Jules Jallet-Martini

Title:  Inheritance Practices and Family Strategies in Mesopotamia During the 2nd Millenium BCE

University: Université Paris-Panthéon-Assas

Supervisor: Sophie Démare-Lafont

Abstract: This PhD dissertation examines a previously unexplored legal hypothesis suggesting distinct inheritance practices between the north of Mesopotamia where testaments or wills were likely prevalent, and the south of Mesopotamia where ab intestat successions were the prevailing legal custom. 

In order to test this hypothesis, a rigorous legal analysis and systematic comparison of various types of deeds (inheritance divisions, wills, adoptions, gifts…) and documents (letters, litigations…) is carried out, focusing specifically on the question of succession and inheritance practices. These deeds are standardised documents containing clauses regulating the division of the estate, whose differences and similarities help us to better understand the overall inheritance system. Remarkably, a single deed could combine different models of succession, incorporating, for instance, the eldest son’s preferential share to immovable property and an equal division for movable property. 

Strategies adopted by the de cujus or their heirs to preserve the family’s patrimony within the lineage are studied. The inheritance issues addressed in these documents also highlight the importance of assisting elderly or surviving parents in matters of inheritance rights. 

The significance of this work lies in its exploration of the geographical distribution of customary inheritance practices throughout Mesopotamia during the 2nd millennium BCE. 

Through meticulously analysis of legal and non-legal documents spanning the entire millennium, this research aims to enhance the understanding of the intricate and evolving legal systems of these regions and offers insights into the social norms and customs that governed inheritance.

Keywords: legal history; inheritance; Old Babylonian; Emar; Nuzi; Old Assyrian

Contact: jules.jallet-martini@u-paris2.fr

Christie Carr

Title: Conceptualising the Erotic: Metaphor in the Sumerian “Love Songs”

University: University of Oxford

Supervisor: Jacob Dahl


My thesis analyses the metaphor of the Old Babylonian Sumerian “Love Songs”. Using an approach borrowed from cognitive linguistics, I will analyse the corpus using Conceptual Metaphor Theory. The theory mainly states that we understand abstract concepts through mappings from embodied experiences. The extensive metaphor in the Sumerian “Love Songs” give one of the fullest and extended representations of sexual domains of experience from the ancient Mesopotamian world, particularly desire, pleasure, and the erotic. Using modern approaches to metaphor, I hope to create a pragmatic and useful approach to the pervasive but sometimes obscure metaphor in Old Babylonian Sumerian literary texts. By analysing metaphor across the defined parameters of the erotic literary texts known as the Sumerian “Love Songs”, I will display the creativity and interaction that occurs with the creation and comprehension of certain metaphor, and also demonstrate that the analysis of figurative language can be used as tool for accessing culturally constructed domains of experience. The aim is to understand how desire, pleasure, allure, and the gendered human body were conceptualised at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC.

Keywords: Old Babylonian, Sumerian literature, metaphor

Contact: christie.carr@wolfson.ox.ac.uk

Sonia Mzali

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

Antonia Pohl

Title: Die akkadischen Hymnen der altbabylonischen Zeit

University: Universität Leipzig

Supervisors: Prof. Michael P. Streck; Prof. Nathan Wasserman


Although the Akkadian hymns from the Old Babylonian period have been known for a long time, they were never studied as a corpus. But examining those well-known texts as one corpus with similar features promises fresh perspectives. Thus, the first part of my dissertation consists of studying the grammatical features of the hymns in depth. Despite the fact that von Soden’s well received articles from the 1930s already mention the main part of the hymns’ grammatical aspects, there are still characteristics that were not recognized as such and will therefore be treated thoroughly in my dissertation. I will also question the term “hymno-epic dialect”, as I find “hymnic register” to be more fitting, at least for the Old Babylonian period: the epic texts of this period show significantly less “hymno-epic” features than the hymns. The second part of the dissertation deals with stylistic features, especially chiasms, since they make up the bulk of the hymns’ stylistic means. The third and longest part of the work is the edition of the known Akkadian hymns from the Old Babylonian period. The most important aspect of this is, of course, the philological commentary. In it, I will summarize previous editions, add new suggestions, and try to solve philological problems arising from the different ideas. There will be two new editions, namely of the somewhat problematic CUSAS 32, 77 (which is treated as a hymn), and CT 44, 49 in the appendix, because it is most probably not a hymn but a kind of prayer.

Keywords: literature, hymns, grammar, stylistics, Akkadian, Old Babylonian

Contact: antonia.pohl@uni-leipzig.de

Thibaud Nicolas

Title: L’or du soleil : le rôle socioéconomique du temple de Shamash à Sippar à l’époque paléo-babylonienne

University: Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales – Paris

Supervisor: G. Chambon & D. Charpin

This PhD will focus on the socioeconomic role of the Ebabbar of Sippar during the OB period. This temple has already been widely studied for the Neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid period, but yet, the study of its role and function during the OId Babylonian period remains to do.
In this PhD, I aim to understand how deep the social roots of the Sippar clergy were and what interaction the Ebabbar as an institution had with the other “great organisms” such as judges, kârum and Babylon’s kings. I shall first try to show how important the temple was in the royal ideological dispositive. Then, I will try to reappraise a documentation about this Sipparian temple to understand who was doing what in it, and with what kind of socioeconomic impact. The main objective is to understand how the temple could weigh on the Old Babylonian economy not only by its own economic wealth, but also by the mean of using economic tools such as special measures and weights.
To do that, we will examine a corpus of around 400 texts, of which many have never been translated or studied. This corpus should allow us a better understanding of Old Babylonian accounting methods, the implicit information in them, and the brand new look we shall have on this vast documentation.

Contact: tnicolas.enseignant@gmail.com