Abstract: This paper is a diachronic study of alternative and sometimes conflicting ontologies of landscape in ancient Anatolia. I am interested specifically in the notion that some mountains were animate, sentient beings and that the boundaries separating them from men and gods were susceptible of transgression. Although examples of personified mountains as well as of metamorphosis and petrification can be found occasionally throughout the ancient Mediterranean, in Anatolia “mountain-persons” are more common and can be shown to reflect local traditions dating back millennia. Hittite kings regularly swore oaths by mountains and often represented them in visual art as partly anthropomorphized supports of royal power. Long after the Bronze Age—in fact, at least until the Byzantine period—people in Anatolia continued to celebrate cases of ontological permeability (and amalgamation) involving mountains that were thought to be divine before the classical period. Relevant examples range over a vast chronological span and include the case of the Christian martyr Ariadne in Phrygia who became a mountain to flee her persecutors, a civic club in Roman Sardis who claimed direct descent from Tmolus (a mountain that happens to have been one of the earliest kings of Lydia), the famous Niobe, a woman who according to Greek myth was petrified for boasting about her fecundity in front of a virgin goddess, and a host of other Anatolian mountains that were believed in Greek and Roman antiquity to have been genetically or sexually associated with both men and gods. Using current anthropological theory (drawn primarily from scholars working in the Amazon) I offer a glimpse into the lasting vitality of Anatolian ontologies of landscape according to which mountains, men, and god were dynamically entangled.
This presentation will discuss a group of study cases carried on during the last years in the upper parts of different mountain ranges in the North-East of the Iberian Peninsula. The works discussed are part of integrated studies in which archaeological, historical and ethnographic data, together with palaeoenvironmental researches have been used to analyse the relationships between landscape systems and human land-use strategies on mountains from a long-term perspective. The archaeological research in those environments is characterized by the specific geographic conditions and the particularities of past human economic activities and settlement patterns.
An overview on the results shows that about 1000 anthropogenic structures have been detected and classified in upper-mountain areas in the study areas. More than a hundred of them have been excavated and near 150 C14 dates have been conducted. Together, they represent a large chronological framework, from Early Neolithic to Modern times. Most of the structures are related to pastoral activities (huts, enclosures), but other activities regarding forestry and mineral exploitation are also documented. In this sense, the research shows that pastoralism has played a decisive role in the human shaping of mountain Cultural Landscapes in the studied areas. Anthropogenic deforestation episodes related to the creation and maintenance of pastoral grasslands, have been documented from the Neolithic onwards. The studies give also some clues on how important historical processes of social change, such as that of Romanization or the formation of feudal societies, have had a deep impact in mountain landscapes. The setting up of specialized economic activities has been punctually documented for those periods, proving that these were intimately linked to the historical processes documented at lower altitudes.
Matthew P. Canepa (PhD, University of Chicago) is an historian of art, archaeology and religions. His research focuses on the intersection of art, ritual and power in the eastern Mediterranean, Persia and the wider Iranian world. Prof. Canepa’s forthcoming book entitled The Iranian Expanse (University of California Press) is a large-scale study of the transformation of Iranian cosmologies, landscapes and architecture from the height of the Achaemenids to the coming of Islam.
The Cornell Departments of Anthropology and CIAMS present
This event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow the talk.
Dr. Mills’s Bibliography:
I am an anthropological archaeologist with broad interests in archaeological method and theory, especially (but not exclusively) as applied to the North American Southwest. My work has focused on ceramic analysis as a tool for understanding production, distribution, and consumption but more broadly is my interest in material culture to understand social relations in the past. My research on ceramic technology, craft specialization, and accumulations research led to a series of papers and edited volumes on social inequality, identity, feasting, and migration. These interests were fostered by more than a decade of work in the Silver Creek area of east-central Arizona, including a multi-year collaborative project with the White Mountain Apache Tribe. I also have field and research experience in a number of other areas of the Southwest including Zuni, Chaco, Mimbres, Grasshopper, and most recently the Greater Hohokam area. Outside the U.S. I have research experience in Guatemala (Postclassic Maya), Kazakhstan (Bronze Age), and Turkey (Neolithic). Besides ceramics I am interested in depositional practice, and how that can be used to understand memory, materiality, and relational logics. Currently I am a PI on the Southwest Social Networks Project, which brings together data and a talented group of scholars to apply social network analysis (SNA) to archaeological data from a large area of the western Southwest. This ongoing project continues my interest in looking at the dynamics of social relations from a multiscalar perspective.
A commitment to decolonization requires fundamental shifts in the way we make, teach, and share new knowledge. Transforming research from an extractive, often exploitative endeavor toward a practice that contributes to healing and community-well being is one of the key challenges of our time for those in the academy today. Drawing on five recent archaeology and heritage-related projects carried out in partnership with Native American and Turkish communities, I share the exciting possibilities of community-based research practices along with the complexities, contradictions, and impediments involved in doing engaged and activist scholarship. From complex ethical dilemmas and our need for revised IRB processes, to enhancing our skill sets in collaborative, participatory planning and knowledge mobilization strategies – I’ll discuss both the promise and perils involved in transforming research through a community-based approach.
On Thursday, October 15, Dr. John Cherry (Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World) will present “Archaeology Under the Volcano: Survey and Landscape Archaeology on Montserrat, 2010-2015.” The lecture will take place at 4:30 p.m. in Goldwin Smith Hall, G22. A reception will follow the talk.