4 Mobility, Territorial Commitments, and Political Organization among Late Bronze Age Polities in Southern Caucasia



In this case study of territoriality in Armenia's Late Bronze Age Tsaghkahovit Plain we examine land claims and political relations among fortified communities with highly varied subsistence and economic practices, including mobile pastoralism. Integral to political relations between fortress-based institutions and mobile subjects was the need to create highly legible places for political subjection, authorization, and action. However, the same social, political, economic, and religious institutions that help elucidate the spatial dimensions of politics in the LBA—shrines, workshops, storage spaces, cemeteries—also demonstrate that political claims and commitments to land did not likely resemble the neat borders of absolutist cartographies essential to modern nation-states. We detail potential models of territorial organization that incorporate the strategies of rule and socioeconomic dynamics derived from a decade of archaeological survey and excavation on the plain by Project ArAGATS. [mobility, complex polities, land, landscape, political economy]