Eivind Heldaas Seland, University of Bergen, The In-Betweens: Studies of Traders, Soldiers, Administrators and Nomads in the Ancient Levant

    Any inquiry into connectivity needs to address the people who moved between local societies: traders, soldiers, administrators and nomads. Likewise, any inquiry into the dynamics between local and globalizing or empire-levels needs to engage with those who operated as middlemen between the levels: soldiers, administrators and local elites. The wider area of Roman Syria and Arabia, which includes modern Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority lends itself to the study of such issues, because of an extraordinary rich epigraphical heritage combined with an established chronology, relatively ample literary sources and a well-published archaeological record. This material can be addressed in light of recent theoretical approaches from the social sciences, such as Douglass C. North and colleagues' framework adapted from New institutional economics in order to analyze historical societies. Studies of trade, infrastructure, administration and bilingualism can shed light on mechanisms of contact and mechanisms of change, which will give better understanding of the overall problems studied by the LDG project.

    Main inspirations in Dr. Seland’s project wil be North (2009); Kiser and Cai, (2003) and Mahoney (2000).

Short CV

Eivind Heldaas Seland is Post Doc. fellow at the Department of archaeology, history, cultural studies and religion, UiB. Dr. Seland's research has addressed the organization of cross-cultural contacts, particularly long-distance trade, in the ancient world and with emphasis on the Indian Ocean and the Near East. Seland has published 20 peer-reviewed publications, including several articles in leading journals. During his work with the LDG group he will explore epigraphic data form the Syrian city of Palmyra in a study of the middlemen of cultural encounters between local societies and local and imperial levels of political organization: traders, soldiers, administrators, nomads and local elites. The study will result in an English language article aimed either for separate publication or for inclusion in the LDG project volume.