Bronze, writing, and communication in the ancient Caucasus

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The Archaeology of Ancient Southwest Asia: Investigating the Human Past in the Vedi River Valley of Armenia

Professor Peter Cobb
School of Humanities
The University of Hong Kong

Date and Time: April 9, 2024 | 12:30-1:30 pm (HKT) / April 8, 2024 | 9:30-10:30 pm (PDT)
Venue: Lecture Hall at May Hall, HKU

Join us in person at May Hall or via Zoom using the following link:

(Light refreshments will be served for those attending the seminar in person)


This talk briefly introduces HKU's ongoing archaeological fieldwork in the South Caucasian country of Armenia.  Located at the intersection of three continents, ancient Southwest Asia (also known as the Ancient Near East), saw many early developments in complex human society, from agriculture to writing and cities.  In collaboration with the Armenian Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, HKU is researching a small area within the mountainous northern part of this region, the Vedi River valley of Armenia.  This valley was always an important transportation route between the fertile Ararat Plain to the west and the resource rich mountain ranges to the east.  Thus, in the Late Bronze Age, around 1500BCE, a local polity arose and fortified a prominent hill protecting the entrance to the valley, thus controlling mobility through the valley.  This site, called the Vedi Fortress, was used until about 800BCE when it was likely burned and abandoned.  However, given the prominence of the site and its existing monumental fortification walls, it was reused periodically, especially during the Late Antique/Early Medieval period of around 450-650CE, when Armenia was under Sassanian Persian Suzerainty. 


About the Speaker

Professor Cobb teaches courses on archaeological methods and theories and the archaeology of the ancient world, including experiential learning classes abroad. He has conducted archaeological fieldwork in Armenia, Laos, and Turkey, and is currently the director of the Ararat Plain Southeast Archaeological Project (APSAP) in collaboration with the Armenian Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography. His research focuses on the Late Bronze and Iron Ages (ca 1600 BCE-600 CE) of the Eastern Mediterranean and ancient Southwest Asia (aka the Ancient Near East). Professor Cobb is a specialist in the analysis of ancient ceramics and in digital humanities (DH). He serves as a Deputy Director of the BA program in Humanities and Digital Technologies in the Faculty of Arts at HKU.

We've been talking a lot about the ancient Southwest and Bronze lately, but in China.  Today we switch to Bronze Age archeology in Southwest Asia, and the topic is equally compelling.  For those who join the talk by Professor Cobb, either online or in person, I encourage you to listen carefully to anything he may have to say about language and writing, and perhaps even ask a question or two on those subjects.

Armenian (endonym: հայերեն (reformed), հայերէն (classical), hayeren, pronounced [hɑjɛˈɾɛn]) is an Indo-European language and the sole member of an independent branch of that language family. It is the native language of the Armenian people and the official language of Armenia. Historically spoken in the Armenian highlands, today Armenian is widely spoken throughout the Armenian diaspora. Armenian is written in its own writing system, the Armenian alphabet, introduced in 405 AD by the canonized saint Mesrop Mashtots. The estimated number of Armenian speakers worldwide is between five and seven million.


Selected readings

[Thanks to Geoff Wade]

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