Experiencing Power, Generating Authority: Cosmos, Politics, and the Ideology of Kingship in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia

pub powerFor almost three thousand years, Egypt and Mesopotamia were each ruled by the single sacred office of kingship. Though geographically near, these ancient civilizations were culturally distinct, and scholars have historically contrasted their respective conceptualizations of the ultimate authority, imagining Egyptian kings as invested with cosmic power and Mesopotamian kings as primarily political leaders. In fact, both kingdoms depended on religious ideals and political resources to legitimate and exercise their authority. Cross-cultural comparison reveals the sophisticated and varied strategies that ancient kings used to unify and govern their growing kingdoms.

Experiencing Power, Generating Authority draws on rich material records left behind by both kingdoms, from royal monuments and icons to the written deeds and commissions of kings. Thirteen essays provocatively juxtapose the relationships Egyptian and Mesopotamian kings had with their gods and religious mediators, as well as their subjects and court officials. They also explore the ideological significance of landscape in each kingdom, since the natural and built environment influenced the economy, security, and cosmology of these lands. The interplay of religion, politics, and territory is dramatized by the everyday details of economy, trade, and governance, as well as the social crises of war or the death of a king. Reexamining established notions of cosmic and political rule, Experiencing Power, Generating Authority challenges and deepens scholarly approaches to rulership in the ancient world.

Contributors: Mehmet-Ali Ataç, Miroslav Bárta, Dominique Charpin, D. Bruce Dickson, Eckart Frahm, Alan B. Lloyd, Juan Carlos Moreno Garcia, Ludwig D. Morenz, Ellen Morris, Beate Pongratz-Leisten, Michael Roaf, Walther Sallaberger, JoAnn Scurlock.

Jane A. Hill is Director of the Predynastic Egyptian Collections Project at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and a Consulting Scholar in the Museum's Egyptian Section. She also teaches anthropology at Rowan University.

Philip Jones is Associate Curator in the Babylonian Section at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and Executive Editor of the Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary Project.

Antonio J. Morales is Research Associate at the Institute of Egyptology of the Freie Universität Berlin.

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Hasanlu V: The Late Bronze and Iron I Periods

pub hasanluHasanlu V provides archaeologists with a new, more accurate chronology of Hasanlu, the largest and arguably the most important archaeological site in the Gadar River Valley of northwestern Iran. This revised chronology introduces Hasanlu Periods VIa, V, and IVc for the first time. Based on new findings, the report overturns current constructions of the origins of the archaeological culture in Hasanlu, which sought to link the Monochrome Burnished Ware Horizon (formerly known as the Early Western Grey Ware Horizon) to the migration of new peoples into western Iran in the later second millennium B.C. Hasanlu V shows instead that the Monochrome Burnished Ware Horizon developed gradually from indigenous traditions. This reappraisal has important implications for our understanding of Indo-Iranian migrations into the Zagros region.

Michael D. Danti is an archaeologist of the Near East, Assistant Professor at Boston University, and Consulting Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. He is author of The Ilkhanid Heartland: Hasanlu Tepe (Iran) Period I, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.

Megan Cifarelli teaches art history and directs the Museum Studies Program at Manhattanville College.

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Evolution of Mind, Brain, and Culture

Descartes boldly claimed: "I think, therefore I am." But one might well ask: Why do we think? How? When and why did our human ancestors develop language and culture? In other words, what makes the human mind human?

Evolution of Mind, Brain, and Culture offers a comprehensive and scientific investigation of these perennial questions. Fourteen essays bring together the work of archaeologists, cultural and physical anthropologists, psychologists, philosophers, geneticists, a neuroscientist, and an environmental scientist to explore the evolution of the human mind, the brain, and the human capacity for culture. The volume represents and critically engages major theoretical approaches, including Donald's stage theory, Mithen's cathedral model, Tomasello's joint intentionality, and Boyd and Richerson's modeling of the evolution of culture in relation to climate change.

