Putting Production Landscapes into Context: A Multi-Faceted Case Study from Upper Mesopotamia during the Early Bronze Age

Tuna Kalayci


Second half of the Third Millennium BCE (mid-to-late Early Bronze Age) in Upper Mesopotamia was signified by a rapid urbanization period and intensification of agricultural production. Settlement nucleation in tell-based settlements evidently created a new form habitation. Furthermore, developments in the politico-economics (e.g. secondary state formation, textile production as a high-commodity) must have had considerable impacts on agricultural landscapes. In combination of these two events, it is possible that the main determinants of the change in food production were due to the increased demographic pressure and the systematic integration of animal husbandry -as the source of wool.

In order to test this hypothesis, the study provides a quantitative model of the EBA agricultural production for highlighting the relationship between minimum biological requirements and estimates of food levels. Following this model, the discussion focuses on the anomalous variations in production levels under the axiom that high population levels required higher amount of foodstuffs, and thus, must have necessitated more input for the sustainment. Next, it evaluates these variations for different planting strategies (e.g. fallowing) so that a more realistic picture can be drawn. Finally, the model results are re-assessed for its ethnographic corollaries for the issues of agricultural surplus, storage and social stratification.