Water management and the development of early centralized societies in the Mesopotamian world
Sapienza University of Rome and Accademia dei Lincei
The lecture will deal with the crucial importance of water management and its symbolic expressions in various environments of the so-called ‘Greater Mesopotamia’, from the arid and, at the same time, marshy alluvial lands of Southern Mesopotamia, to the varied regions of Upper Mesopotamia and SE Anatolia, to the specific and peculiar conditions in the Malatya plain, along the Upper Euphrates western banks. The data obtained from excavations and territorial studies stress the impact that water factor may have had on the development of agricultural potentials in these three different environments and related socio-political structures, fostering the increasing central control over staple products and the emergence of the first hierarchical and politically centralized societies in the 4th millennium BC.
In some of these areas, recent findings and interdisciplinary researches have shown the possible role played by irrigation in the development of agricultural production of the first urban societies and the place that such production occupied in the political economies of the leaders of these communities, also producing different outcomes in relation to the different environmental setting and conditioning.
A new sophisticated drainage system has been moreover documented in the Arslantepe Palace of the 4th millennium BC, evidencing the full technological control on rainwater by the local elites.
Evidence of symbolic and ritual expressions related to water and, indirectly, to agriculture in the different analyzed socio-political environments will be also taken into consideration.
Marcella Frangipane was born in Palermo in 1948 and has studied archaeology in Rome at the Sapienza University, specializing in Prehistory and Protohistory. From 1973 to 1976 she spent a research period in Mexico excavating in the Pre-Classic site of Cuanalan in the Teotihuacan Valley with Linda Manzanilla, and also attending an advanced seminar in archaeology, led by K.V. Flannery, W. Sanders and P. Armillas.
Coming back to Italy, she participated in field researches in Italy and in Egypt, in the Pre-Dynastic site of Maadi, being also fully involved in the long-term expedition project at Arslantepe, Malatya, EasternTurkey, of which she became the director in 1990.
She got a permanent research position at Sapienza University, later becoming Associate and Full Professor in the same University. She teaches Prehistory and Protohistory of the Near and Middle East and Strategies and Methods of Archaeological Research for bachelor, master and PhD degrees.
She is still leading the Arslantepe excavations, making of this project the project of her life, and obtaining crucial results on the rise and development of the first hierarchical and centralized societies in the Near East.
She is member of the DEUTSCHES ARCHÄOLOGISCHE INSTITUT in Berlin, the NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES of USA, and the Italian ‘ACCADEMIA NAZIONALE DEI LINCEI’.
She is the Editor in Chief of the Journal ORIGINI and of two monographic Series,«ARSLANTEPE» and «STUDI DI PREISTORIA ORIENTALE» (SPO), all published by the
Sapienza University of Rome.