Nimrod Madrer

Title: Existential phrases in Semitic languages

University: Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Supervisors: Nathan Wasserman, Steve Fassberg

Abstract: Existential phrases constitute a broad, yet elusive, part of all Semitic languages. Linguistics point at two general functions for such phrases: 1. A copulative function, i.e., “semantically empty” verbs that mark the tense, mood and aspect of the sentence, or that carry negation or description (namely, a=b, a is part of, or can describe b). 2. A “proper” existential function – “there is” – pointing at objects or states of an actual existence and that can be further described. Such verbs often accompany locative (there is an elephant in the room) or by possessive markers (I have a book).
The literature dealing with such phrases is restricted and incomplete and many questions of this matter are left unattended. In my thesis I intend to regard existential phrases in Semitic languages (and in specific in Akkadian) with regard to three levels – morphology (collecting and describing the words, prepositions and radicals that constitute the “Proto-Semitic” existentials and the ones that are innovations of specific languages), syntax (tenses, modii and, generally, the grammar of each of existentials), and context (e.g., which existentials serve predominantly as copulae and which as “proper existential”, context dependencies of the uses of the various existentials and differences in context and uses between “Proto-Semitic” existentials to language-specific ones, inter and intra lingually). Altogether, I hope to shed light on the roles and function of existential phrases in Semitic languages and to compose a concise and comprehensible collection and description of them.

Keywords: Semitic languages, philology, grammar, existential, Akkadian

Contact: nimrod.madrer@mail.huji.ac.il

Lola Lombard

Title: Les éphémérides du Ier millénaire avant J.-C. au Proche-Orient ancien : fonction, production, transmission

University: Université Lumière Lyon 2

Supervisor: Jwana Chahoud

Abstract:

Cette thèse a pour objectif d’étudier les éphémérides proche-orientales durant la fin du Ier millénaire av. J.-C., période durant laquelle se maintiennent les traditions culturelles cunéiformes, mais qui voit aussi l’arrivée d’influences extérieures, avec la domination des Perses achéménides, puis celle de la dynastie hellénistique séleucide. Les éphémérides sont des textes, inscrits sur des tablettes d’argile et rédigés en akkadien au moyen de l’écriture cunéiforme, qui enregistrent la course des astres dans le ciel. Ils appartiennent au domaine de l’astronomie mathématique prédictive : à partir de l’observation cyclique des astres, les astronomes ont mis au point des modèles mathématiques afin de prédire leurs mouvements.

Le corpus connu des éphémérides comprend environ 330 tablettes et fragments provenant des sites de Babylone et d’Uruk, deux grands centres astronomiques du sud mésopotamien. Peuvent être associés 110 textes de procédure qui sont des instructions visant à calculer et à vérifier les éphémérides.

Bien que les éphémérides aient été étudiées dès la fin du XIXe siècle, il n’existe à ce jour aucune étude dédiée au cadre socio-institutionnel, ni aux principes de constitution et de transmission de ces textes. Afin de compléter nos connaissances sur les éphémérides, il sera pertinent de s’interroger sur plusieurs aspects : quelles étaient les fonctions des éphémérides ? Quel était leur rapport avec les autres types de textes astronomiques et avec l’astrologie ? Quel était le mode de constitution et de transmission de ces textes et quels étaient ses acteurs ? Quelle était leur place au sein de la discipline astronomique et, plus largement, dans le développement des sciences de cette époque ?
Pour répondre à ces questions, plusieurs axes d’analyse seront abordés. Premièrement, les chercheurs supposaient jusqu’à présent que les éphémérides étaient réalisées afin de produire des horoscopes. Néanmoins, leur relation avec les autres textes astronomiques et leurs différentes applications n’ont jamais été clairement identifiées. Cette étude permettra donc de cibler les domaines dans lesquels les éphémérides étaient requises et de cerner leurs fonctions ainsi que leur place, non seulement dans l’astronomie prédictive, mais aussi dans tout autre domaine nécessitant leur usage, comme l’astrologie.


Ensuite, une étude des colophons, qui sont des espaces occupant la fin des tablettes et comportant diverses indications (nom du copiste, date, lieu de rédaction), sera également nécessaire afin, d’une part, de retracer l’origine des éphémérides et leurs lieux de conservation ; d’autre part, d’étudier le cadre socio-institutionnel du travail des astronomes. Cela permettra de reconstituer le réseau des astronomes et plus largement celui des savants qui recopiaient, possédaient et/ou utilisaient ces éphémérides.


