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Ancient Philosophy


Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Ancient Near East

Opening the Tablet Box: Near Eastern Studies in Honor of Benjamin R. Foster  by Sarah C. Melville and Alice L. Slotsky (Culture and History of the Ancient Near East: Brill Academic Publishers) is a scholarly tribute to Benjamin R. Foster, Laffan Professor of Assyriology and Babylonian Literature and Curator of the Babylonian Collection at Yale University, from some of his students, colleagues, and companions, in appreciation of his outstanding achievements and in thanks for his friendship. Reflecting on the remarkable breadth of the honoree’s research interests, the twenty-six original papers in this Festschrift cover a wide range of topics in ancient Near Eastern and Egyptian literature, economic and social history, as well as art and archaeology.

This volume dedicated to Benjamin R. Foster was conceived long ago in our graduate school days when we had the good fortune to study under his brilliant tutelage. Captivated by his elegant, witty, and sometimes irreverent lectures, we were inspired daily to solve the mysteries of cuneiform and to explore the linguistic, literary, and historical implications of the many and diverse texts we worked through together. We promised ourselves then that someday we would find a way to express our appreciation. Ben's 65th birthday proved a fitting occasion to collect contributions from students, colleagues, and friends in an honorary volume.

Born on September 15, 1945 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, Ben became interested in the ancient world at an early age. During high school, he spent summers working at the University Museum in Philadelphia under the guidance of the renowned Sumerologist, Samuel Noah Kramer. Before entering Princeton University, Ben took a year to study at the Middle East Center for Arabic Studies in Shemlan, Lebanon, where he perfected his Arabic and took full advantage of more peaceful times to travel extensively through the entire Middle East. At Princeton he majored in Oriental Studies, concentrating on Arabic and the Middle East from the Hellenistic to the modern period. He graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and intended to begin immediately a doctoral program in Assyriology in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Literatures (as it was then called) at Yale University.

But the U.S. Army had other plans and Ben received his -A draft notice on commencement day, 1968. After just one semester at Yale, he was called up for military service, including nearly a year at Cu Chi and Tay Ninh, Vietnam, as an ammunition specialist, for which he earned the Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal, and Vietnam service ribbon. While stationed stateside, he convinced the army that he should learn Russian. As a result, Ben would be one of the few Assyriologists to read the works of Russian colleagues and to develop academic ties with them during the Cold War era.

Having returned safe and sound from Vietnam, Ben re-entered Yale, earning his Ph.D. in 1975. Since then, he has remained at Yale, rising through the ranks to hold his present positions as the William M. Laffan Professor of Assyriology and Babylonian Literature and Curator of the Yale Babylonian Collection. He has tirelessly served the university in many administrative roles, including a decade as department chairman, and was also instrumental in creating the undergraduate major in the department, which previously had granted only graduate degrees.

Since 1983, summers have found Ben enjoying life deep in the French countryside, where he has written many books and articles in the quiet of his garden. He has established close connections with French colleagues, resulting in his regular participation in conferences and colloquia in Paris. In addition, he has been a visiting professor at the École Pratique des Hautes Etudes (1998) and the College de France (2010).

A prolific writer, Ben is the author of more than a dozen books and monographs, well over one hundred journal articles, more than seventy reviews, and numerous contributions to a variety of dictionaries, encyclopedia, and biographical compendia (too numerous to include in the bibliography herein). These publications reveal an astonishing intellectual versatility, covering topics as varied as early economic history, cuneiform literature, authorship, Mesopotamian humor and wit, time and space, identity, and speculative thought. Whereas Ben's early research focused primarily on Sargonic commercial activity, land use and administration, and the Sumerian temple-State, his interest soon shifted to Mesopotamian literaturen In addition to original editions of cuneiform masterpieces, such as a splendid new translation of Gilgamesh, Ben's incisive criticism has transformed our understanding of the Mesopotamian literary tradition. His landmark anthology of Akkadian literature, Before the Muses, and the paperback version, From Distant Days, not only make accurate and breathtakingly beautiful translations available to Assyriologists, but also introduce cuneiform literature to a worldwide audience of students and the general reader.

