Anatolica, volume 40 (2014).
A House for Trade, a Space for Politics Excavations at the Arai-Bazarjugh Late Medieval Caravanatun, Armenia
Kathryn J. Franklin
According to predominant approaches to the Late Medieval historical and material record, Europe, the Near East and Eurasia were progressively integrated during the Late Medieval period by communities of style and networks of trade, as well as by political ties. Yet the mechanisms of trade and mobility – that is, the movement of people and materials – during this period remain largely unknown, as well as the ramifications of such regional or even ‘global’ economy on local society and politics. The late medieval princedoms of the Armenian Highlands were political entities operating within and between the states of Europe and Asia; the highland princedoms therefore provide an opportunity to examine regional political economy from the perspective of local interests. This paper presents results from excavations at the late medieval (12th-15th c. AD) Arai-Bazarjugh caravanatun ('caravan house' or road inn, also caravanserai), which was constructed by a local Armenian merchant-prince. The architecture of the caravanatun and the material assemblages recovered within it, integrated with historical data, demonstrate the role of the caravanatun as a point of intersection between the global trends of late medieval trade, and local Armenian political traditions.