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Morello, Nathan (2015): Frontiers and Fortifications in Assyria: an introduction. In: Affanni, Giorgio; Baccarin, Cristina; Cordera, Laura; Michele, Angelo di and Gavagnin, Katia (eds.) : Broadening Horizons 4. A Conference of young researchers working in the Ancient Near East, Egypt and Central Asia, University of Torino, October 2011. BAR International Series, Vol. 2698. Oxford: Archaeopress. pp. 241-248 [PDF, 1MB]

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The purpose of this paper is to give a bird’s-eye view on the textual and archaeological sources and their relevant interpretations on the role of fortied settlements in the creation and maintenance of the Assyrian frontiers. In the first part of the paper, I briefly discuss a methodological problem of interpretation of the many terms for ‘border/frontier’ and for different kinds of human settlements. In particular, three fortifications, typically found in frontier contexts, are analysed in their architectural features and main functions. They are the ‘fortified farmstead’ (attested only for the Middle-Assyrian period), the fortified ‘military camp’, and the military ‘fortress’. If the first had a primary purpose of farming, and very little military use, the other two were essentially military premises, which had, especially the fortress, many different functions (defence, vigilance, control, territorial exploitation) in the frontier policies of the Assyrian Empire. In the second part of the paper, I analyse the changes in the territorial control and the shifting of frontiers between Middle Assyrian and Neo-Assyrian period, with a particular interest for the transition phase between 12th and 10th century BC.

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