Prometheus Unbound: Southern Caucasia in Prehistory

Smith, Adam
December 2005
Journal of World Prehistory;Dec2005, Vol. 19 Issue 4, p229
Academic Journal
This paper examines the intellectual traditions and recent advances in the archaeology of the Bronze and Iron Ages of the South Caucasus. The first goal of the paper is to provide an account of the scholarly traditions that have oriented research in the region since the mid-nineteenth century. This discussion provides a detailed case study of an archaeological tradition that arose within the context of Russian and Soviet research—traditions still poorly understood within Western archaeology. Yet archaeology in the South Caucasus was strongly influenced by international research in neighboring southwest Asia, and thus the region’s intellectual currents often diverged from the debates and priorities that predominated in Moscow. The second goal of this paper is to outline the primary issues that orient contemporary work in the region from the Neolithic through the Urartian period. My interest here is both didactic and prognostic. While I am concerned to fairly represent the primary foci of contemporary regional scholarship, I also make an argument for a deeper investigation of the constitution of social life. Such studies are critical to the advancement of archaeology in the South Caucasus over the coming decade.


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