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Geography of Knowledge in Assyria and Babylonia: A Diachronic Analysis of Four Scholarly Libraries

"While many hundreds of individual scholarly works have been edited and published from cuneiform libraries, there have been almost no in-depth studies of the libraries in their entirety. Previous analyses have often decontextualised and fragmented Assyro-Babylonian scholarship into modern disciplinary categories such as 'science', 'magic', and 'religion'. This project aims to restore context and coherence to that scholarship by studying it holistically.To that end we will undertake a comparative study of four scholarly libraries for which adequate archaeological data exist:the Neo-Assyrian temple library of Nabû in the royal city of Nimrud/Kalhu in northern Iraq (Wiseman and Black, Cuneiform Texts from Nimrud, 4 [1996]);the library found outside a priestly family house in Sultantepe/Huzirina near Harran, at the edge of the Neo-Assyrian empire (Gurney and Finkelstein, Gurney and Hulin, Sultantepe Tablets, 1-2 [1957, 1964]), destroyed, like the temple library, in c.612 BCE;the library from a private house from area Ue 18 in Uruk, owned by two separate families of ?šipu scholars, c.450-300 BCE (Hunger, von Weiher, Spätbabylonische Texte aus Uruk, 1-5 [1976-1998]);the library of R?š, temple of the great sky god Anu-Zeus in Uruk, c.200 BCE (van Dijk and Mayer, Baghdader Mitteilungen, Beiheft 2 [1983] and related, informally excavated tablets).We will make quantitative analyses of the manuscripts' linguistic and orthographic features to look for small-scale and large-scale geographical and diachronic change. We will use methodology from the history of science to explain those continuities, changes, and idiosyncracies in relation to the social, intellectual, and political contexts in which the scholars were working."

Format:  Website
Publisher:  Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, and the Babylonian Section, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Publication City:  Cambridge, Philadelphia
Date:  2007