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Studia Orientalia Electronica     Open Access  
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Studia Orientalia Electronica
Number of Followers: 0  

  This is an Open Access Journal Open Access journal
ISSN (Print) 2323-5209
Published by Finnish Oriental Society Homepage  [1 journal]
  • Editor's Introduction

    • Authors: Gina Konstantopoulos
      Pages: 1 - 2
      Abstract: Introduction to the special issue of Studia Orientalia Electronica, collecting papers from the international conference “The Strange and the Familiar: Identity and Empire in the Ancient Near East,” held at the University of Helsinki on August 23 and 24, 2019. 
      PubDate: 2021-12-30
      DOI: 10.23993/store.112421
      Issue No: Vol. 9, No. 2 (2021)
  • Ways of Being: Hittite Empire and Its Borderlands in Late Bronze Age
           Anatolia and Northern Syria

    • Authors: Muge Durusu-Tanrıöver
      Pages: 3 - 27
      Abstract: In this paper, I take identity as a characteristic of empire in its periphery, denoting the totality of: 1) the imperial strategies an empire pursues in different regions, 2) the index of empire in each region, and 3) local responses to imperialism. My case study is the Hittite Empire, which dominated parts of what is now modern Turkey and northern Syria between the seventeenth and twelfth centuries BCE, and its borderlands. To investigate the identities of the Hittite imperial system, I explore the totality of the second millennium BCE in two regions. First, I explore imperial dynamics and responses in the Ilgın Plain in inner southwestern Turkey through a study of the material collected by the Yalburt Yaylası Archaeological Landscape Research Project since 2010. Second, I explore the identity of the Hittite Empire in the city of Emar in northern Syria by a thorough study of the textual and archaeological material unearthed by the Emar Expedition. In both cases, I argue that the manifestations of the Hittite Empire were mainly conditioned by the pre-Hittite trajectories of these regions. The strategies that the administration chose to use in different borderlands sought to identify what was important locally, with the Hittite Empire integrating itself into networks that were already established as manifestations of power, instead of replacing them with new ones.
      PubDate: 2021-12-30
      DOI: 10.23993/store.90663
      Issue No: Vol. 9, No. 2 (2021)
  • Imperial and Local: Audience and Identity in the Idrimi Inscription

    • Authors: Jacob Lauinger
      Pages: 28 - 46
      Abstract: This article studies the Idrimi inscription from ancient Alalah, modern Tell Atchana, in order to explore how and to what effect manifestations of empire may have been socially consequential to local populations ruled by Mittani. Specifically, the article argues that Idrimi is presented as a Mittani hero, but the story of his life is told in a Northwest Semitic-Akkadian code; an imperial vision receives a local expression. From this conclusion, the article ends by trying to infer something about the inscription’s intended audience.
      PubDate: 2021-12-30
      DOI: 10.23993/store.88220
      Issue No: Vol. 9, No. 2 (2021)
  • Foreigners and Religion at Ugarit

    • Authors: František Válek
      Pages: 47 - 66
      Abstract: During the Late Bronze Age, Syria was mostly dominated by the larger powers of the ancient Near East—Mitanni (the Hurrians), the Hittite Empire, and Egypt. The ancient city of Ugarit yielded numerous texts and artifacts that attest to the presence of foreigners and their influences on local religious traditions. Textually, the best-preserved influences are those of Hurrian origin, although these were probably promoted thanks to the Hittites, who incorporated many Hurrian deities and cults. Hurrian traditions thus influenced both Ugaritic cults and divine pantheons. Egyptian influences, in contrast, are observable mostly in art and material evidence. Art of Egyptian origin was considered prestigious and because of that was prominently seen in trade and international exchange gifts, but it also entered the religious sphere in the form of cultic statues and ex-voto gifts for deities. Egyptian art was also often imitated by local artists. The same can be said of art from the Mediterranean area. Some evidence suggests that foreigners actively related to local traditions as well. Ritual tablets from Ugarit (namely KTU3 1.40 and its variants) illustrate that there were always frictions in a multicultural/national society. These tablets also indicate that such frictions could have been dealt with through ritual action, and thus emphasize the role religion played. The city of Ugarit is used in this paper to illuminate some processes that can be observed in the whole of ancient Syria. Nevertheless, every site has its own outcome of interactions with other cultures.
      PubDate: 2021-12-30
      DOI: 10.23993/store.88230
      Issue No: Vol. 9, No. 2 (2021)
  • The Burning of Captives in the Assyrian Royal Inscriptions, and Early
           Neo-Assyrian Conceptions of the Other

