Social use of metal from the Late Chalcolithic to the Early Bronze Age in the Upper Euphrates Valley
Stork, Leigh A.
Previous work on the early use of metal draws heavily upon the work of V. Gordon Childe, particularly his 1944 ‘Archaeological ages as technological stages’ article which outlined the development and social impact of metal in prehistory. Subsequent work, especially in the European paradigm, in the field of archaeometallurgy and material culture studies of metal have been oriented towards the typological definition and description of metal objects and how these typologies changed over time. Rather than focusing on the development of metallurgical technology or specific metal artefacts, this thesis seeks to outline the social use of metal in the latter prehistory of the Upper Euphrates Valley. This is accomplished by comparing and contrasting the published information regarding the numbers, types and contexts of metal objects and metalworking paraphernalia found at these sites and discussing these finds within the socio-political and economic frameworks of the Late Chalcolithic 2 – 5 and the Early Bronze Age I and II (ca. 4000-2600 BC). This analysis is then compared against the social use of metal at sites in Mesopotamia, Upper Mesopotamia and the southern Caucasus from the relevant time periods in order to provide a framework by which to assess the factors that contributed to the use of metal in the ‘Euphratean’ cultural milieu. Chronological and geographical analyses reveal patterns that can be used to establish how the social use of metal changed over time- both within the entire Upper Euphrates Valley as well as at specific sites in response to external influence. Results of such analyses show that not only does the intensity of metal production increase over time, but that there is also an increased diversity of the types of objects being manufactured. However, the main distinction between the Late Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze Age is in the contexts in which metal was being used. There is a clear increase in the use of metal in mortuary contexts during the early centuries of the third millennium, especially in the region of the Euphrates Valley that is close to the modern Turkish-Syrian border, a situation that reflects the ability of a greater proportion of the population to manipulate surplus resources. This thesis, therefore, stresses the close relationship between the changing economic and socio-political systems with the changing social use of metal over time from the late fourth millennium through the first half of the early third millennium.