No recent publication combines this breadth of evidential and theoretical perspective. The essays range in topic from the macroscopic (the evolution of social cooperation) to the microscopic (examining genetic data to infer evolutions in brain structure and function), and from the ancient (paleoanthropological reconstructions of hominin cognitive abilities) to the modern (including modern hominin's similarities to our primate cousins). Considered together, these essays constitute a fascinating, detailed look at what makes us human.

Gary Hatfield is Adam Seybert Professor in Moral and Intellectual Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania.

Holly Pittman is Bok Family Professor in the Humanities and Professor of History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania, and Curator in the Near East Section at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

 

Historical Archaeology at Tikal, Guatemala: Tikal Report 37

The pre-Columbian city we call Tikal was abandoned by its Maya residents during the tenth century A.D. and succumbed to the Guatemalan rain forest. It was not until 1848 that it was brought to the attention of the outside world. For the next century Tikal, remote and isolated, received a surprisingly large number of visitors. Public officials, explorers, academics, military personnel, settlers, petroleum engineers, chicle gatherers, and archaeologists came and went, sometimes leaving behind material traces of their visits. A short-lived hamlet was established among the ancient ruins in the late 1870s. In 1956 the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology initiated its fourteen-year-long Tikal Project.

This report chronicles documented visits to Tikal during the century following its modern discovery, and presents the post-Conquest material culture recovered by the Tikal Project in the course of its investigation of the pre-Columbian city. Further research on the nineteenth-century settlement was carried out in 1998 in its southern part by the Lacandon Archaeological Project (LAP) under the direction of Joel W. Palka of the University of Illinois at Chicago. The material culture recovered by the LAP supplements the Tikal Project collection and is referenced here. Historical Archaeology at Tikal, Guatemala is intended as a contribution to nineteenth and early twentieth century Lowland Mesoamerican research. It is rounded out with several appendices that will be of interest to historians and historical archaeologists. The printed volume includes many black and white photographs and drawings. A gallery of color photographs, several from Palka's 1998 excavations, is included on the accompanying CD.

Hattula Moholy-Nagy is Consulting Scholar in the American Section, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

 

The Archaeology of Phrygian Gordion, Royal City of Midas: Gordion Special Studies 7

Some of the most dramatic new discoveries in Asia Minor have been made at Gordion, the Phrygian capital that controlled much of central Asia Minor for close to two centuries. The most famous ruler of the kingdom was Midas, who regularly negotiated with Greeks in the west and Assyrians in the east during his reign. Excavations have been conducted at Gordion over the course of the last 60 years, all under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

In spite of the economic and political importance of Gordion and the Phrygians, the site is consistently omitted from courses in Old World archaeology, primarily because Gordion lies too far to the west for many Near Eastern archaeologists, and too far to the east for classical archaeologists. Moreover, there is no book that offers a comprehensive and up-to-date assessment of the material culture of Gordion during the Phrygian period, a gap that will be filled by this volume. The chapters cover all aspects of Gordion's Phrygian settlement topography from the arrival of the Phrygians in the tenth century B.C. through the arrival of Alexander the Great in 333 B.C., focusing on the site's changing topography and the consistently fluctuating interaction between the inhabitants and the landscape. A reexamination of the material culture of Phrygian Gordion is particularly timely, given the dramatic recent changes in the site's chronology, wherein the dates of many discoveries have changed by as much as a century. The authors are among the leading experts in Near Eastern archaeology, historic preservation, paleobotany, and ancient furniture, and their articles highlight the interdisciplinary nature of the Gordion project. A significant component of the book is a new color phase plan of the site that succinctly presents the topography in diachronic perspective.

