S02 – Ideology & Authority


  1. Alexander Johannes Edmonds (Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen)
  2. Anastasia Moskaleva (St Petersburg University)
  3. Pamela Barmash (Washington University in St. Louis)
  4. Lukáš Pecha (Západočeská univerzita = University of West Bohemia)

Paper Titles with Abstracts

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On the Trail of Na’id-Šīḫu: Reconstructing a Zagrosian Epic
Alexander Johannes Edmonds (Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen)

In this paper, the so-called ‘Epic of Na’id-Šīḫu’, an eight-line excerpt from an otherwise obscure heroic epic written as a schoolboy exercise found on a tablet found at modern Sultantepe, is considered in the light of three other literary fragments which have been published but generally overlooked until now. From an overlapping of characters, tropes, style, and historical and geographical settings within these three texts, it may be demonstrated that these undoubtedly belong to the same composition.

The resultant fragmentary work, set in the Kassite world but likely composed in the Early Iron Age, transmitted in both Standard Babylonian and Late Babylonian versions, contains various episodes within an epic campaign by an unnamed Mesopotamian ruler to the Zagros featuring a retainer of his called Na’id-Šīḫu (or perhaps Na’id-Šīpak). These are of considerable interest, as the extant passages do not entirely conform to the tropes of better-known examples of Akkadian epic literature. The figure of the king, in particular, lacks many of the attributes which might be expected of him, while the sheer wealth of subaltern characters within the piece is also remarkable. These are discussed and a broader contextualisation for this fragmentary work presented.

Crime and Punishment in Assyrian Royal Inscriptions
Anastasia Moskaleva (St Petersburg University)

The military campaigns of the Assyrian kings were an urgent need for the existence of the country. The Assyrian economy directly depended on the annual successful conquest and looting. In their inscriptions Neo-Assyrian kings reported in details about the campaigns and the conquests of the territories which were hostile to Assyria. Carefully studying the descriptions of those military deeds, we can not only trace the chronology of the events described, but also make assumptions about the reasons of those military conflicts and their consequences for the conquered territories. In some cases, Neo-Assyrian kings such as Sargon II, Sennacherib, Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal said that there had been "ḫiṭṭu" - "crime, sin" committed against them. And the "criminal" – "bēl ḫiṭṭi" had to be punished in a certain way. Akkadian dictionaries and reference books give several synonyms of the word "ḫiṭṭu" (such as annu (arnu), gillatu, gullulte), often offering the following translation - "sin, fault, crime" and simultaneously "punishment". In this report there would be observed the following questions: how the term "ḫiṭṭu" was used and in what situations this word was met especially in the royal inscriptions of Assyrian kings; where this term comes from and in what kind of texts it was mostly used in previous periods; what the similarities and differences between the synonyms of this term are found in the context of royal inscriptions. The report also will consider the specific use of the term "bēl ḫiṭṭi" and its interpretation as a "violator of the vassal treaty or an oathbreaker". Another aspect of terminology associated with "ḫiṭṭu" is the use of words in its interpretation, which have the opposite meanings for the crime and the punishment, which could often be found in the legislative texts and the texts of adê-treaties.

The Nature of the Legal Authority of the Laws of Hammurabi and Its Later Reflexes
Pamela Barmash (Washington University in St. Louis)

Scholars have tussled over whether Hammurabi issued the law collection that bears his name as legislation modifying existing law, as a summation of royal decrees, or as a collection of judicial decisions, whether of the king or a judge. At most, this approach has yielded mesmerizing hints but no definitive evidence. However, the question that must be examined is whether an approach that seeks to assign a relationship between the Laws of Hammurabi and legal records accurately and effectively illuminates the nature of the legal authority of the Laws of Hammurabi. There is no reason for law to be limited to the logical application of a discrete set of standardized rules, and debating whether the Laws of Hammurabi was legislation or a recapitulation of royal decrees or judicial verdicts is misplaced. The nature of the authority of the Laws of Hammurabi was not based on the king’s authority and dominion but on the nature of scribal activities in the legal realm. During scribal training, students did copy law collections and model court cases and contracts and wrote legal exercises, and many scribes worked as legal professionals. This instilled a sense of justice in them, and the conflicting rulings they may have learned and their experience in legal matters helped them to think through competing examples of what constitutes justice and to weigh the variables in specific disputes. The interpretive flair that a scribe exhibited in composing the Laws of Hammurabi allowed the scribe to demonstrate expertise in legal reasoning and decision-making and to articulate what he deemed fair and just. This methodology continued outside of Mesopotamian for more than a millennium after Hammurabi. Statutes were composed on a repertoire of traditional cases in the Hittite Laws and biblical law, even though the royal inscription format was no longer used, and may have served as a model for Greek and Roman law.

The Collective and Individual Legitimacy of the Royal Power (The Heritage of Ancient Traditions in the Old Babylonian Royal Ideology)
Lukáš Pecha (Západočeská univerzita = University of West Bohemia)

This paper deals with the royal ideology of the First Dynasty of Babylon and its links to the traditions of earlier dynasties in Mesopotamia (Early Dynastic period, Akkadian period, Ur III period). The ideology of the royal power in ancient Mesopotamia, which is reflected by the contemporary official monuments (especially by royal inscriptions as well as by iconographic sources), was result of a complex development that reached back to the very beginnings of the Mesopotamian statehood. Regardless of specific features of individual periods and regions in Mesopotamia, the legitimacy of the royal power was, in principle, always based on the presumption that the king was placed in his office by deities. In the course of the Mesopotamian history, we can basically distinguish between two models in which the legitimacy of the royal power was linked either to the royal family as a group of persons or to the particular king as an individual. In the first case, we can speak of the collective legitimacy, whereas the second model can be characterized as the individual legitimacy. The royal ideology of the First Dynasty of Babylon emphasizes the legitimacy of the royal power with respect to a particular king, not to the ruling family, and therefore it can be viewed as an example of the model of the individual legitimacy. The paper describes this dominant feature of the Old Babylonian royal ideology and tries to compare it with the ideological concepts of some other states in Mesopotamia.

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