Andrew Pottorf

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

University: Harvard University

Supervisor: Piotr Steinkeller


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


Raphaël Buisson-Rozensztrauch

Title: The Wise Jew and the Foreign King: Study of a Dialectic Narrative Motif in Ancient Jewish Texts

University: Université Catholique de Louvain

Supervisor: Prof. Jan Tavernier


The goal of our research project is the study and analysis of an over-looked literary motif despite its many occurrences throughout the ancient Jewish scriptures (Tanakh, Talmud and Midrash, as well as the works of Flavius Josephus): the encounter, opposition and dialogue between a figure of wisdom, incarnation of the Israelite spirituality and culture, and a royal character embodying the great civilizations culturally and geographically surrounding ancient Judah; this motif structures an antique Jewish identity and its ambivalent perspective concerning the major nations influencing and often dominating ancient Judah. Babylon, Persia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Ethiopia and others are sometimes, but not always, depicted in opposition to the core of Jewish values: ancient Judaism opposes restrain and wisdom to the appetite for worldly pleasures and military conquest shown as characteristic of those powerful civilizations. We intend to show how entangled the Jewish texts concerning the great kings, Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander the Great in particular, are linked to each other, not only by the theme and the form of discourse itself, but also by the latter rabbinical discussions that can be found in the Mishnah, giving its structure to a fundamental principle of ancient judaism: the inherently evil nature of kings, as opposed to the purity constitutive of prophets, and more generally the superiority of spiritual authority over political power.

Keywords: Mesopotamia, Judaism, Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar II, Persia, Medes

Beatrice Baragli

Title: Salutations to the Sun. The Kiutu incantation prayers

University: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

Supervisor: Prof. Walther Sallaberger

This dissertation offers the first complete critical edition of the Sumerian Kiutu incantation prayers (from ki-dutu-k “place of the sun (god)”), which are attested from the second up to the end of the first Millennium BCE. This work focuses on the definition of the textual typology, its ritual and religious background. Furthermore, this study treats the Kiutus as a part of the broader history of Mesopotamian literature.