C. Brian Rose is Pritchard Professor of Classical Studies and History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania and Curator-in-Charge of the Mediterranean Section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

 

The Extramural Sanctuary of Demeter and Persephone at Cyrene, Libya, Final Reports VIII: The Sanctuary's Imperial Architectural Development, Conflict with Christianity, and Final Days

This is the climactic volume on the archaeological and architectural history from ca. 31 B.C. to A.D. 365 of the extramural sanctuary of Demeter and Persephone at Cyrene, Libya. It deals with the impact of Christianity on the cult and the causes of its decline, with particular emphasis on the largest body of evidence recorded anywhere for iconoclastic damage, presumably by Christian populations, to sculpted images of worshippers and twin goddesses. The volume traces the characteristics of major Demeter sanctuaries elsewhere (e.g., Eleusis, Corinth, Pergamon, Acragas, and Selinus) and places Cyrene's sanctuary within the context of this development.

The volume also presents the sanctuary's important lapidary and lead inscriptions as analyzed by Joyce Reyonlds. It is the eighth volume in the final reports series for the excavations conducted for the University of Michigan, and subsequently the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, between 1969 and 1981.

Donald White is Curator Emeritus of the Mediterranean Section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

 

The New Chronology of Iron Age Gordion: Gordion Special Studies 6

The New Chronology of Iron Age Gordion argues that the history and archaeology of the site of Gordion, in central Turkey, have been misunderstood since the beginning of the excavations in the 1950s. The first excavation director, Rodney Young, found evidence for substantial destruction during the first decade of fieldwork; this was interpreted as proof that Gordion had been destroyed ca. 700 B.C. by the Kimmerians, a group of invaders from the Caucusus/Black Sea region, as attested in several ancient literary sources. During the last decade, however, renewed research on the archaeological evidence, within, above, and below the destruction level indicated that the catastrophe that destroyed much of Gordion occurred 100 years earlier, in 800 B.C., and was the result of a fire that quickly got out of control rather than a foreign invasion.

This discovery requires a reassessment of Anatolian history during the entire first millennium B.C. and has serious implications for our understanding of the surrounding regions, such as Assyria, Syria, Greece, and Urartu, among others. The New Chronology of Iron Age Gordion is the product of a multidisciplinary research program, with dendrochronology and radiocarbon dating working hand in hand with textual and artifact analysis, each of which is treated in a separate chapter in this volume. All of these categories of evidence point to the same conclusion and demonstrate that we need to look at Gordion, and much of the ancient Near East, in a completely new way.

C. Brian Rose is Pritchard Professor of Classical Studies and History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania and Curator-in-Charge of the Mediterranean Section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

Gareth Darbyshire is Gordion Archivist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

 

Literacy in the Persianate World: Writing and the Social Order

Literacy in the Persianate World
Writing and the Social OrderPersian has been a written language since the sixth century B.C. Only Chinese, Greek, and Latin have comparable histories of literacy. Although Persian script changed—first from cuneiform to a modified Aramaic, then to Arabic—from the ninth to the nineteenth centuries it served a broader geographical area than any language in world history. It was the primary language of administration and belles lettres from the Balkans under the earlier Ottoman Empire to Central China under the Mongols, and from the northern branches of the Silk Road in Central Asia to southern India under the Mughal Empire. Its history is therefore crucial for understanding the function of writing in world history.

Each of the chapters of Literacy in the Persianate World opens a window onto a particular stage of this history, starting from the reemergence of Persian in the Arabic script after the Arab-Islamic conquest in the seventh century A.D., through the establishment of its administrative vocabulary, its literary tradition, its expansion as the language of trade in the thirteenth century, and its adoption by the British imperial administration in India, before being reduced to the modern role of national language in three countries (Afghanistan, Iran, and Tajikistan) in the twentieth century. Two concluding chapters compare the history of written Persian with the parallel histories of Chinese and Latin, with special attention to the way its use was restricted and channeled by social practice.

This is the first comparative study of the historical role of writing in three languages, including two in non-Roman scripts, over a period of two and a half millennia, providing an opportunity for reassessment of the work on literacy in English that has accumulated over the past half century. The editors take full advantage of this opportunity in their introductory essay.

Brian Spooner is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania.

William L. Hanaway is Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania.

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