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  • This presentation will focus on a series of manuals containing instructions regarding the oracle process. These sources, usually referred to as The Extispicy Rituals, also elaborate about different theoretical and practical aspects of extispicy as a scholarly discipline. But their main objective is to offer descriptions of the sequences of sacrificial offerings and the purification acts performed during the ritual. The first part of the presentation will be dedicated to the content of this group of documents and discuss their structure, based on the recent study of the relevant manuscripts. The second part of the presentation will discuss the questions raised by this collection of instructive texts. It will address the problems that concerns the roles of the seer and his client in the ritual and will clarify its setting, in time and space. The series of offerings that were given and the variety of gestures made by the participants, will also be presented.As it happens, the ritual under discussion was performed for a defined purpose. The objective was allowing the seer to inspect the lamb he slaughter with the aim of obtaining an answer to the oracle question he pre-formulated for his client. Obtaining such an answer required prior training including the knowledge of complex theoretical literature on the subject, a matter on which the Extispicy Rituals elaborate as well. Hence, attention will also be given in this presentation to issues regarding the theoretical aspects of extispicy by contemplating the following questions: What were the relations between the seers’ theoretical literature and the act of extispicy? Did astrology play a role in this practice? And, finally: to what extent was this type of knowledge considered esoteric? Key Facts Divination ManualsThe Oracle Procedure and ParticipantsExtispicy EncyclopaediaAstrological Aspects of OracleBabylonian Scholastics in the Neo-Assyrian Period
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  • Chalkstone vessels, interpreted as objects for certain Jewish purity concerns, found on Tall Zira’a, near Gadara (Northern Jordan), bring up the question how purity obligations were practiced in the early Jewish Diaspora during the Roman Period. In Israel they are mostly known in the region of Galilee and Iudaea, in Jewish religiously observant environments.Growing numbers of those finds in Jordan – also in small scale settlements - in general show a larger distribution of these objects than originally thought. I would like to discuss if we see here a religious concern, a certain ‘aesthetical’ trend or a matter of identity.How have they been relevant to the community that lived outside the borders of ‘Biblical Israel’ and had no frequent access to the Temple or Jerusalem as a holy centre? Could the indication of the objects change in a more Gentile environment like Jordan?These material finds could be an opportunity to approach a wider understanding of the daily life of the early Diaspora.
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  • The mixed nature of Kizzuwatna’s population is widely accepted by the scholars, considering the Hurrians and the Luwians its main components. Which of these peoples came to the Cilician plain earlier than another one, is the subject of the discussion between archaeologists and linguists. In the course of this discussion, the onomastic and toponymical data were underestimated and became the subject of my investigation.The onomastic data collected from the historical and ritual texts coming from Kizzuwatna, seals and sealings discovered or bought at the Cilician plain give us a collection of proper names dating to Middle Hittite, New Hittite and Late New Hittite periods. Their distribution by language and period gives us the picture of the Hurrian domination in the Middle Hittite period. By the Late New Hittite period the Luwian names became prevailing. This trend supports the scenario of the Hurrian earlier arrival. Both Hittite and Luwian presence in the Middle Hittite period should reflect the traces of the first conquest of Kizzuwatna by the Old Hittite kingdom, and the Luwian influence increased after the second conquest of Kizzuwatna by the New Hittite kingdom. The geographical distribution between Luwian West and Hurrian East should be further investigated on the ground of the place names of the Cilician plain through ages.
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  • When: Karum Period: First centuries of the 2nd millennium B.C. when Assyrian and Anatolian merchants took part in large-scale commercial exchanges between Aššur and central Anatolia. Most of the epigraphic finds come from the 19th century BC, and the 18th century is less known. We don’t know how the commercial exchanges came to an end. Until the establishment of the administration at the Hittite capital Hattuša/Boğazköy (1650), there is a hiatus in the epigraphical records for more than a century. Who: Anitta, son of Pithana, an ambitious ruler who created one of the first Kingdom in Central Anatolian (modern Turkey) in the mid 18th century.Where: Boğazköy (modern name, in Central Anatolia) was a city called Ḫattuš and was an exchange place in the Anatolian Network of the Karum period. The site was selected as the capital of the Hittites around 1650 by Ḫattušili I, the first well attested Hittite King.
