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Postdoctoral Project

Transfer of Knowledge and Materials between the Near East and South Asia in the Late Fourth and Early Third Millennium B.C.
Federica Lume Pereira (M.A.)

The present project studies a transcultural phenomenon of the late 4th and 3rd millennium B.C. It regards intercultural contacts that manifest themselves in several regions encompassing vast areas of Central and South Asia, Mesopotamia, the Persian Gulf and parts of the Eastern Mediterranean.  These contacts are mainly visible in the transfer of raw materials (e.g. carnelian and other semi-precious stones), technologies (e.g. stone- and metalworking), luxury items (e.g. beads, silver and gold-metalwork, seashell, ivory and fine timber) and imagery (especially visible on seals) over large distances. Exchanged materials, objects and their imitations are of great importance in reconstructing the materiality of cultures. This study, however, will focus on the question of how knowledge attached to certain materials may have been transferred, transformed and appropriated in the context of this exchange.

My study offers a contextual approach to these questions and goes beyond the prevailing focus on the origins and distribution of materials and objects. While it will include the pertinent archaeological material discovered in recent years, it will also shed light on materials and technologies like metalworking and pottery production, that have not yet been studied under these premises. Furthermore, by studying the first major overseas and long-distance contacts of the 4th millennium B.C., I will try to elucidate the impulses that led to thriving contacts during the second half of the 3rd millennium B.C. Finally, the aim of my project is to determine if and how knowledge was transferred in the wake of exchanged materials and to appraise its impact on the so called “basic capital” (economic, social, cultural and symbolic) of the participants, paying special attention to the development of new forms and practices.