S05 – Assyria


  1. Guido Kryszat (Johannes-Gutenberg-Universität Mainz)
  2. Miklós Kerekes (İstanbul Üniversitesi = Istanbul University)
  3. J. Caleb Howard (University of Cambridge)
  4. Chikako Esther Watanabe (Osaka Gakuin University) and Jamie Novotny (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)
  5. Alexander Ericson Sollee (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)

Paper Titles and Abstracts

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A new Look on Assyrian History in the late 3rd and early 2nd Millennium
Guido Kryszat (Johannes-Gutenberg-Universität Mainz)

During the last decade the discussion on how to interpret and understand the first part of the Assyrian Kinglist and henceforth early Assyrian history has experienced a kind of renaissance. Unfortunately with only a few exceptions new articles were written by people without true insight into Old Assyrian realities. This appears to be a flawed methodical approach. This paper tries to do justice to the above mentioned realities and attempts to give a complete (as far as possible) picture of the period in question with a particular view of some Old Assyrian "peculiarities" that have been neglected so far, e.g. the Pantheon and the eminently connections Assyrian culture has to the lands in the West and Northwest.

The influencing Factors of the Neo-Assyrian Provincial System of Anatolia
Miklós Kerekes (İstanbul Üniversitesi = Istanbul University)

At the first sight the Neo-Assyrian provincial system can be seen as a highly uniformed and standardized structure. But the system was not as stable as it seems; it was changing and constantly influenced by several factors. Anatolia was always a kind of border and a changing and expanding scene for the Assyrians. So this region (actually for the research, present-day Turkey) gives a perfect chance to investigate the expansion of the provincial system. This expansion, and constant change in the mean time, was always influenced by several factors. Time is one of the most evident one; as the frontier of the empire expanded, the same province must have had a different role as a border or a core state. Also, the Assyrian rule must have had a different level of influence in a province under a few decades or hundreds of years.  The ethnical background of a region can be another factor. For example if a region had belonged to the Empire during the Middle Assyrian period, and even had former Assyrian population, it must have been a more solid base for a newly formed state. Also, the local population (Aramean, Luwis, Hurri or others), and their culture (Aramean, Syrio-Hittie, Hurrian etc.) might have had an effect. To incorporate a city-state or a region ruled by a semi-nomadic tribe required different approaches. Finally, the geography is also an inevitable factor. A mountainous terrain or a lowland require different solution from the centre to form a functioning province.

The Process of Producing the Room I: Recension of the Standard Inscription of Ashurnasirpal II in the Northwest Palace at Nimrud
J. Caleb Howard (University of Cambridge)

The Standard Inscription of Ashurnasirpal II from Nimrud/Kalḫu (RIMA is extant in over four hundred manuscripts, mainly on the orthostats that lined the walls of the Northwest Palace. It has long been known that certain manuscripts of the Standard Inscription from Room I contain a distinct recension of this composition. Previously, the identification of this distinction depended largely on a single variant between two geographical designations in the summary of Ashurnasirpal’s conquests, namely, the variation between EN kurNI-RIB šá bi-ta-ni (and orthographic variants) and a-di kurÚ-ra-ar-ṭí (RIMA, l. 9). On the basis of collation of over two hundred manuscripts of the Standard Inscription (directly or through photographs), it can be shown that in fact this variant co-occurred with five other unique variants in at least twenty manuscripts of the Standard Inscription. Moreover, a further fifteen variants occur in a unique combination in these same manuscripts. These observations further substantiate the identification of the variation between EN kurNI-RIB šá bi-ta-ni (and orthographic variants) and a-di kurÚ-ra-ar-ṭí as evidence of recensional development, by scholars such as S. M. Paley and A. F. Conradie. Since these manuscripts are all from Room I of the Northwest Palace (when their primary contexts can be determined), I call this text-form the I Recension. Having isolated these twenty manuscripts, which contain a common recension of the Standard Inscription, it is possible to subdivide them on the basis of further patterns of shared variants. Like the variants which distinguish the I Recension, different combinations of I Recension manuscripts each share common patterns of unique variants, as well as multiple variants in a pattern which is unique to these subgroups. On this basis, it is argued that the I Recension was originally produced in a master copy (containing most or all of the I Recension diagnostic variants), which was reproduced in multiple intermediate copies (containing most or all of the [combinations of] variants unique to the subgroups of I Recension manuscripts). Each one of these intermediate copies was, in turn, used to copy a discrete set of extant manuscripts (reliefs in Room I), transferring both the unique variants of the I Recension and the unique variants of the intermediate copy to those reliefs. I suggest that these intermediate copies were used as a means of making the process of copying the hundreds of manuscripts of the Standard Inscription on reliefs in the Northwest Palace more efficient.

Ashurbanipal’s Lion Hunt seen from the Lions
Chikako E. Watanabe (Osaka Gakuin University) and Jamie Novotny (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)

The royal lion hunt played an important role in the artistic scheme of bas-reliefs which once decorated the walls of the palace built by Ashurbanipal at Nineveh (the so-called “North Palace”). The hunting scenes were displayed in Rooms C, S and S1 (fallen into Room S), as well as in the Ascending Passages A and R. Room C was devoted solely to the theme of the king hunting lions and in that set of reliefs Ashurbanipal appears four times riding on a chariot, but using different weapons to kill his prey. Interpretation of the scene has been suggested by Weissert (1997: 344–345) based on textual evidence that matches the number of lions and lionesses depicted in the enclosed arena scene.
The present paper focuses on the representation of the animals depicted in Ashurbanipal’s hunting scenes, in which the lions are illustrated with a subtle difference which has not attracted much attention so far. Textual evidence is sought to find an explanation for different types of lions.

Built on solid Foundations: The Development of Neo-Assyrian Fortifications
Alexander E. Sollee (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)

The kings of the Neo-Assyrian Empire were great builders. They commissioned the construction of magnificent buildings of monumental proportions. This did not only include palaces and temples, but also massive fortifications that surrounded and protected the royal residences. The manner in which Assyrian architects designed and arranged their city walls and gates was not radically new, however. Considering the long history of warfare and military developments in the Ancient Near East, they could build on a solid foundation of existing knowledge on how to construct defensive systems. Nevertheless, certain aspects and details make the fortifications of the Neo-Assyrian royal residences stand out amongst comparable Ancient Near Eastern structures. This paper intends to show how Assyrian architects took older or foreign concepts and reconfigured them to convey Assyrian ideology to inhabitants and visitors of the grand residences in the heartland through the appearance of the fortifications. By doing so, the paper will demonstrate that the development of Neo-Assyrian defensive architecture formed an important part of the intellectual heritage of the Ancient Near East.

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