From Passive Periphery to Active Agents: Emerging Perspectives in the Archaeology of Interregional Interaction



Traditional archaeological approaches to interregional interaction or culture contact have relied on unidirectional, Eurocentric interpretive frameworks such as the world systems and acculturation models. More recently, researchers from diverse fields such as prehistoric archaeology, the archaeology of ancient literate societies, and historical archaeology have begun to develop a new perspective on interregional interaction. Problems with these more traditional approaches to the archaeology of interregional interaction are summarized, and the main elements are outlined for a new research perspective to study culture contact. A set of methods are suggested to translate this theoretical framework into effective field research. Finally, the expansion of Mesopotamia in the fourth millennium B.C. Uruk period is presented as a case study to illustrate some of the ways that models derived from this emerging perspective can be used to better understand interregional interaction in the world's earliest known colonial system. [Keywords: interregional interaction, culture contact, colonies, trade diasporas, Mesopotamia]