This article presents data on the Iron Age of eastern Anatolia. The roughly 900 years embraced by the Iron Age marked a period of radical political transformations shaped first and foremost by the rise and fall of empires. How Urartu emerged in the ninth century BCE is a question whose answer lies most immediately in the opening centuries of the Iron Age. Currently, the very roughest outlines of two different scenarios exist. In the western Armenian plateau, relatively flat settlement hierarchies (compared to the preceding Late Bronze Age) and undifferentiated built spaces in what appear to be village-like constructions at key sites in the Euphrates basin provide few clues for precursors to the kinds of consolidated political institutions that came to reproduce Urartian hegemony. At the other end of the highlands, however, especially in southern Caucasia but perhaps also further west, a political tradition characterized by imposing fortresses continued from the Late Bronze Age, potentially signaling the earliest foundations of Urartu's archipelagic fortress polity. These scenarios invite a two-pronged inquiry into the Iron 1 period focused both on the production of power and authority by an emergent political élite, perched within the stone citadels of the highland mountains, and on the constitution of social difference through routine practices among the region's subject communities.