The Fortress Refigured: Authority and Community in the South Caucasus (ca. 1500-300 BC)

Author(s): Lori Khatchadourian; Ian Lindsay

Year: 2015


In many world regions, the mountain fortress has long stood as little more than a practical instrument of institutionalized force. Such reductionism obscures more than it reveals, for fortresses are equally salient as projects of communal labor, mediators in the making of subjects and authorities, and objects of contestation, curation, and commemoration. In the South Caucasus, fortresses played a crucial role in the reproduction of polities from the Late Bronze Age to the mid-first millennium BC. Based on research in Armenia, this paper tracks the shifting role of the fortress in forging political associations from the earliest complex polities to the age of empires. For centuries, authorities of southern Caucasia relied upon fortresses and the range of esoteric and governmental practices they hosted to bind seasonably mobile communities in a shared sense of identity and obligation. However, with the collapse of the Urartian Empire, communities living under Persian rule brought about a transformation in the logics of political order: opting out of a politics premised on steep social asymmetries, they recast this once pivotal apparatus of sovereignty into an object of ambivalence—at once indispensible to the reorganization of social life but also a focus of collective repudiation and redefinition.

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Cite this Record

The Fortress Refigured: Authority and Community in the South Caucasus (ca. 1500-300 BC). Lori Khatchadourian, Ian Lindsay. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396196)


Geographic Keywords
West Asia

Spatial Coverage

min long: 25.225; min lat: 15.115 ; max long: 66.709; max lat: 45.583 ;