Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology (PhD)

Degree Level





Jesse Casana

Committee Member

Fred Limp

Second Committee Member

Jack Cothren


Social sciences, Earth sciences, Agricultural production, Bronze Age, Iraq, Mesopotamia, Settlement systems, Syria, Turkey


This study investigates the relationship between rainfall variation and rain-fed agricultural production in Upper Mesopotamia with a specific focus on Early Bronze Age urban settlements. In return, the variation in production is used to explore stability of urban settlement systems. The organization of the flow of agricultural goods is the key to sustaining the total settlement system.

The vulnerability of a settlement system increases due to the increased demand for more output from agricultural lands. This demand is the key for the success of urbanization project. However, without estimating how many foodstuffs were available at the end of a production cycle, further discussions on the forces that shaped and sustained urban settlement systems will be lacking. While large scale fluctuations in the flow of agricultural products between settlements are not the only determinants of hierarchical structures, the total available agricultural yield for each urban settlement in a hierarchy must have influenced settlement relations.

As for the methodology, first, Early Bronze Age precipitation levels are estimated by using modern day associations between the eastern Mediterranean coastal areas and the inner regions of Upper Mesopotamia. Next, these levels are integrated into a remote-sensing based biological growth model. Also, a CORONA satellite imagery based archaeological survey is conducted in order to map the Early Bronze Age settlement system in its entirety as well as the ancient markers of agricultural intensification. Finally, ancient agricultural production landscapes are modeled in a GIS.

The study takes a critical position towards the traditionally held assumption that large urban settlements (cities) in Upper Mesopotamia were in a state of constant demand for food. The results from this study also suggest that when variations in ancient precipitation levels are translated into the variations in production levels, the impact of climatic aridification on ancient settlement systems becomes less visible in the archaeological record.