Seven Generations since the Fall of Akkad.

Author:Pruss, Alexander
Position::Book review
 
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Seven Generations since the Fall of Akkad. Edited by harvey weiss. Studia Chaburensia, vol. 3. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2012. Pp. viii + 299, illus. [euro]64 (paper).

This volume presents the results of a workshop held during the 8th ICAANE conference at Warsaw in 2012. It was edited by the organizer of this workshop, Harvey Weiss, and was published with admirable speed and in good quality only a few months after the conference.

The subject of the workshop was the cultural development of the Khabur plains in what we used to call northeast Syria between c. 2300 and 1900 B.c. The flourishing and densely inhabited urban network of the mid-third millennium experienced a critical development towards the end of the millennium. Some sites were completely abandoned while others shrank significantly. The post-Akkadian, Ur III, and Isin-Larsa periods (in terms of the traditional Mesopotamian chronology) or EJZ 4c-5 and OJ I periods (in terms of the ARCANE project) are not well attested and are difficult to grasp in archaeological terms.

While these basic facts are more or less agreed upon by all researchers dealing with this period, there has been much and sometimes fierce argument over the extent, nature, and causes of the crisis. Harvey Weiss, director of excavations at the site of Tell Leilan, has argued for a total collapse in the Khabur region, caused by a "megadrought" and the effects of Akkadian imperialism, which resulted in a settlement hiatus of more than two centuries. Weiss uses the "Seven Generations," which, according to a building inscription of Shamshi-Adad from Nineveh, had passed between the Fall of Akkad and the reign of this ruler, as a label for the period of collapse he proposes; hence the title of the book.

On the contrary, the excavators of several other sites in the region have argued against Weiss' thesis of total collapse and have insisted on the existence of layers from the critical period at their sites.

The Warsaw workshop brought together many of the archaeologists working on material from this critical period from the Khabur region; the relevant regional sites are represented in this book. Most contributors present material from their site and try to put it into the framework of the regional development as they reconstruct it.

Three articles deal with Tell Brak. A. McMahon presents ceramic material from this site and that of Chagar Bazar. Comparisons with ceramic assemblages from central and southern Mesopotamia are used...

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