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The Perfect Storm : A New Multicausal Model of the Political Collapse of Titriș Höyük, an Early Bronze Age City-State in Southeastern Anatolia


An issue that has been the subject of much archaeological attention in recent decades is the collapse of urban centers in northern Mesopotamia at the close of the Early Bronze Age. The causes of this regional contraction have been much debated. One obstacle to resolving this issue is the tendency to view the collapse of cities in this region as a single phenomenon; another, related problem is the tendency of many archaeologists to seek an "ultimate" cause for these events, rather than dealing with each case individually. In this dissertation, I investigate this archaeological phenomenon from a radically different perspective: the "event-based" approach to social transformation developed by historical sociologist William H. Sewell. Sewell's approach to collapse emphasizes the articulation of multiple causal factors as the most effective way to study transformative historical events, including collapses. This study, which focuses on a single urban center -- the site of Titriș Höyük, a small city- state located in the Lower Turkish Euphrates Valley -- rather than the entire region, follows the Sewellian formula in bringing together archaeological, historical, ethnographic, and paleoclimatic evidence to develop a new multicausal model to explain the processes which, acting in concert, brought about the political disintegration of the polity. These data include a considerable body of new stable carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen isotope evidence to demonstrate how climate change; regional political developments; the collapse of long-distance networks of exchange and interaction; and the rise of a competitor, the city of Carchemish; all had an influence upon the decline of Titriș Höyük during the late 3rd millennium BC

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