Cultivating subjects in the Neo-Assyrian empire

Melissa S. Rosenzweig*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This article, which centers upon the Neo-Assyrian empire of the early first millennium BCE, presents agriculture as a field of political intervention and transformation in the creation of imperial subjectivities. As part of the expansion process into territories of Upper Mesopotamia, Neo-Assyrian rulers (ca. 900–600 BCE) relied on settled agriculture to produce and promote imperial subjects bound to the authorities for whom they tilled and toiled. However, archaeobotanical data from Tušhan, a provincial capital of the empire, reveals that people under Neo-Assyria’s control did not fully conform to the idealized agrarian lifeways construed by officials to uphold Assyrian power and dictate subject conduct. Evidence for semi-nomadic pastoralism at Tušhan exposes the slippage between ideal agrarian subject and actual agrarian practice in the Neo-Assyrian empire, wherein lies the contestation over politically oriented subjectivities and their instantiation through land-use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-334
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Social Archaeology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • agriculture
  • imperialism
  • Neo-Assyria
  • Political subjectivity
  • Ziyaret Tepe/Tušhan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Archaeology

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