Not all of Ben's work comes from the pages of ancient history. He has never abandoned his involvement in the contemporary Middle East, regularly teaching two foundation courses in this area for Yale undergraduates. Since the start of the Iraq War, he has written and spoken widely on the destruction of Iraq's cultural heritage. Moreover, he has easily reached beyond the confines of Mesopotamian antiquity to investigate such matters as the beginnings of American Assyriology, Yale's role in the study of ancient and modern Near Eastern languages in the United States, and the appearance of Assyriology and Assyriologists in works of English and American literature.

In 1975, Ben married Karen Polinger, whom he met in the Babylonian Collection library when both were students at Yale. Over the years, he and his wife have taken particular pleasure in welcoming visiting colleagues, whether in their old farmhouse in Connecticut or their stone cottage in France. They have two grown daughters, Constance and Ruth.

The essays in this volume are meant to reflect Ben's sweeping interests in the ancient Near East and Egypt with studies on topics ranging from social and economic history to literature and language. We offer them as a small token of our esteem for an exemplary teacher, colleague, and friend.


University di Roma—Sapienza

An investigation into Enki, the god associated with wisdom and cunning, would be an excellent way of honouring a learned colleague: Enki's first aspect is an essential prerequisite for a scholar, whilst the second is of unquestionable benefit also in academic life. I am afraid, however, that Ben Foster will have to take my contribution merely as a sign of friendship, since it is impossible to demonstrate that the god En-ki of the Ebla texts was, in fact, the god of wisdom. Whereas in Babylonia, even before the Old Akkadian period, there was already a marked syncretism between the Sumerian Enki and the Semitic Ea, we have every reason to believe that at Ebla there was a very different concept of this divinity, a concept shared by the Northern Semitic peoples before they came into contact with Sumerian culture. In Eblaite, En-ki would appear quite simply to be the Sumerogram for the local god Hay(y)a. In the administrative documents, the name of the god is always written with the logogram En-ki.



Conservateur general honoraire musée du Louvre

Omniprésentes dans notre quotidien modern, les « faiences » et autres industries sur matières vitreuses s'inscrivent dans la longue durée. Depuis la naissance des villes, avec de spectaculaires développements a 1' age du Bronze, elks intéressent toutes les civilisations du vieux monde.' Témoins de la circulation des matières premières et des transferts de technologies, elles servent a la fabrication d' objets qui répondent aux mêmes besoins que les oeuvres de prestige faites en or ou en pierres précieuses exotiques. Prenant le cas des découvertes de Tello, je souhaiterais aborder ici la question du statut social et économique de ces productions 0 artificielles ».


École pratique des Hautes Etudes (Paris, Sorbonne)

L' existence, dans les archives royales de Mari, d' un genre de textes qua-Mé de 0 protocole de serment 0 a été révél& par Jean-Marie Durand en 1988, lorsqu' it publia dans ARM 26 / 1 le texte no. 1, le célèbre « serment des devins ».1 Ce document reproduit le texte del' engagement que devait souscrire un devin lorsqu' it entrait au service du roi de Mari—livrant par la-même sans doute l' exemple le plus ancien de « secret professionnel ». Ce texte n' avait rien d' unique, comme le montra J.-M. Durand trois ans plus tard, dans sa contribution aux Mélanges Garelli, of it publia cinq textes apparentés (Durand 1991).2 Le document ici publié (M.5719) vient compléter ce dossier; son état de conservation médiocre (cassures, notamment sur la face, mais plus encore, usure de la surface du revers)3 explique qu' it ait échappé jusqu' a présent a 1' attention.4 Son intér& n' en est pas moins considérable.' Ce texte se définit comme un serment «d' &tat de serviteur » (sa wardûtim iv 9) : it s' agit donc du serment de fidélité au roi de Mari que devait prêter un « fonctionnaire » avant de prendre son poste. De même que les six textes déjà connus, it date du règne de Zimri-Lim, dont le nom est cité quinze fois dans le texte conserve et que le jureur définit tantôt comme « roi de Mari et du pays bédouin, >>7 twit& comme « mon seigneur ».

