S17 – Contact Zone: Levante


  1. Josette Elayi (Centre national de la recherche scientifique)
  2. Luigi Turri (Università di Verona)
  3. František Válek (Univerzita Karlova)
  4. Alexander Fantalkin (Tel Aviv University)
  5. Angelika Kellner (Universität Innsbruck)
  6. Manfred Bietak (Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften)

Paper Titles with Abstracts

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The Assyrians seen by the Phoenicians
Josette Elayi (Centre national de la recherche scientifique)

The abundant Assyrian sources, especially the official inscriptions and the correspondence, tell us about the vision that the Assyrians had of the subject peoples, at least of some of them. Conversely, we are less well informed about the way in which the people they dominated saw them. This article discusses the Phoenicians' view of the Assyrian occupiers during the various periods of the Assyrian conquest. The Phoenician sources, heterogeneous, scattered in space and in time and limited, alone provide little information likely to answer our problematic. But the behaviors and the reactions that the Phoenicians showed towards the Assyrians, analyzed through all the available non-Phoenician sources, previously decrypted, make it possible to get an idea of ​​the vision that they had of them. This vision was not uniform: it was differentiated according to the cities, in particular those of Tyre, Sidon, Byblos and Arwad, according to the individuals or the groups in contact, according to the socio-political contexts and according to the considered periods. It allows us to better understand how the image (images) of the Assyrians, which has (had) been transmitted to us through the centuries, was (were) constituted.

Refugees and displaced People in northern Lebanon in the 2nd and 1st Millennium BC: textual Data and archaeological Evidence
Luigi Turri (Università di Verona)

During the Late Bronze and Iron Ages the area of present-day Lebanon was famous for its prosperous coastal cities and their ability to build commercial ties with both neighbouring and faraway lands, but very little is known of the low-lying inner plains or mountain regions. Idrimi’s “autobiography” recounts that refugees – probably fleeing from the Hittite devastation in northern Syria – found shelter in Ammiya, while Rib-Adda’s letters complain about the habiru that dwell in the area and who are threatening his cities. Another letter dating to the time of Tiglath-pileser III, that testifies to the presence and activities of Assyrian officials in Phoenicia, mentions some people that may have been moved to northern Lebanon by order of the Assyrian king. The lecture analyzes these and other texts in the light of the preliminary results of the new survey conducted in the Koura and Tripoli area by the Northern Lebanon Project, a mission conducted by the University of Udine and the Lebanese University.

Cultural Transfer in the Light of Seth, Baʿal and their Relationship
František Válek (Univerzita Karlova)

Egyptian Seth and Semitic Baʿal were closely connected, especially during the Late Bronze Age. Sometimes scholars think there was even a syncretistic deity, the so-called Seth-Baʿal. Although Baʿal was surely not the only foreign deity that found its way into the Egyptian religion, his position seems to be special. No other Syrian deity was as closely tied with its Egyptian counterpart as Baʿal was with Seth. However, the situation is complex and deserves further investigation in order to determine specific implications of these deities' relationship.
First, one must establish in which contexts the gods should be taken as separate and in which contexts (if ever) they were indeed fused. But the question is not only whether there were Seth, Baʿal and Seth-Baʿal as a third deity, or if Baʿal existed in the eyes of Egyptians as a mere manifestation of Seth. Influences that went both ways, to Egypt and back to ancient Syria, can reveal many interesting aspects of both cultures. How did these cultures view each other? Who was a foreigner for them and how did this concept change in time? Did Semites see Baʿal connected with Seth in the same manner as Egyptians did?
In sum, the relationship of Baʿal and Seth will serve as a lens to look at the cultural transfer between ancient Syria and Egypt, the perception of otherness in these ancient cultures, and the notion of divine syncretism will be problematized.

Archaeological Investigation of Ashdod-Yam (Asdudimmu) on the Israeli Mediterranean Coast
Alexander Fantalkin (Tel Aviv University)

Three seasons of excavation at the coastal site of Ashdod-Yam (Asdudimmu in the Neo-Assyrian sources) have been conducted recently, discovering substantial remains from the 8th-7th centuries BCE. In this presentation I will present this new data in relation to the geo-political situation in the southern Levant during the period of Neo-Assyrian domination and the Egyptian interlude that followed the Assyrian withdrawal from the area.

Time is Running: Ancient Greek Chronography and the Ancient Near East
Angelika Kellner (Universität Innsbruck)

In the second half of the 5th century BC lists of eponymous secular and sacred officials, which reached back into the Archaic period (c. 800-500 BC), were published from various cities in Greece. This is usually understood to mark the beginning of a new literary genre, namely chronography. The fragmentary state of these works poses a serious challenge when trying to draw conclusions about content and form. It remains unclear for example, whether all chronographic texts were written as annalistic reports of events. The presentation will offer a discussion of the most essential evidence in order to gain an impression of ancient Greek chronography, foremost the Athenian Archon list and the written histories of Athens (Atthidography).
In a next step, the paper addresses the wide spread assumption that ancient Greek chronography was highly influenced by similar writings from the ancient Near East and will thus deal with the interesting aspect of possible adoption and adaptation. In particular, this concerns the question, if the Neo-Assyrian Limmu list might have served as a blueprint for the Athenian Archon list. Even though the poor preservation of ancient Greek chronography impedes comparison, an inquiry will attempt to consider parallels and differences with Neo-Assyrian texts and Babylonian chronicles. Recent research has provided new results and insights into the study of chronicles in Greece and Mesopotamia. Therefore, researching this topic anew is of particular importance.

Near Eastern Temples in the Eastern Nile Delta and the spiritual Roots of the Hyksos
Manfred Bietak (Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften)

Several Ancient Near Eastern temples of different type  were excavated by the speaker at Tell el Dab'a, ancient Avaris, capital of the Hyksos. They were constructed already during the late Middle Kingdom by a community of immigrants from the Near East. Distribution maps of these different kinds of temples cluster in northernmost Syria and in northern Mesopotamia giving unexpected information where the spiritual roots of the elite in Avaris might have come from. It seems also that specific types of temples were gender-related in respect to their divine patrons.

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