Hittites, Water Cult and the Politics of Landscape in Bronze Age Anatolia
Sponsored by Archaeological Institute of America-Milwaukee Society, UWM Departments of Foreign Languages and Linguistics/Classics, Art History and Anthropology
Sunday, February 12, 2017 - 3:00pm

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Sabin Hall, Room G90
3413 N Downer Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53211
United States

Earthen dams, stone lined water reservoirs and stone built sacred pool monuments constitute some of the most vibrant landscape features in the Hittite world during the Late Bronze Age in Central Anatolia (ca 1400-1175 BCE). Such water monuments materialize in various architectural forms and building technologies and constitute important elements of both urban and rural infrastructures, while they also serve as sites of ritual interaction with the Underworld, the mythical subterranean world where certain divinities and dead ancestors reside. Since 2010, Yalburt Yaylasi Archaeological Landscape Research project has been investigating the long term history of the borderland region in the vicinity of two imperial Hittite water monuments of Tudhaliya IV (1237-1209 BCE) in west-central Turkey: a sacred pool complex at the site of Yalburt Yaylasi and the earthen dam of Koyutolu Yayla. Both of these sites revealed monumental inscriptions in Hieroglyphic Luwian, and suggest a comprehensive program of water management and monumentalization of sacred springs in the region. The preliminary results of the systematic regional survey in the region suggests an intensified settlement at the time of their construction. This paper will discuss the politics of landscape between imperial politics and local identity, and especially the ritualized politics of water at the time of the last few centuries of the Hittite Empire, just prior to its collapse in the early 12th century BCE.


Ömür Harmanşah is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago's School of Art and Art History. He is an archaeologist and architectural historian specializing in the Ancient Near East. His work focuses on cities, the production of architectural space, critical studies of place and landscape, and imagemaking practices in the urban and rural environments. He is the author of two monographs, Cities and the Shaping of Memory in the Ancient Near East (Cambridge 2013) and Place Memory and Healing: An Archaeology of Anatolian Rock Monuments (Routledge 2015). His more recent work and teaching centers on the intersection between political ecology, new materialism, and the politics of heritage and archaeological practice in the Middle East. Since 2010, he has been directing the Yalburt Yaylası Archaeological Landscape Project in west central Turkey, a regional survey project addressing questions of Hittite imperialism and borderlands.

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Adrienne Frie


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