Article Title

Settlement Placement and Socio-Economic Priorities: Dynamic Landscapes in Bronze Age Transylvania

Type of Work

Article

Date

6-2018

Journal Title

Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports

Journal ISSN

2352-409X

Journal Volume

19

First Page

936

Last Page

948

DOI

10.1016/j.jasrep.2017.05.046

Abstract

The Bronze Age was a period of significant socio-economic transformation that gave rise to the first complex regional polities with institutionalized inequality in Europe. Communities in southwest Transylvania, a major source of gold, copper, and salt, played a critical role in this transformation. This article examines how socio-economic changes affected how people situated settlements in resource procurement zones during the Early and Middle Bronze Age (2700–1500 cal. BCE). Taking advantage of the heterogeneous distribution of natural resources across the landscape, a GIS catchment analysis of the orientation of settlements toward particular constellations of resources is presented. Our results show increased preference for access to high quality agricultural land and access to interregional trade through the Mureș River corridor over the course of the Bronze Age. Despite the increased importance of metal within Bronze Age economies, there is no evidence that Transylvanian communities placed their settlements to maximize their ability to contest or secure access to the metal ore sources in the Apuseni Mountains. The organization of settlement systems in the Bronze Age demonstrates that Transylvanian communities prioritized socio-economic institutions beyond metal procurement. This study demonstrates that tracing how humans situate themselves in variable landscapes can provide new insights into the conditions and mechanisms of social change.

Hamilton Areas of Study

Anthropology

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