University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Events Calendar

Imagined Mountains of Babylonia: Education and Commemoration

Saturday 19 November 2016, 03:15pm - 03:35pm
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Dr. Matthew Rutz, Fellow, Assistant Professor in the Department of Egyptology and Assyriology at Brown University, will deliver a paper in Session 11A. Locating Mesopotamian Civilizations in Highland-Lowland Encounters at the 2016 ASOR Annual Meeting, November 16–19, San Antonio, Texas.

Cuneiform texts from southern Mesopotamia’s early historical periods provide a rich corpus of material for exploring the highland-lowland nexus in ancient southwest Asia. Although quite varied in genre and geographic distribution, the textual record typically conveys only a limited perspective on the unrecoverable totality of lowland-highland interactions, namely, the view of the socio-political elite inhabitants of city-states and territorial polities of the southern Mesopotamian alluvium. While decidedly one-sided, these sources provide a point of access for interrogating the culturally laden array of representations of mountains, mountainous regions, and their inhabitants. In this paper I investigate the various views found in the written record by attending to the archaeological and historical contexts in which the texts were produced. First, focusing in particular on the third and early second millennia B.C.E., I briefly survey the prominent literary topoi, historical episodes, and epigraphic/iconographic landscapes that shed light on long-term trends in how mountainous regions and their populations were imagined by the political actors and their scribes in early Babylonian states. I then look in specific at the ways in which early second-millennium educational practices at sites such as Nippur and Ur created geographic knowledge. By treating textual remains as material culture it is possible to ground the ancient production of literature in practices of cognitive socialization. I conclude by considering the ambivalence expressed in early Mesopotamian commemorative practices, such as the use of year-names and the production of monuments in urban and mountainous landscapes.


Location : San Antonio Ballroom A, La Cantera Resort and Spa, San Antonio, Texas
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