The Fragile Crescent Project (FCP) is analyzing the rise and decline of Bronze Age urban settlements and associated political and economic structures in the ancient Near East between ca. 3500 and 1200 BC. The Near East is a key area for urban development; but for too long the settlement record from Southern Mesopotamia has been taken as the paradigm for the entire region, and has provided the key data for the reconstruction of the processes of urbanism and state development. Evidence from surveys in northern Mesopotamia and the Levant suggest not only that developments there were very different from those of southern Mesopotamia, but there was marked diversity between different sub-regions. Recent overviews highlight the need for a comprehensive review of the settlement record, and the FCP is an attempt to rectify this lacuna.\ud In order to tackle the diversity of Early Bronze Age urbanization the FCP is harnessing data on trends in settlement drived from as large an area as possible, and, in turn, is relating these data to the regional environment. This requires the creation of a large-scale and coherent set of high quality settlement data to tackle specific questions fundamental to the economic and social dimension of the rise of early states and civilizations. The Fragile Crescent Project is enhancing the value of a series of earlier and ongoing regional surveys by analyzing the data within a single geographical and environmental framework, specifically by taking advantage of recent advances in the use of satellite imagery and digital terrain models. Consequently this is a project that has only recently become possible through the convergence of a range of digital technologies. The core methodology of the project is to re-analyze “sample” surveys, the data from which is readily available, and to re-calibrate these within a GIS framework. Remote sensing is used to identify, confirm and provide a landscape context for sites previously recorded in the field (i.e. within existing survey areas) and also provides data on areas that were not surveyed. The FCP therefore is able to extend existing surveys to encompass larger geographical areas that appear more meaningful for the analysis of questions of urban development. The paper demonstrates the value of landscale analysis of high spatial resolution optical imagery and digital terrain models derived from modern and declassified satellite data
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