Report on BIPS/BIAA/BISI/CBRL co-funded workshop “Innovation, interaction and interconnection in the Taurus-Zagros arc and beyond, 10,000-5000BC”, METU, Ankara, December 10-11, 2016.
As a whole, the Ancient Iran and Its Neighbours in Pre- and Early-History programme is focusing on the investigation of themes related to the role played by the Iranian Plateau in major phases of human cultural development. This programme provides opportunities for scholars to explore the processes of human cultural development, and the communication and interaction dynamics that operated between the populations that lived on the Iranian Plateau and those living in the neighbouring regions. For this event, we were particularly interested in exploring the dynamics with the regions to the west (greater Mesopotamian plains and Anatolia), north (Central Asian plains and oases), and to some extent the east (Indus plains).
This event was designed to be a focused research workshop that would bring together the resources and collaborative opportunities that are made possible through the involvement of all four of the British Institutes engaged with research in Western Asia: the BIPS, the BIAA, the BISI, and the CBRL. The importance of cooperation is heightened by the current political situation across Western Asia, which means that opportunities for colleagues to collaborate and interact are extremely limited.
In the view of both the organisers and the attendees, the event was highly successful, particularly in terms of providing an ideal opportunity to build institutional links through the contexts of discussion of the interactive dynamics of the Neolithic.
A total of 18 papers were presented, and in addressing the three “I’s” of the conference (“Innovation, interaction and interconnection”), topics ranged in geographical space from the Aegean coast to the Caucasus and the northern and southern arms of the Iranian Plateau, and in thematic scope from the origins of corporate behaviour, genomics, experimental archaeology, craft production, sedentism, and adaptability. Details of the presenters, topics and abstracts are included in the attached programme and abstract booklet.
Described by one attendee as “visionary”, the event was very much a collaboration between the BIPS, the BIAA, the BISI, and the CBRL, with each providing intellectual input, logistical support, and funding, with the latter being used to bring presenters from various countries, and to host them at METU. The co-organisers of the workshop would specifically like to thank Mehmet Somel from METU, Gökhan Mustafaoğlu from Bülent Ecevit University, Zonguldak, and Lutgarde Vandeput, Gülgün Girdivan and Işılay Gürsu from BIAA, who all provided essential logistical and administrative support.
As hoped, this event has laid the groundwork for further events in coming years, and arrangements are in train to publish some or even all of the papers presented. The success of the event is also highlighted by the fact that it contributed directly to the creation of a bid for Global Challenges Research Fund support entitled “Agri-Cultural Origins Network (ACORN); Community Archaeology in the Middle East”, which has now been submitted through Reading University (PI Prof. R. Matthews). This initiative intends to incorporate all of the core team involved in the organization of the Ankara event. It will also engage with the same four British Institutes, and collaborate with METU and many of the scholars that presented papers at the workshop.