Enfin, il s’agira d’étudier la place de l’astronomie au sein des sciences de cette époque et ses relations avec les autres disciplines, notamment les mathématiques. Il s’agira également de tenter de retracer l’origine des éphémérides afin de déterminer si elles sont le produit d’un processus antérieur, ou bien si elles résultent d’influences extérieures dues au contexte socio-politique. 

Keywords: astronomy, astrology, Seleucid, Achaemenid, ephemeris, scribes

Contact: lola.lombard@univ-lyon2.fr

Imane Achouche

Title: The “death” of statues in the Syro-Mesopotamian area during the Bronze Age

University: Université de Liège, Belgium

Supervisor: Laurent Colonna d’Istria

Abstract:

Imane is studying the “death” of statues in the Syro-Mesopotamian space of the 3rd millennium BCE, through the analysis of the materiality of artifacts, iconography and textual sources. This thesis is a continuation of a master’s thesis concerning the ritual birth of statues in Mesopotamia, which led to an understanding of the cultic process governing the condition of these artefacts. In her current research, Imane wishes to answer the questions raised by the observation of a damaged statue – the accidental or intentional nature of the damage, its dating, the individual(s) responsible for the damage, what motivated the action – in order to obtain a comprehensive view of the context in which the ronde-bosse was made, displayed and ultimately removed from its society.

Keywords: Bronze age, statue, sculpture, iconoclasm, rituals, cuneiform

Contact:  imane.achouche@doct.uliege.be

Dániel Ligeti

Title: Healing deities in Mesopotamian and East-Mediterranean Religions

University: Pázmány Péter Catholic University

Supervisor: András Bácskay

Abstract

The subjects of the dissertation are the medical related deities of Mesopotamian religion, primarily Gula, Ninisina, Ninkarrak, Nintinuga, Baba and Bau. The study based on a database of their miniature and monumental iconographical sources and textual appearances in hymns, prayers, incantations and medical texts. The aim of the study is to outline their religious representations.

Keywords: Mesopotamian religion, healing deities

Contact: dani.ligeti@gmail.com

Andrew Pottorf

Title: Social Stratification in Southern Mesopotamia during the Third Dynasty of Ur (ca. 2100–2000 BCE)

University: Harvard University

Supervisor: Piotr Steinkeller

Abstract

This dissertation addresses social stratification during the last century of the third millennium BCE when the Third Dynasty of Ur governed southern Mesopotamia and its neighboring regions. With over a hundred thousand administrative texts uncovered from this time, known as the Ur III period, its socioeconomic history can be thoroughly analyzed, including its social stratification. Three strata are proposed in this dissertation: (1) citizens, (2) serflike UN-il2 , and (3) slaves. In order to identify and elaborate upon these strata, several features are presented: native terminology, origins, family lives, housing, legal rights, and economic conditions. There is also a history of scholarship focusing on works by Soviet scholars, such as V. V. Struve, A. I. Tyumenev, and I. M. Diakonoff, which are generally challenged in this review, as well as on contributions by Ignace Gelb, Kazuya Maekawa, Marcel Sigrist, Piotr Steinkeller, and Natalia Koslova, which are fundamental to this dissertation. The three strata differ particularly in regard to their legal rights and economic conditions. Citizens were the most prevalent and had the fullest extent of legal rights and economic autonomy, whereas slaves were the least prevalent and had the least extent of legal rights and economic autonomy. UN-il2 were between these two strata, possessing some legal rights and limited economic autonomy. Occupations significantly impacted economic conditions, and they were unequally accessible to the three strata. Textual data are cited throughout, and prosopographical evidence is frequently utilized. Eight appendixes are included, which provide details about prosopography, family and house sizes, conscription, land tenure, and text collations, among other topics.

Keywords: Mesopotamia, Babylonia, Ur III period, social stratification, socioeconomic history, administration

Contact: apottorf21@gmail.com

Sonia Mazali

Title: Les prêtresses et prêtres EN du pays de Sumer, de l’empire d’Akkad jusqu’à la chute du royaume de Larsa (2334 – 1763 av. n. è.)