    • Authors: Ben Dewar
      Pages: 67 - 81
      Abstract: This paper is a study of the topos of the king burning captives in the Assyrian royal inscriptions. This punishment is notable for both its rarity and its cruelty, being the only time that the royal inscriptions describe violence towards children. I approach this topic in terms of Donald Black’s model of social control, in which the form and severity of social control, including violence, varies in relation to the “social geometry” that separates the parties involved in a dispute or conflict. I argue that in the royal inscriptions burning is inflicted on those that the Assyrians saw as “uncivilized”: peoples inhabiting poorer cities in mountain regions who lacked the infrastructure necessary to stockpile prestige goods, such as precious metals, and were separated at a greater distance from Assyria by “social geometry” than other foreigners. These findings provide a useful insight into Assyrian conceptions of the other and give a better understanding of the variations in the severity of punishments inflicted by the Assyrians on their enemies.
      PubDate: 2021-12-30
      DOI: 10.23993/store.88852
      Issue No: Vol. 9, No. 2 (2021)
  • Drawing Distinctions: Assyrians and Others in the Art of the Neo-Assyrian

    • Authors: Eva Miller
      Pages: 82 - 107
      Abstract: Between the ninth and seventh centuries BCE, the Neo-Assyrian Empire became the largest the world had yet seen. In the process of imperial conquest, the Assyrian state incorporated previously foreign territories and people into their world. Landscapes, materials, and the labor of conquered bodies became a part of the Assyrian royal palaces of northern Iraq, both as elements of their construction and as themes emphasized within the extensive visual programs of the palace reliefs. Within and through visual depiction of enemy bodies and foreign landscapes, in the process of being (often violently) reshaped by Assyrian hands, Neo-Assyrian kings brought the farthest reaches of their world into the center of imperial power. This article considers how specific strategies of representation in palace art allowed the Assyrian palace to serve as a microcosm of the empire and a map of its borders. Palace art emphasized the remade, reworked, or recreated, defining “Assyrianness” as that which remakes and has been remade. As a central act of remaking, I examine representations of captive or submissive foreigners, whose presence in the reliefs commemorates their humiliation while compounding and enhancing it in the very ways that these figures are depicted: cringing, deficient, and physiologically incorrect. I pay particular attention to examples from the late King Ashurbanipal’s reign, in which foreign leaders are singled out through representation with distinctive facial features. I argue that this act of (literally) drawing distinctions was an inherently imperial process, one that both expressed and enabled an ideology of expansion and control.
      PubDate: 2021-12-30
      DOI: 10.23993/store.87846
      Issue No: Vol. 9, No. 2 (2021)
  • Kings of Chaldea and Sons of Nobodies: Assyrian Engagement with Chaldea
           and the Emergence of Chaldean Power in Babylonia

    • Authors: John Nielsen
      Pages: 108 - 121
      Abstract: From the ninth century until the last quarter of the seventh century BCE, the Assyrian Empire first extended its power over Babylonia and then engaged in a prolonged effort to retain control. The patchwork nature of Babylonian society—divided as it was between the traditional urban centers, territories controlled by five distinct Chaldean tribes, and regions inhabited by Aramaean tribes—presented opportunities and challenges for Assyria as it sought to assert its dominance. Assyrian interactions with the Chaldean tribes of Babylonia redefined the Chaldeans’ place within power relationships in southern Mesopotamia. Starting in 878, Assyria first perceived Chaldean territory as distinct from what they defined as Karduniaš, the land ruled by the king of Babylon. Shalmaneser III exploited and accentuated this division by recognizing the Chaldean leaders as kings and accepting their tribute even as he concluded a treaty with the Babylonian king, Marduk-zakir-shumi I. By decentralizing power in Babylonia, Assyria was able to assert indirect control over Babylonia. However, periods of Assyrian weakness created opportunities for several Chaldeans—drawing upon the economic and military power they could muster—to claim the title of king of Babylon with all the accompanying ideological power. These new developments prompted Assyria under the Sargonids to create counter-narratives that questioned the legitimacy of Chaldeans as kings of Babylon by presenting them as strange and inimical to the Assyrian order even as Assyrian interactions with the Chaldeans improved Assyrian familiarity with them.
      PubDate: 2021-12-30
      DOI: 10.23993/store.89456
      Issue No: Vol. 9, No. 2 (2021)
  • The Roving Other: Shepherds, Ungovernable Spaces, and Imperial Authority
           in First-Millennium Mesopotamia

