Kepa Martinez Garcia 

Title:  Inter-urban Relations and Territorial Articulation of the Mesopotamian Floodplain During the Early Bronze Age (ca. 3100 – 2334 BC).

University: University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU)

Supervisor: Josué Justel Vicente

Abstract: The purpose of this dissertation is to analyse how relations between the urban communities of Lower Mesopotamia influenced the territorial organisation during the Djemdet-Nasr and Early Dynastic periods. The hypothesis to be tested is that the holistic study of Sumerian sphragistics makes it possible to determine the identity of each urban community and to identify various types of functional relationships between them.

The topic of identity invites us to revisit the term ‘kalam’. This word could reflect a cultural unity that was not so much the achievement of a “Sumerian” identity as the result of the coexistence of several local identities, which came into conflict or complemented each other according to the social, cultural, religious or political needs of the time. Reconstructing the evolution of the identities of these urban centres and the cognitive maps they generated will allow for various historical interpretations: hierarchy of centrality, connectivity of urban centres, social relations, cultural appropriation of spaces and symbols, etc.

In order to determine the identity traits of these communities, cylinder seals from four urban centres (Uruk, Ur, Girsu and Nippur) will be thoroughly analysed. Seals will be treated as prestige items that allowed certain individuals, social groups and institutions to distinguish themselves, to show their status in public and to arrange self-representation strategies in the many relations with other communities. The social reading of indicators such as technical operational chains, function, semiotics and reception will allow a better understanding of this period and the formation of the discourse of power in early monarchies.

Keywords: Early Dynastic, Cylinder Seals, Identities, Inter-urban Relations