Continuity and change: an annales approach to the Late Chalcolithic period in North Mesopotamia

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Bilkent University
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The semantic context of the cultural patterns of the past is beyond our perception. This fact, regardless of time and space, thus, makes any type of social organizations that existed in the past complex and transitive. Bearing in mind this fact, this study aimed to analyze the Late Chalcolithic period (ca. 4500-3000 BC) in an extensive area of north Mesopotamia with archaeological traces of an increasing socio-cultural, socio-economic, and socio-political complexity through the Annales School of History paradigm, which divides time into geographical time, social time, and individual time. Within this division, geographical time (longue durée) refers to the role of environment and geography on the nature and development of the northern communities at the regional level. Social time (conjoncture) provides a perceptible rhythm of indigenous cultural phenomena in north Mesopotamia (ca. 4500-3700 BC) prior to the Uruk culture of southern Mesopotamian origin, and a certain degree of social mobility, history of communities and their ideologies (mentalité) after the Uruk expansion (ca 3700-3000 BC). The Uruk phenomenon in north Mesopotamia can be perceived in social time. At another level, individual time (évènement), which takes historical events as the reference, coincides with the establishment of the Uruk colonies at Tell Sheikh Hassan, Habuba Kabira Süd, and Jebel Aruda in the Middle Euphrates Basin. In comparison with the earlier assessments, this analysis shows that an interpretation of continuity and change in total history (histoire totale) of the Late Chalcolithic period of north Mesopotamia is possible with the Annales paradigm. It also shows that north Mesopotamia, in the long term, hosted a number of cultural patterns; thus, provides culturally accumulated continuity, while different cultural influences and interactions, in several cases, played a key role in cultural changes. The interpretation of this thesis based on archaeological excavations, surveys carried out in north Mesopotamia, as well as previous views on the Late Chalcolithic period.

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Annales, Late Chalcolithic, North Mesopotamia, Uruk Culture
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