    • Authors: Michael Kozuh
      Pages: 122 - 139
      Abstract: Much of the literature on pastoralists and empire concerns mobile tribes and often focuses on imperial schemes of resettlement, or tribal thwarting of state initiatives. This submission argues that in mid-first-millennium BCE Babylonia, large bureaucratic temples stood between the imperial state and Babylonia’s mobile class of shepherds. This article then explores this dynamic further, focusing on the use of administrative information as a point of imperial contestation, examining issues of local control and clashing hierarchies as the shepherds served an imperial obligation in the Mesopotamian hinterland, and finally argues that the pastoral dynamic presented here is of a piece with the larger political role of the temple in Babylonian life—both urban, familiar, and central and at the same time distant, other-like, and enigmatic.
      PubDate: 2021-12-30
      DOI: 10.23993/store.89492
      Issue No: Vol. 9, No. 2 (2021)
  • Yau̯nā and Sakā: Identity Constructions at the Margins of
           the Achaemenid Empire

    • Authors: Silvia Balatti
      Pages: 140 - 153
      Abstract: The Achaemenid Empire can be reasonably considered an “empire of peoples” from both an ideological and structural perspective. It included all the lands of the peoples of the world and all people helped to maintain imperial order and prosperity. In reality, the empire had boundaries and there were peoples who lived near and beyond them. Under King Darius I, groups of people were annexed at the northeastern and northwestern margins of the imperial territory, thus entering the imperial space and consequently also the Achaemenid documents. The border peoples of the Yau̯nā and Sakā were the only peoples of the empire to be differentiated through epithets, which were added to their collective names in the texts. This shows a unique process of group identity constructions by the authorities on the edges of the imperial space. The analysis of the system of epithets used to indicate the Yau̯nā and Sakā conducted in this paper allows us to draw some conclusions on the mechanisms and reasons behind these specific forms of identity constructions at the margins. Moreover, it shows how this process reflected the main directions of imperial expansion under the first Achaemenids.
      PubDate: 2021-12-30
      DOI: 10.23993/store.89975
      Issue No: Vol. 9, No. 2 (2021)
  • Persian Collections: Center and Periphery at Achaemenid Imperial Capitals

    • Authors: Jennifer Finn
      Pages: 154 - 173
      Abstract: The absence of a true Achaemenid Persian “historiography” necessitates that we look elsewhere to construct Persian ideological interactions with the periphery. Like many Mesopotamian kings before them, the Achaemenids became famous for their collecting practices, and sources often depict them looting and stealing artifacts—many of an antiquarian nature—from conquered peoples. Recently, scholars have argued that we should read this picture as a later Greco-Roman historiographical construct, meant to retroactively vilify the Persian kings for their involvement in Hellenic affairs. However, the archaeological record, read together with cuneiform sources, appears to corroborate these statements. The careful recontextualization in Persian capitals of important cultural heritage items, looted mainly from religious environments in rebellious areas, served not only to demonstrate the superiority and dominance of the Persian center over the periphery but also to situate the Persian kings in an historical continuum of Mesopotamian kingship. A reevaluation of Achaemenid collecting practices from the sixth to the fourth centuries BCE may allow for a more complete understanding of the discursive nature of Persian imperial display.
      PubDate: 2021-12-30
      DOI: 10.23993/store.89186
      Issue No: Vol. 9, No. 2 (2021)
  • The Art of Bracketing Empire Out and Creating Parallel Worlds: The Case of
           Late Persian Yehud

    • Authors: Ehud Ben Zvi
      Pages: 174 - 185
      Abstract: The goal of this article is to draw attention to a seemingly strange, generative pattern that, at times and under certain conditions, has shaped socially shared worlds of imagination among subordinate groups within imperial or hierarchically asymmetric structures of power, especially among “retainer” groups who saw themselves as a “cultural elite” of the subordinate group. I am referring to a generative pattern that in a significant number of such groups, across time and space, has led to constructions of worlds of imagination, and vicarious participation in them through readings or other social acts of imagination that involved “bracketing the empire out.” The article focuses on the world of the literati of late Persian Yehud/Judah, and especially the bracketing out of Ramat Rahel, the most obvious and monumental, explicit, imperial site in the province, but a number of various examples from diverse historical and geographical contexts are also brought to bear to make a point that this is a well-instantiated pattern. The article then concludes with a discussion of what was often gained by acts of imagination and memory involved in bracketing out “empire” and under which circumstances such acts tended to be historically likely.
      PubDate: 2021-12-30
      DOI: 10.23993/store.89226
      Issue No: Vol. 9, No. 2 (2021)
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