New Perspectives from Archaeology on Ancient Empires

Advanced Seminar

Colloquium, Eric S. Dobkin Board Room, School for Advanced Research, 660 Garcia Street, Santa Fe

Wednesday, May 10, 2017, 12:00–1:00 pm, Free

Chairs:
Anna Lucille Boozer, Assistant Professor of Roman Archaeology, Department of History, City University of New York
Bleda Düring, Associate Professor, Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University
Bradley Parker, Associate Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology, Department of History, University of Utah

Most people throughout recorded history have lived under imperial rule and the legacy of ancient empires continues to structure the modern world. Why empires first emerged, how they achieved control, and how they transformed over time, remains poorly understood, however. These lacunae are mainly due to the long-term focus by scholars on imperial structures and elites. Our seminar breaks apart this conceptual mold in order to foreground how daily practice constitutes and contests empires across the imperial domains and beyond. Archaeology has a unique potential for investigating the constitution and dynamics of empires because it provides us with access to unrecorded peoples, places, and activities. These datasets allow us to explore both the heterogeneity of ancient empires and to identify structural similarities between empires as they play out on the ground. The case studies presented in this seminar provide expert assessments of historically-specific configurations of key ancient empires across the globe. As a whole, these perspectives contribute to the development of new theoretical and comparative approaches and conceptualizations of ancient empires.

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