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Community Identity and Archaeology

Dynamic Communities at Aphrodisias and Beycesultan

Naoíse Mac Sweeney

Publication Year: 2011

Community Identity and Archaeology explores the concept of community identity and its application in archaeology, using the modern Turkish sites of Aphrodisias and Beycesultan as case studies to illustrate the formation and dissolution of communities over time. The concept of the community is vital to the way we understand human societies both past and present, and the last decade has seen widespread interest in communities from both the popular and academic spheres. The concept is also central to archaeology, where the relationship between sites and communities remains controversial. Naoíse Mac Sweeney aims to take the debate one step further, setting out a comprehensive framework for the archaeological investigation of community identity, encompassing theoretical approaches for its conceptualization, practical methodologies for its investigation, and detailed case studies in Anatolia to test and illustrate its arguments. This book contributes to discussions in archaeological theory and material culture studies and is particularly relevant to archaeologists working on different types of cultural identity. Community Identity and Archaeology’s readership will include undergraduate and graduate students as well as academic specialists. In addition, the book contains material of direct historical interest for Classics and Near Eastern departments. It includes valuable new research relevant for those working on Aegean, Mycenaean, or Early Greek antiquity, as well as specialists in Anatolia including scholars working on the Hittite, Phrygian, and Lydian empires.

Published by: University of Michigan Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

This book grew out of my doctoral thesis, which was completed at the University of Cambridge in 2007. I had initially set out to explore the fluid ethnicities of western Anatolia during the Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages, but I quickly realized that groups in this area did not define themselves primarily in ethnic terms. Instead, they seemed to come together around a more geographically focused form of identity. At the time, the ...


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Chapter One: Introduction

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pp. 1-8

The “community” is a concept central to human society yet frustratingly difficult to define. It can mean the inhabitants of a village or a neighborhood or the members of a profession, a religion, or a political lobby group. Ethnicity, sexuality, and sporting allegiance are among the many different factors that can be at its root; and the neighborhood watch, the school fair, and the Internet forum are among the numerous ways it can be manifested. ...

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Chapter Two: Theorizing the Community

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pp. 9-21

The concept of the community is one with a long and rich history. Ideas about communities have been formed and re-formed over the decades, with definitions constantly changing (Bruhn 2005, 29ff.; A. P. Cohen 1985). However, it is possible to trace the first emergence of community as a critical term in social theory back to the late nineteenth century and the work ...

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Chapter Three: Communities in Archaeology

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pp. 22-34

Archaeology has never engaged very closely with the idea of the community. When it comes to the conceptualization of the community, archaeologists have largely followed the broad trends in social theory outlined in the previous chapter. In the early days of the discipline, archaeologists assumed that the community was a naturally occurring social unit, directly equitable with the site or the settlement. Later, in the mid-twentieth ...

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Chapter Four: From Community to Community Identity

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pp. 35-41

The previous two chapters of this book have discussed the concept of the community as it has been approached, first, in disciplines such as geography, sociology, and anthropology and, second, in archaeology. In these chapters, it has been established that the community is primarily a form of identity—a mental construct rather than a natural or structural phenomenon. Arriving at a detailed but theoretically sensitive understanding ...

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Chapter Five: Community Identity and Material Culture

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pp. 42-58

The relationship between culture and identity has been the subject of much academic discussion, with the central issue being how culture, in both its material and nonmaterial forms, relates to identity as a cognitive construct. Identity is now widely seen as a social dialogue formed in the interaction between internal psychology and external lived experience. The active potential of human agency is seen as working around a social ...

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Chapter Six: Overlooked Communities Late Bronze Age and Iron Age Western Anatolia

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pp. 59-93

Chapters 1–5 of this book have established the concept of community identity as a focus for archaeological study and considered the ways it might be investigated through the archaeological record. Chapters 6–8 will put these ideas into practice, examining the changing nature of community identity at two specific locations in western Anatolia—Aphrodisias and Beycesultan. Western Anatolia has already been introduced in ...

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Chapter Seven: Communities under Pressure at Beycesultan

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pp. 94-139

With the exception of Troy, Beycesultan is perhaps the most widely known and frequently discussed site of the western Anatolian Bronze Age (fig. 4). At the time of its main excavation in the 1950s, it was showcased in the popular press as the capital of an important “forgotten nation,” on account of the impressive nature of the remains uncovered ...

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Chapter Eight: Hierarchy and Community at Aphrodisias

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pp. 140-182

Investigating community identity at Aphrodisias presents a very different set of challenges and opportunities from Beycesultan. Aphrodisias differs from Beycesultan both in terms of the type of archaeological material preserved and also in terms of the nature of the site itself. Most notably, Aphrodisias is well known as a Roman site, rather than a prehistoric or protohistoric one. However, the site’s earlier levels were investigated in ...

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Chapter Nine: Conclusions

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pp. 183-193

The previous two chapters have discussed in detail the LBA and IA remains from the sites of Beycesultan and Aphrodisias, both located inland in western Anatolia (see fig. 1 in chapter 1). These intensive studies have highlighted how material culture was actively used at these sites to construct a conscious sense of community identity. This community identity was neither constant nor natural. It had to be deliberately created and ...


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pp. 195-199

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pp. 201-202

The appendixes to this book present the first comprehensive catalog of all known small finds and ceramics from the LBA and EIA levels of both Aphrodisias and Beycesultan. They bring together published data as well as information from archival records and primary analysis. See the chapters on the individual sites for more details. ...

Appendix A: Small Finds from Beycesultan

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pp. 203-208

Appendix B: Ceramics from Beycesultan

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pp. 209-221

Appendix C: Small Finds from Aphrodisias

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pp. 222-230

Appendix D: Ceramics from Aphrodisias

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pp. 231-240


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p. 241


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pp. 243-264


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pp. 265-266

E-ISBN-13: 9780472027651
E-ISBN-10: 0472027654
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472117864
Print-ISBN-10: 0472117866

Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 23 images, 9 tables
Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 768167352
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Community Identity and Archaeology

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Subject Headings

  • Antiquities, Prehistoric -- Turkey.
  • Social archaeology -- Turkey -- Aphrodisias (Extinct city).
  • Social archaeology -- Turkey -- Beycesultan Site.
  • Excavations (Archaeology) -- Turkey.
  • Aphrodisias (Extinct city).
  • Beycesultan Site (Turkey).
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