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ARCANE Project: Synchronizing Cultures and Civilizations of the Ancient Near East and the Eastern Mediterranean in the Third Millennium BC

ARCANE Project: Synchronizing Cultures and Civilizations of the Ancient Near East and the Eastern Mediterranean in the Third Millennium BC

The ultimate goal of the ARCANE project is to produce a reliable relative and absolute chronology of the entire Near East based on the synchronization of regional chronologies for the third millennium BC.

“Third millennium” is a conventional designation corresponding, in fact, to the period called by archaeologists the “Early Bronze Age”. In current terminology, the Early Bronze Age begins during the course or with the end of the fourth millennium, and its end may occur at the beginning of the second millennium, depending on the area. Hence, the chronological focus of the project is the third millennium BC, but the time span considered may infringe more or less on the preceding and following millennia.

Within this long time span, the project intends to review all aspects of the material culture, together with the artistic manifestations, the historical and epigraphic records and the various methods of dating (mainly C14, but also thermo-luminescence, thermo-remanence, dendrochronology, etc.).

Its geographical scope covers the entire Eastern Mediterranean and Near Eastern area, from Egypt to Iran and from Cyprus and Anatolia to the Arab-Persian Gulf.

Within this large territory, the study approach is regional: the aim of the project is first and foremost to achieve the establishment of regional archaeological sequences which will be ultimately synchronized in order to obtain a synthetic view of the Eastern Mediterranean and Near Eastern chronology. Hence the title of the project.

For working purposes, twelve regions have been isolated (see map) on the basis of a preliminary archaeological analysis discussed during the workshops organized in Pisa and Paris. These regions are: Southern Levant (SL), Northern Levant (NL), Cyprus (CY), Aegean (AG), Western & Central Anatolia (WA), Eastern Anatolia (EA), Middle Euphrates (ME), Jezirah (JZ), Tigridian Region (TG), Central Mesopotamia (CM), Southern Mesopotamia (SM), and Western Iran (WI). These regions constitute the operational framework of the Regional Groups.

However, since several archaeological data cannot be treated at a regional level and necessitate a wider treatment, the project has also a transregional, or transversal, dimension: the critical examination of radiocarbon dates, art historical studies, as well as epigraphic and historical evidence need to be considered in a broader framework. They constitute, therefore, the focus of additional research groups, called the Transversal Groups.

ARCANE Project
Modus Operandi
Regional and
Transversal Groups
Publication Phase
New Periodization Table
ARCANE Database
Database Tools
Meeting Reports
Review by E.S.F. independent experts

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