Scholars, Texts, and Contexts: An Archaeological and Textual Study of the Diviners' Archive from Late Bronze Age Emar, Syria (Assyriology, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations)
Both the textual record and the archaeological record from the ancient Mesopotamia provide evidence for a rich array of human activities over more than three millennia. The vast majority of known cuneiform tablets lack secure archaeological provenience, and few large groups of tablets have been excavated in such a way that a critical investigation of the whole is possible. Within the discipline of Assyriology, there is a growing appreciation that excavated groups of textual artifacts provide the strongest foundation for reconstructing the social and intellectual worlds of ancient Mesopotamia. The purpose of this dissertation was to produced a detailed exposition of a collection of cuneiform tablets from Late Bronze Age Emar (ca. 1300–1175 BCE), a town located at the big bend of the Euphrates River in Syria. Populating the texts from one building in this town, Building M1, were a number of high-ranking scribes, scholars, and cultic functionaries who bore the title diviner. There were two dimensions to the investigation of this archive, which included administrative, legal, epistolary, lexical, literary, divination, ritual, and incantation texts written in Akkadian, Sumerian, Hittite, and Hurrian. The first entailed interpreting the published archaeological information from the excavation of Building M1. The second involved a textual analysis of all published epigraphic data from the site, resulting in a rationalized catalogue organized by textual genre, find-spot, and scribe. Over seventy fragments were identified for the first time, and a number of possible joins between pieces were proposed. Both the architecture of Building M1 and the artifacts found in it indicate that it was an urban elite residence and not a temple as was originally thought. The reconstruction of the original excavation units has also made it possible to put the tablets and fragments back in the rooms in which they were found. Analysis of the personal names and titles found in the archive offers insights into archive formation, scribal education, textual transmission, and social organization at the site.