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Call for proposals of papers and posters to be presented:

C 53 – A New Dawn for the Dark Age?
Shifting Paradigms in Mediterranean Iron Age Chronology
(Dirk Brandherm, Martin Trachsel)

Much of our current chronological framework for the first half of the last millennium BC in the Mediterranean was established before the advent of science-based dating methods. Ultimately, this framework still rests on ‘historical’ dates attributed to the various styles of Greek Geometric pottery, which are partly based on information provided by ancient authors, and partly derived from Near Eastern chronology through imports of Greek pottery in the Levant.

For several decades then, our conventional chronology has remained largely unchanged, although dendro-dates and calibrated radiocarbon dates have come into increasing conflict with our established framework. The resulting problems are thrown into particularly sharp relief where ‘indigenous’ chronologies from the non-classical Mediterranean lands, established by scientific methods, conflict with the conventional dating of Greek and Phoenician imports.

Such is the case e.g. in Italy, southern France and the Iberian Peninsula, where the solution all too often has been to explain away the resulting discrepancies by resorting to ad hoc concepts such as ‘heirloom theories’, ill-defined ‘transitional phases’ or similar ruses, mostly avoiding any discussion of the underlying methodological issues. In order to address these, a broader approach is needed, which pays particular attention to the specific problems raised by the juxtaposition of ‘historical’ and science-based dates.

The same problems currently plague chronological discussion at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, where fresh data in recent years have brought about a renewed and rather controversial debate concerning Levantine Iron Age chronology. As imports of Greek Geometric pottery from some of the relevant Syro-Palestinian sites in the past have been employed to extrapolate ‘historical’ dates not only for Dark Age Greece, but also for early Greek and Phoenician activities abroad, any changes in the East are bound to knock-on and affect the Iron Age absolute chronology of Mediterranean cultures from Italy to the Iberian Peninsula, and beyond.

Recent discussions of chronological issues in different parts of the Mediterranean have all too often taken place in isolation from each other, rarely addressing the underlying methodological issues in a coherent manner. Thus the principal aim of this colloquium is to overcome the restrictions of regional or other specialisations and to provide a forum for a truely interdisciplinary discourse, in the broadest sense, bringing together scholars from all relevant areas of interest, be they experts in science-based dating methods, in Biblical, Phoenician and Greek archaeology, or any other field of Mediterranean Iron Age archaeology. We are convinced that by analysing and comparing the problems encountered at different points of contact between distinct regional chronologies, new perspectives for their solution will open up.

The colloquium will be structured in four thematic blocks:

General methodological questions: relating material culture to dendrochronology, radiocarbon and historical dates

Recent advances in Near Eastern Iron Age archaeology and their repercussions on the chronology of Greek Geometric pottery

Chronological issues in Dark Age Greece and the Aegean

Dating early Greek and Phoenician activities abroad: ‘imported’ vs. ‘indigenous’ chronologies throughout the Mediterranean

Each of these blocks is planned to accomodate a maximum number of eight contributions, with a duration of 30 minutes each. It should be noted that the four thematic blocks are only meant to provide a general structure for the colloquium, and contributors are actively encouraged to establish interconnections between these fields. Posters relevant to the subject of the colloquium may be presented as well. They should not exceed two panels with a maximum width of 90 cm each.

Papers as well as posters must be presented in English or French and will be published in a dedicated colloquium volume as part of the XV UISPP congress proceedings. Any proposals for contributions (papers and posters) must be received by 30th September 2005, and are subject to approval by the colloquium organizers.

For the pre-congress publication, all contributors will have to submit an abstract (200–300 words, English or French) of their paper or poster by 31st December 2005. The abstract must include the exact title of the respective contribution, three to five key-words, and the name(s) of the author(s). Abstracts are to be submitted (preferably in WordPerfect or Rich-Text Format) by either e-mail or post; in the latter case including a printed copy as well as a diskette.

Contact address:

Dr. Dirk Brandherm
Institut für Archäologische Wissenschaften
Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Universitätsstrasse 150 (GA 6/56–60)
D-44780 Bochum


Looking forward to meeting you in Lisbon, with kindest regards from the colloquium organizers,
Dirk Brandherm (Ruhr-Universität Bochum) – Martin Trachsel (Universität Zürich)

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