AAA Annual Meeting Program

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Paper Information:
Type: Paper
Paper Title: COUNTERNARRATIVES OF COLLAPSE: VIOLENCE, DISORDER, AND RESTORATION IN THE SOUTH CAUCASUS, 1200-200 BC
Author: LORI KHATCHADOURIAN (Cornell University), ADAM SMITH (University of Chicago)   
Date/Time: Thu., 9:30 AM
Co-Author(s): LORI KHATCHADOURIAN (Cornell University), ADAM SMITH (University of Chicago) 
Abstract: Two primary metaphors have long shaped archaeology’s understanding of socio-political disintegration: an organic trope of rise and fall borrowed from historians such as Gibbon and Toynbee and a mechanical trope of integration and failure borrowed from systems theory. As Norman Yoffee has pointed out in a series of critical interventions, both accounts tend to simultaneously homogenize distinct forms of social decomposition (conflating political, social, and cultural transformations) and obscure the locations of rupture within specific structuring institutions and legitimizing ideologies. Yoffee’s re-working of an archaeology of collapse has opened critical terrain for tracing the interlaced practices that either uphold traditions or erode them, that re-inscribe memories or efface them. The polities that governed the South Caucasus from late prehistory to the early historical era provide fitting cases for exploring and extending Yoffee’s arguments about collapse, in so far as this region’s socio-political trajectory over the longue durée defies conventional narratives of complexity. Drawing on ongoing field research in the Republic of Armenia, this paper examines three episodes of collapse: the decline of the Late Bronze Age fortress polities in the 12th century BC, the demise of the Urartian Empire in the late 7th century BC, and the end of Achaemenid Persian imperial hegemony in the 4th century BC. Each account wrestles to explain the causative agency of political violence and political disorder, and to understand the ways in which the restoration of institutionalized politics in the aftermath of dissolution hinges upon both the repudiation and reappropriation of the past.

Program Number: 2-0225
Session Title: COUNTERNARRATIVES OF STATE, CIVILIZATION, AND HISTORY: PAPERS IN HONOR OF NORMAN YOFFEE
Session Sponsor: Archaeology Division
Session Date/Time: Thu., 8:00 AM-11:45 AM
Organizer(s): GEOFF EMBERLING, ADAM SMITH (University of Chicago), LORI KHATCHADOURIAN (Cornell University) 
Chair(s): GEOFF EMBERLING, ADAM SMITH (University of Chicago), LORI KHATCHADOURIAN (Cornell University)  
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