University: Université de Lille

Supervisor: Philippe Abrahami

Abstract: The first en-priestess recorded in written sources dates back to the Akkadian Empire (2334 – 2193 B.C). She was dedicated to the moon god Nanna in the city of Ur. In Ur, successive en-priestesses were installed until the fall of the kingdom of Larsa (1763 B.C). They were all the daughters of kings and were at times considered to be the god’s spouses. They were at the top of their temple’s hierarchy, kept their title for life and lived in a “gipar”, i.e. a building housing the priestess’ residence as well as the temple of Nanna’s consort, the goddess Ningal. The “gipar” in Ur was the subject of extensive excavations at the beginning of the 20th century. It is the only one that has been discovered to this day, although written sources reveal that other “gipars” as well as en-priests and priestesses are attested in Sumer over the same period of time. The aim of this thesis is to collect all the available documents pertaining to these members of the Sumerian clergy in order to better understand their political, economic and religious roles as well as establish links and dissimilarities between the cities and their cults. This study spans over different dynasties and distinct periods in Assyriological Studies; this will allow a better understanding of how the office of en-priestess and en-priest evolved through time.

Keywords: religion, Sumer, en-ship, Akkad, Ur III, Old Babylonian

Contact: sonmzali@gmail.com

Virginia Cara Girardi

Title: The Importance of Boat Transport for the Ur III Economy

University: University of Oxford

Supervisor: Professor Jacob L. Dahl

Abstract:
Using network analysis and similar data approaches to analyse frequency and capacity of cereal boat shipments across lower Babylonia, this study seeks to understand the importance of boat transport for the Ur III economy. This study aims at using datamining approaches to analysing the entire Ur III corpus for references to boat transports, in order to identify all products and raw materials transfers that occurred by boat throughout the Ur III state, either via the river courses or the canals. The corpus-wide analysis of records of boat-transfers will provide an opportunity to estimate the overall movement of products, and to identify the directionality of the flow of products. Due to the high volume of Ur III administrative documents concerning boat transport and a specialised and associated household, called the mar-sa in Sumerian, I am focusing my analysis on the provinces of Umma and Ĝirsu-Lagaš. Due to the importance of boat transportation for the smooth running of the complex Ur III ‘taxation’ system, the bala, I will draw heavily on texts concerning the bala, discussed extensively by T. Sharlach, and I hope to be able to contribute to the discussion of this enigmatic term and the system it describes.


My approach is complementary and I am not studying boat transportation in isolation. My study will include a section concerning watercrafts and navigation in the Ur III period, and a study of boat construction, and the materials and techniques employed to achieve the purpose. In addition, I will continue the analysis of the mar-sa begun by S. Alivernini as well as a study of the kun-zi-da, owing much to the recent studies of S. Rost. Through this approach, I will illustrate clearly the management of watercrafts and navigation in the Ur III.

Keywords: Ur III, mar-sa, administration, boat transport, bala, kun-zi-da.

Contact: virginia.girardi@wolfson.ox.ac.uk

Mathilde Touillon-Ricci

Title: Individuality and Identity in Writing: Personalising Cuneiform Documentation in the New Sumerian and Old Assyrian Periods (21st and 19th Centuries BCE)

University: SOAS-University of London and The British Museum

Supervisors: Dr Mark Weeden and Dr Jon Taylor

Abstract: 

Inscribed objects, beyond their documentary content, materialise the writing process and the context in which it was performed. This research aims to further our understanding of the material aspects of cuneiform writing beyond its documentary and historical nature and to develop our insight into literacy and writing practices.

Writing, as a conception as well as a process, being a combination of rules and standards performed by individuals: can identity and individuality be revealed in writing? Over its long and diverse history, cuneiform adapted and evolved while maintaining characteristically consistent features: what freedom did scribes have to express variations? Cuneiform objects display a variety of sizes, shapes and writing styles, revealing their social, geographical, and chronological contexts of production: how does cuneiform writing also reflect on literacy and writing practices?

Individuality and identity in cuneiform are analysed by investigating two contrasting corpora: the institutionalised cuneiform production of professional New Sumerian scribes at the epicentre of state bureaucracy in Southern Iraq; the practical literacy of Old Assyrian merchants’ documents produced along the trading routes between Mesopotamia and Anatolia.
Considering the artefactual value of inscribed objects, this research applies palaeographic and diplomatic analysis to provide new sources to support existing archaeological and historical knowledge of ancient Mesopotamia. Reaching new layers of information through the study of features such as manufacturing techniques or character forms and formation, this project provides new evidence about literacy and idiosyncrasy in writing in the New Sumerian and Old Assyrian periods, as well as new methodologies of investigation.