Je suis heureux d' offrir 1' édition et le commentaire de ce texte a Ben Foster, dont les études sur 1' époque paléo-akkadienne ont très utilement mis 1' accent sur la nécessaire approche archivistique, trop longtemps négligée par les assyriologues ; je regrette seulement que son gout pour la littérature akkadienne, qui nous a notamment donné le superbe Before the Muses, ne trouve guère ici de quoi s' enthousiasmer ...



Institute of Oriental Studies, Academy of Sciences, Russia

the cuneiform tablet under discussion belongs to the St. Petersburg Driental Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and its inventory number is KSV 43 in the Department of the Oriental manuscripts. The text was composed on the fifth day of the month Simanu of the eighteenth regnal year of Darius II (i.e., summer of 40613c). Its dimensions are B8 x 79 x 28 mm. Let us first present its transliteration and translation.

II. Translation

By the command of the lord may (everything) be successful.

zoo excellent ewes that have given birth and belong to Sa-Nabu-gumu, the slave of Belgunu, are upon La-Bel, son of Zabdiya. He must ... and deliver these 200 ewes on the tenth day of the month Abu in the eighteenth year of the king Darius in Babylon to Supesu, the slave of SaNabu-sumu. If he does not deliver (them) on the tenth day of the month Abu, he must pay until the twentieth day of the month Abu 15 minas of silver instead of these 200 ewes. If he does not pay this silver, i.e., 15 minas, he must pay monthly one shekel on one mina of silver (as interest) in accordance with his [obligation].

Witnesses: Marduk-sumu(?)-iddin(?), son of Bel-ers; Adad-nasir, son of Bel-epus, governor of the city Hindanu; Nabu-kusursu, son of Beluballissu; Adad-etir, son of Bel-nasir; Bel-mulusu, databara; Bel-ahaittanna, son of Kiribtu(?); Marduk-sumu-iddin, son of Naba-uballit; Balatu, son of Nabu-usursu.

The scribe: Minu-ana-Bel-danu, son of Nabu-kusursu. The city of Tapsuhu, the 5th day of the month Simanu, the 18th year of Darius, King of countries.

Captions with stamp seals.

This document was drafted in the city of Tapsuhu on the Middle Euphrates, the exact location of which has been unknown until now Its name became known to Assyriologists about thirty years ago when J.-M. Durand published two duplicates of the tablet AO 18897 and AO 18898. This text records a litigation regarding a certain Babunu who was a

slave woman and whose name is also written in Aramaic in one copy. The text was composed in the second regnal year of Nabonidus (554 / 553 BC) at Tapsuhu (urutap-su-hu).

Let us now return to the Tapsuhu text from St. Petersburg. In this text we have the earliest attestation of an invocation formula written on the upper edge with wedges so small that A.H. Sayce did not notice a part of this formula (see below). This is also the earliest known text in which a scribe invokes the blessing of the god, although this practice was typical for the texts of the Hellenistic period in which pious scribes wrote such blessings formulae.2 The blessing formula usually mentions a divine couple, either Bel and his spouse Beltiya in the tablets from Babylon, or Anu with his wife Antu from Uruk. As Martha Roth notes, the invocation formula "by the command of the god and goddess may (this endeavor) be successful" was common in the Late Achaemenid and Hellenistic periods. In passing, it can be also noted that similar invocations of the medieval scribes which are also known from Russian practice could have been a typological phenomenon. However, the invocation of the document from Tapsuhu does not mention any god. The sign UMUN spelled there designates the number 10 which was also the symbol of the god Adad, although in our case it is impossible to insist on this identification. Such a practice could have appeared in Mesopotamia and Syria as a local occurrence among the scribes who wrote on parchment. The tablet from Tapsuhu was written on the frontier between Babylonia and Syria, i.e., in the region where many scribes were bilingual. As Martha Roth has shown, such a tradition was spread among Babylonian scribes of the astronomical texts and marriage contracts.