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  • Sirkeli Höyük is a settlement mound in the cilician plain near Adana, Turkey. It was first excavated in the 1930s by John Garstang. Work there was resumed in the 1990s by Barthel Hrouda and Horst Ehringhaus, and then again from 2006 until the present day; initially by the Universities of Tübingen and Çanakkale and subsequently (2011 onwards) by the Universities of Bern and Çanakkale. My Master’s thesis focused on the terracotta figurines unearthed during the excavations from 1992 onwards. Its aim was to construct a classification for the material from Sirkeli Höyük, which I documented, classified and catalogued according to their shape. I did not create a completely new classification, but rather tried to build on work form A. Pruss and H. Goldmann, who’s approaches I adapted to suit the material from Sirkeli Höyük. The terracotta figurines found to date span the following epochs: the Hellenistic period, the Iron Age, the Late Bronze Age, and the Middle Bronze Age. The first aim of my PhD is to construct a working typology for these terracotta figurines by clearly defining the criteria of each of the different types. In a second phase I intend to elaborate my existing comparison of the material from Sirkeli Höyük and figurines from other excavations in the cicilian plain, to document their geographical distribution and diversity. The final phase will be an evaluation of the temporal dispersion of differing styles with a view to determining the extent of any extra-regional influences.
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  • Although classical education is waning and general historical knowledge is at its nadir, many ancient fables are still widely known and commonly cited in spoken language. For example, Aesop’s fable The Boy Who Cried Wolf has resulted in the phrase “crying wolf,” which—even today—is a cultural shorthand for expressing the idea of raising a false alarm. The successful communication of this idea, however, rests on culture: the shared understanding of the wolf as dangerous. If we thought of wolves as we do pet dogs, the reference would be lost.Fables constitute a subgenre of ancient Near Eastern ‘wisdom literature;’ they are short narratives utilizing anthropomorphized animals to impart conventional wisdom. Like proverbs, fables “belong to the speech of everyday life” (Alster 1997). Perhaps for this reason, they were among the first compositions that young scribes learned to write in ancient Mesopotamia. Sumerian fables are attested as early as the mid-third millennium BCE. Much like written language itself, fables traffic in tradition and “habitual connection” (Peirce 1885) in order to convey their meaning. This meaning is so strong that it can be carried even via elliptical (truncated) renderings, as in the example of “crying wolf.” This shorthand is possible, in part, because animals are not just things themselves, they are loaded with symbolic meanings that are imparted in fables via their role, their actions, and the words they speak. In fables, animals are characters, and these characterizations can reveal the context and values of the culture that created them.As Falkowitz (1980) notes, consistently and extensively employed animal images can become culturally ingrained as rhetorical topoi: the fox is cunning, the bee is busy. The meaning in these images” is derived from their characteristics, which fables can uniquely elucidate for us. Through the understanding that fables provide, we can more successfully “read” both the elliptical references to animals in proverbs and in images. Moreover, understanding animals in this way can provide us a method to access the contexts and values of ancient Mesopotamians without privileging our contemporary, Western symbolic or ethical norms.I will provide an overview of the small corpus of available Sumerian fables and analysis of the roles of the animals characterized within them. These will be linked to Sumerian proverbs and compared to ancient Greek fables to form a starting point for conceptualizing fauna in the ancient world.
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  • Tents have an iconic place in anthropologists’ vision of Southwest Asia, largely through ethnographic analogy to the Bedouin black tent. Yet, tent nomadism and tent caravans emerged relatively recently during the Iron Age (c. 1200-568 BCE). Iconography, texts, and archaeology suggest that increased exploitation of tents as temporary or mobile housing would have required the use of large quantities of woven fabric. Yet, archaeologists have not considered the labor that members of the Iron Age population invested first in spinning fibers into yarn and then weaving these threads into cloth. This paper draws on published methods to estimate the labor investments required to produce the fabric structures from Iron Age Southwest Asia. The results demonstrate that although tents were well suited to mobility strategies, they were not inexpensive or disposable. Comparison to ethnographic examples from historic Southwest Asia supports the conclusion that tents were the result of large amounts of raw material and countless hours of work and coordination.