This research is conducted in partnership with the Department of the Middle East at the British Museum and the Department of History at SOAS-University of London, as part of the Collaborative Doctoral Awards scheme supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council UK.

Keywords: palaeography, diplomatics, materiality, writing practices, New Sumerian,  Old Assyrian

Contact: mtouillon-ricci@britishmuseum.org

Anita Fattori

Title: Tissage de la Trame Sociale : Femmes et Réseaux Commerciaux dans L’ancienne Mésopotamie

University: Universidade of São Paulo/Université Paris 1

Supervisors: Prof. Cécile Michel and Prof. Marcelo Rede

Abstract:

Pendant la période paléo-assyrienne, plus précisément au début du IIe millénaire avant-J.-C., les Assyriens ont occupé une place importante dans la scène du commerce à longue distance. Organisés en firmes familiales pour commercialiser des étoffes et de l’étain en échange d’or et d’argent, les marchands assyriens sont partis d’Aššur avec pour destination principale Kaneš, en Anatolie, où ils se sont installés pendant des longues périodes. Dans ce projet, je traiterai le cas spécifique de l’action sociale des femmes assyriennes dans ce réseau commercial, initialement par l’analyse d’environ 80 lettres destinées à ces femmes ou envoyées par ces femmes. Je pense l’action sociale des femmes assyriennes en termes de human agency, un concept produit dans la théorie sociale pour rendre compte de la relation dialectique entre la structure cognitive de l’action et la production, la reproduction et les transformations de ces structures dans le domaine de la pratique. Mon objectif est de conduire une recherche historique basée sur l’analyse du contexte discursif de la période paléo-assyrienne. De cette façon, je réaliserai une lecture du cadre social de la période à partir de la perspective de genre, afin de comprendre non seulement les aspects sociaux de ces femmes dans ce contexte mais aussi d’appréhender leur place dans la société par comparaison avec celle tenue par les hommes.

Keywords: historiography, social history, Old Assyrian, gender studies, genre studies

Contact: anitafattori2@gmail.com

Lucrezia Menicatti

Title: An Investigation of Repetition and Analogical Reasoning in Mesopotamian Divinatory Literature from the First Millennium B.C.E. 

University: Universität Wien

Supervisor: Prof. Nicla de Zorzi

Abstract: 

My PhD thesis is part of the project “Repetition, Parallelism and Creativity: An Inquiry into the Construction of Meaning in Ancient Mesopotamian Literature and Erudition” (REPAC). The project, which was funded by the European Research Council (ERC) and is led by Assoz. Prof. Dr. Nicla De Zorzi, investigates repetition and parallelism in different branches of Akkadian literature and scholarly writing.

This thesis focuses on divinatory literature from the first millennium B.C.E. The corpora under investigation include the extispicy series Bārûtu, and the astrological series Enūma Anu Enlil. My main objective is to define principles and rules that structure these texts, both on the horizontal and on the vertical axis.

To achieve this goal, I will investigate these two divinatory series on two different levels. On the one hand, consideration will be given to the relation between sign and prediction in single omens, and I will elucidate and explore the role of analogy, similarity, and repetition in establishing the so-called syntagmatic connection between protasis and apodosis on the horizontal axis. On the other hand, I will focus on the inter-omen connections and on the so-called paradigmatic relationships between different omens on the vertical axis. It will be shown that the choice of terms and themes is often dictated by principles of analogy and by the inter-play of repetitive patterns and concepts not only on the horizontal, but on the vertical axis as well. This will shed a light on the structure of larger omen sequences.

The aim is therefore to provide a thorough investigation of omen-organisation and omen sequencing in the first Millennium divinatory sources, focusing especially on the generative power of repetition and analogy in the macro-structure of divinatory compendia. Eventually, this research will lead to a better understanding of how repetition and analogical thought reflect the Mesopotamian worldview, which understood the world as governed by correspondences resulting from similarity and contrast between different elements. This thesis will show that divinatory texts are a fundamental expression of this vision.

Keywords: divination, extispicy, astrology, repetition, analogy, text structure

Contact: lucrezia.menicatti@univie.ac.at