Motif and Milieu: Deconstructing the (Re)production of the Kura-Araxes Culture (3500-2400 BC)

Author(s): Gabrielle Borenstein

Year: 2017


How do material remains – and the imagery that adorns them – inform our understanding of past landscapes? How does knowledge of landscapes enrich our understanding of the objects produced within them? This paper explores the relationship between iconography and environment in the Early Bronze Age Kura-Araxes (3500-2400 BC) culture. The Kura-Araxes was arguably the most widespread archaeological horizon in the ancient Near East, extending from the Caucasus to the Levant to the Zagros Mountains. Marked by a common material assemblage, research to date has prioritized the degree of uniformity and geographical extent of the culture across the diverse topography. Using new data from the site of Gegharot in Armenia as a lens, this paper quantitatively and qualitatively investigates the relationship between motif and milieu. It examines the imagery present on ceramic vessels, plaques, and hearths as a means not only of assessing regional variability throughout the ecumene, but also of deconstructing the co-constitutive nature of people, pots, places, and politics. Moving beyond categorical and typological systems of classification, this paper considers how communities of practice are formed, in part, as a result of common experiences in a shared landscape.

Cite this Record

Motif and Milieu: Deconstructing the (Re)production of the Kura-Araxes Culture (3500-2400 BC). Gabrielle Borenstein. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430454)


Geographic Keywords
West Asia

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17322