the ETC economy at the site. Herding decisions emphasized conservative, risk-averse strategies intended to maximize herd security and meet subsistence needs. Resource diversification at Sos helped create a stable subsistence base, which would have promoted sedentism at the site. The generalized, risk-averse herding economy at Sos remained largely stable for almost two millennia during a period when Northeastern Anatolia functioned as a hub of cultural interaction, connecting Transcaucasia to the Upper Euphrates and its ties to the Mesopotamian world.

This research has shown that the nature of pastoralism in the Early Transcaucasian Culture is more complex and heterogeneous than previously recognized. The animal bone evidence from Sos and other ETC sites points to a diversity in pastoral activities throughout the region and indicates that herding decisions are based on a range of variables with varying degrees of archaeological visibility. Thus, the longstanding emphasis on highly mobile forms of pastoralism as a defining feature and as a mechanism for the creation and spread of the ETC must be reconsidered.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Crabtree, Pam J.
Commitee: Anton, Susan C., Batiuk, Stephen D., Sagona, Antonio G., Wright, Rita P.
School: New York University
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 70/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology
Keywords: Anatolia, Early Bronze Age, Early Transcaucasian Culture, Herding, Pastoralism, Sos Hoyuk, Zooarchaeology
Publication Number: 3365731
ISBN: 978-1-109-25887-5
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