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6-10-2015, 18:15

DEFENSIBLE SPACE

DefensIble space is a key component of Upper Mesopotamian cities. Defensible space is a conscious effort by residents and city planners

To define urban space by erecting barriers or markers that indicate ownership, enhance security, and discourage or manage passage (Newman 1973:3-4). Persons walking through the city 'read' these markers and understand what kind of space they are entering or passing (de Certeau 1998:98-99; Rapoport 1990). Defensible space plays an important role in defining neighborhoods in a city (Abu-Lughod 1987). Defensible spaces in Upper Mesopotamian cities include gates along the city wall or at entrances to palaces, temples anD other administrative structures, street patterns and types (wide versus narrow) that define neighborhoods, culs-de-sac within residential and administrative contexts, and houses, which are designed to interrupt the line of sight from entrances to inner rooms.

City walls and gates are found in every Upper Mesopotamian city, and gated entrances for major structures are found in most. Within the city, wide main streets demarcate sectors and probably neighborhoods as well. Narrow, branching passageways discourage entry into the heart of residential blocks, generating defensible space (Costa and Noble 1986:165; Biewers 1997:77-80; both cited in During 2006:47). In some cases, neighborhoods may have been bounded by long party walls (e. g., at Leilan, see Ristvet 2005:ig-ure 3.11). Many multiroom houses exhibit defensible space in that they were entered through a small vestibule that functioned as a gate (see Nishimura, Chapter 3 In this volume, for a more detailed discussion of house form and function). This room protected the privacy of inner rooms both by limiting the view from the street and by adding layers of doorways (Rainville 2005:149; also see Nishimura, Chapter 3 In this volume, Figure 3.4). Smaller houses, such as those with just one or two rooms, did not have the luxury of a vestibule. Another form of defensible space in these cities are culs-de-sac, found in residential areas at Chuera, Beydar, Titri§, and Taya (Figure 2.7) (Pfalzner 1997:Abbildung 11; Lebeau and Suleiman 2008:9, street east of "Tablet House" and south of House 6; Algaze et al. 2001:igure 2; Rainville 2005:igure 5.7b; Reade 1973:plates LIX, LX, LXI), and in elite or administrative areas at Beydar and Kazane (Lebeau and Suleiman 2003:plan 7 [approach to palace]; Creekmore 2008:igure 4.5). Culs-de-sac are also very likely present at Al-Rawda within dense housing blocks, although published plans do not permIt their identification.

Figure 2.7 Examples of culs-de-sac in Upper Mesopotamian cities.


A: Tell Chuera - Area K, excavated houses, period EJ Illa (2600-2450 BC). Redrawn after Pfalzner 1997: Abb. 11. B: Beydar - Area B, excavated houses and special-use structures (large blocks to the south), period EJ Illb phase 3c (2450-2300 BC). After Lebeau and Suleiman 2008:9. C: Kazane - Area 1 / F, magnetometry plan, and excavated structures (dark, thick lines), (ca. 2500-2300 BC). After Creekmore 2010:figure 4. Culs-de-sac are suggested but not confirmed by excavation.

In some cases, culs-de-sac were probably part of the original city plan; in other cases, they may represent the activities of residents creating defensible space by expanding their homes across narrow lanes, thereby blocking traffic and creating culs-de-sac. Aside from discouraging entry, culs-de-sac and alleys provide aDditional protected outdoor space for storage, tying up animals, and children's play. At Titris, at least one cul-de-sac occurs at the break between terraced segments of outer-town housing, in a space possibly cut off from the street and only accessible from adjacent houses (Matney 2002:27; Nishimura, see Chapter 3 In this volume, Figure 3.3, space between Houses 3, 4, and 7). Areas with such limited access may be more likely to function as gardens, garbage dumps, or meeting places for social and even illicit activities.



 

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