HiStories of an imperial and colonial landscape? An archaeological study of the mountains of the southern Black Sea during the Achaemenid Persian period
Tue, March 18, 2014 • 12:00 PM • CAL 516: Reading Room
Ancient Near East Lecture Series presents Peri Johnson Ph.D.
From Herodotus, the father of east-west discursive conflict, to the mercenary Xenophon, Greek historians have constructed stereotypes of the inhabitants of the mountainous valleys inland from the southern Black Sea as uncivilized and capricious. Revisiting these stereotypes, modern historians have found their own imperial imaginations in antiquity and written stories of primitive peoples or chiefdoms on the edge of empire in the process of forming secondary states. Focusing on models of progress and imperialism from the perspective of the imperial center, however, overlooks the violence of imperial expansion both on the ground and in the writing of its histories. This talk focuses on the region of contemporary northern central Turkey that becomes known as Paphlagonia during the Achaemenid Empire (c. 550-330 BCE). Beginning with an inquiry into how best to understand historical discursive stereotypes within the context of expansion, the talk will turn to the archaeological changes in the landscape of Paphlagonia during the Achaemenid period. Moving beyond imperialism to colonialism, the talk will end with a discussion of how histories of the Achaemenids discursively participate in Greek colonialism along the Aegean and Black Sea coasts. Through a comparison of several burial monuments of the Achaemenid elites in the region, we will grapple with the Achaemenid-Greek dichotomy of inland landholding and coastal urbanism.
Peri Johnson is an archaeologist who received her doctoral degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 2010 with a specialization in the archaeology of the western Achaemenid Empire. Her scholarship focuses on the imbrication of politics and archaeological interpretation, and the practice of archaeology in Turkey. She taught a seminar on the politics of archaeology in the Middle East in the Dept. of MES in the fall. She is also the field director of the Yalburt Yaylası Archaeological Landscape Research Project located on the Anatolian Plateau and the survey component of the Pompeiopolis in Paphlagonien Project in Turkey's northern mountains.