NEAF Lecture: The Iron Age Megacity on Kerkenes Dağ
Joseph (Seppi) Lehner | Amanda Dusting
The Iron Age Megacity on Kerkenes Dağ
After the collapse of the Hittite Empire in central Anatolia ca. 1200 BC, a new political order emerged over several centuries in the Iron Age. Archaeologists refer to this as Phrygia, with famous sites like Gordion producing fascinating discoveries that brought to light this elusive society. Evolving out of an environment of intense regional geopolitical conflict, a massive new urban foundation was built on low rising mountain of Kerkenes Dağ in eastern Central Anatolia. Founded sometime in the late 7th/early 6th century BC, this 270 hectare megacity with 7.5kms of city walls – perhaps the largest pre-Hellenistic city in Anatolia – was completely destroyed and abandoned a few generations later in ca. 540 BC. Nearly 30 years of research at the site, including extensive subsurface remote sensing, targeted excavation, and agent-based simulations, have revealed subtleties of everyday life and monumentality that every year provide surprises. This talk will describe on-going research at the site – including most results from our 2022 campaign – to highlight how the city developed and was likely destroyed; how trade and war structured urban life at the city; and, how Kerkenes represents now a prime example of how the evolution of urban societies is a varied and oftentimes unsuccessful process
Joseph (Seppi) Lehner is an anthropological archaeologist who specializes in early complex societies of southwestern Asia. Seppi is co-director of the Kerkenes Project and currently an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow at the University of Sydney. He finished his PhD at the UCLA Cotsen Institute of Archaeology and is a past Alexander von Humboldt German Chancellor Fellow at the University of Tübingen and a Senior Fellow at the Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations at Koç University in Istanbul. He also directs field projects elsewhere in Turkey and Oman.
Amanda Dusting is a graduate of the University of Sydney, she did her PhD in Near Eastern Archaeology on the Achaemenid Architecture of Qal’eh Kali, Fars Province, Iran. Amanda has excavated extensively in the Near East and Mediterranean and she is currently a freelance Excavation Director for Historical sites in Australia. She has an ongoing involvement with training Iraqi heritage professionals in Iraqi Kurdistan for the British Museum as part of the Iraq Emergency Training Scheme. Most recently Amanda was part of the Kerkenes Dag 2022 field season with the University of Central Florida as a trench supervisor.
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