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  • Kleber, K. 2008. Tempel und Palast: Die Beziehungen zwischen dem König und dem Eanna-Tempel imspätbabylonischen Uruk. AOAT 358. Münster: Ugarit-Verlag.Eanna Archive Chronology (pp.135–73) Regnal years 1 – 20 ++; Building projects: Etemenanki Ziqqurat; Location: BabylonRegnal years 2; Building projects: Esagil BabylonRegnal years 14 – 32; Building projects: miscellaneous; Location: Opis and SipparRegnal years 14/35 – 42; Building projects: - ; Location: Tyros/ṢuruRegnal years 15 – at least 20; Building projects: - ; Location: JādaquRegnal years 19 – 29; Building projects: North Palace; Location: BabylonRegnal years 23 – (project completed in the reign of Cyrus); Building projects: - ; Location: Raqqat-ŠamašRegnal years 27; Building projects: Nebuchadnezzar Canal (Nār-Šarri); Location: North of SipparRegnal years 31; Building projects: A dam; Location: Sealand regionRegnal years 33; Building projects: Euriminanki Ziqqurrat; Location: BorsippaRegnal years 35; Building projects: City wall; Location: Babylon ---Da Riva, R. 2008. The Neo-Babylonian Royal Inscriptions: An Introduction. Guides to the MesopotamianTextual Record (GMTR) 4. Münster: Ugarit-Verlag.“In his Ehulhul cylinder…, king Nabonidus claims to have restored the Ebabbar in Sippar forty-five years after the reconstruction undertaken by Nebuchadnezzar. Since Nabonidus’ works date to 553-2 BC, the alleged reconstruction must date to 597-96 BC (pp.74).”*597-96 BC = 7 th - 8 th regnal years---Da Riva, R. 2012. The Twin Inscriptions of Nebuchadnezzar at Brisa (Wadi Esh-Sharbin, Lebanon): a historical and philological studies . Archiv für Orientforschung (AO) 32. Wien: Selbstverlag des Instituts für Orientalistik der Universität Wien. “The construction of Nār-šarri is well-documented in the administrative texts, and all evidence confirms that it was a lengthy project. The first references to the canal are from the second decade of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, but the construction documents are dated to the 27 th regnal year onwards (pp.20).”---Da Riva, R. 2013. Nebuchadnezzar II’s Prism (EŞ 7834): A New Edition. Zeitschrift für Assyriologie (ZA), 103 (2). 196–229.“Also known as the Old Palace, this building had been constructed by Nabopolassar (626–605 BC) and later expanded by Nebuchadnezzar II (605–562 BC) in or before his seventh year, according to the date mentioned in the Prism, before he decided to build a new one (the Hauptburg or Nordburg) outside the inner wall system (pp.196).”(pp.210-1)Column III25’ in se-bu-tim ša-at-ti-ia 1 lim 1 lim še - im26’ 1
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  • Tell Abu Sarbut is situated in the Jordan Valley about 80 km north of Amman, the excavation seasons 2012-2015 revealed a small Early Roman hamlet and unexpected and surprising stone vessels were found.The vessels were hand cut or lathe turned, produced around Jerusalem and in Galilee in Capernaum, Sepphoris, Nabratein and also in Gamla in the Golan. Soft chalkstone vessels excavated from Levantine sites dated between 100 BC and 200 AD, are always found together with specific oil lamps, pottery, and sometimes with stepped pools.Such stone vessels are well known from Qumran and Jerusalem, they are considered markers of Jewish identity. There is an on-going discussion on the subject. According to Berlin material possessions encode and reflect religious identity. (A.Berlin, 2005. Jewish Life Before the Revolt. Journal for the Study of Judaism 36, 4:417- 470). Near contemporaneous texts tell that stone vessels were considered impervious to ritual impurity. Different authors state that the phenomenon is a uniquely Jewish one, because these utensils are conspicuously absent from non-Jewish sites.Most of the finds are from Israel only a few were reported from Jordan.The limestone vessels form Tell Abu Sarbut rise the question if these artefacts can reveal the identity of the people once living in that tiny hamlet in the eastern Jordan Valley.An important questions in my research on the material from Tell Abu Sarbut is: What are the conditions to link religious identity to archaeological structures and artefacts? The central question in this might be: Is it legitimate to link artefacts to ethnic groups? I would appreciate ideas and suggestions on both questions.An important questions in my research on the material from Tell Abu Sarbut is: What are the conditions to link religious identity to archaeological structures and artifacts? The central question in this might be: Is it legitimate to link artifacts to ethnic groups? I would appreciate ideas and suggestions on both questions.
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  • Date: Around 2200 BC.Location: Western, southern and eastern Iran.Type: Syllabic Script.Text Corpus: 22 (known a long time), plus 15 (known since 2015).Sign Corpus: 110 sign type, 1340 sign tokens.Status: Principally undeciphered, except the sound values for in, šu, uš, ši, na, and k, drawn from the divine name Inšušinak found in the only bilingual inscription. Several further sound values were proposed. In our paper, some of them are being corroborated, and a new one is presented.Language behind the signs: Based on graphotactical patterns found in the texts, this paper claims that it must be Elamite or a language closely related to it.
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