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Abstract

Tell Atchana, ancient Alalakh, was the seat of the territorial kingdom of Mukiš during the 2nd millennium BC with extensive trade ties to the wider Near East. Part of the urban fabric of this city was an active metallurgical industry characterized by several workshops located within the palace walls and the lower town. A sociotechnical systems perspective provides the background for evaluating the processes and social relations that structured the metallurgical industry and its associated technologies at Alalakh from approximately 1600-1200 BC. This work demonstrates the long-term presence of two parallel specialized metallurgical industries; one palace-based, small-scale, routinized and tapped into long-distance exchange networks, the other, vernacular, larger-scale, technically sophisticated, multi-craft, and based on the use of specific central Anatolian ore deposits and other montane resources. At an archaeological and historical level, my results de-center the Near Eastern palace economy as a driver of technological development and economic expansion and show that state power beyond the palace walls was more limited than generally considered. Methodologically, this work shows the power of multi-method archaeometallurgical studies for answering questions of broad social and historical significance when thoroughly contextualized. Finally, of key importance is a demonstration that craftspeople at Alalakh used their unique technological system to resist hierarchical organization and co-optation even as they helped contribute to its political complexity. In addition to the data presented here in the appendices, all analytical data including compositional values, contextual data, and an extensive micrograph collection has been made publicly available thanks to a Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (DDRI) from the National Science Foundation (Grant# 1902723).

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