Different types of multiethnic societies and different patterns of development and change in the prehistoric Near East
After briefly examining the forms of cultural contact in pre- and protohistoric societies in relation to the problem of the varying perception of territories and their "borders" as well as of "membership" in those societies, and after a brief reconsideration of the concept of culture and ethnicity in such archaic contexts, this paper then examines three examples of multiethnic societies in the Near East, and specifically in Upper Mesopotamia and Southeast Anatolia, in the fifth, fourth, and at the beginning of the third millennia before the common era (BCE), respectively. These examples are dealt with as emblematic cases of different models of society, types of interaction with alien groups, levels of integration, and development dynamics. Each of these cases is examined with respect to its socioeconomic context, the archeological evidence of "multiethnicity," the types of interaction between different components, the degree of cultural integration achieved, and the effects on the dynamics of change and the development of the societies examined. By analyzing and comparing these examples, the paper aims to show how interethnic contact impacted differently on different societies according to their types, the reasons and purposes of the interaction, and the degree of integration achieved.