Oriental Institute, University of Oxford

Prophecy, as attested on cuneiform tablets, has been the subject of extensive research with the Old Testament prophets in mind, resulting in the publication of several books that gather up relevant texts.' From Old Babylonian Mari comes a wealth of material which includes prophecies emanating not only from Mari itself, but also from Aleppo and Tuttul among other centres. From the kingdom of Eshnunna comes the Old Babylonian oracle of Kititum, a goddess known only from that period. From Neo-Assyrian Nineveh come prophecies mainly emanating from Ishtar of Arbela. A collection of texts found at Mari, Nineveh and Eshnunna, published in 2003,2 gives the impression that central Babylonia was largely devoid of prophetic activity, as if prophecy were a phenomenon known only outside and at the edges of the core area covered by cuneiform king-lists, and not in the great cities of lower Mesopotamia; and some discussions have implied a similar limitation.' A few, less biblically orientated, have taken into account a brief reference in a Mari letter to a prophet of Marduk, presumably at Babylon,4 and have mentioned an unedited prophecy from Old Babylonian Uruk, and another from Old Babylonian Kish contained within a formal royal inscription. For the latter two prophecies, more detailed research, presented here, shows that Inanna—Nanay of Uruk played a particularly eminent role, not only in her own city but also at Kish. This study is offered as a token of deep appreciation to Ben Foster for his wide-ranging and generous scholarship in Akkadian literature and history.


Yale University

Thus we find strange bed-fellows, and the mortal and immortal prematurely make acquaintance.

J. Sheridan LeFanu, "Green Tea"

An incomplete and seemingly obscure Middle Egyptian literary text known as the Tale of the Herdsman, probably originating during the early Middle Kingdom,' relates an encounter between a man and weird woman in a marsh. The man—apparently a herdsman from what follows2— ultimately addresses a group of cattle under his charge, referring as well to a group of herdsmen and magicians accompanying the animals. The description of the female who inspires terror in the male narrator seems somewhat incomplete, and may be open to several interpretations. The brevity of the surviving portion of the story3 and the unusual content of the account have attracted few studies; those that have addressed the grammar and lexicography of the text have presented often questionable grammar and have neglected to search widely for parallels, with the exception of the well know Coffin Text mate to the herdsmen's "water spell." When one considers the place of the encounter, the fact that the narrator has gone into the marsh alone, ahead of companions whom he later addresses, and taking into account the description of the woman—however vague it may be—a host of texts and images present themselves to illuminate the account. In particular, in the light of a re-examination of several songs from the corpus of New Kingdom Love Poetry, alongside the texts known as the Pleasures of Fishing and Fowling, the Voyage of the Libyan Goddess, the Songs of the Drinking Place from the Colonnade Hall of Luxor Temple, and the images and texts in the Middle Kingdom tomb of Ukhhotep at Meir, the herdsman's encounter becomes an image of what might happen if the boundaries between the old year and the new, the angry and the pacified goddess of the Eye of the Sun, were transgressed, and mortal worshippers and the immortal object of their veneration—the once and future pacified but still very angry and deadly goddess—were to meet prematurely.

The myth of the wandering Goddess of the Eye of the Sun is closely tied to the time of the summer solstice and the coming of the Nile Inundation.5 Having fled her father Re for the far south and west, she becomes a raging lioness, seeking whom she may devour in the deserts of the south. Hunted by Onuris, enticed back to Egypt by Thoth, she returns, and transforms from the wild, unpredictable Sakhmet, dangerous to Egypt and all life, and becomes the pacified, helpful Bastet, benevolent to Egypt, but still capable and pleased to cast her fire against the enemies of Egypt and order. The earliest surviving clear presentation of this constellation of concepts is the Book of the Heavenly Cow, first attested on the outermost shrine of Tutankhamun, but based on concepts of which at least a few are ultimately of Middle Kingdom date, if not older.6 Other texts of Middle Kingdom date probably allude to the revels for the returning goddess, both at temple settings and within the Western Desert.? Two doorjambs from Buhen appear to relate to a New Kingdom version of the later attested accounts in which the god Thoth entices and accompanies the goddess back to Egypt and pacifity.8 On one doorjamb (‘794 + 836) Thoth is p hms nfr hwi we.t m hb ir.t n Hr nb Bhn, "the spouse, who treads the road on the festival of the Eye of Horus-Lord-of-Buhen;" on the other he is rrdr Wd3.t shtp m s.t=s, "'one who sets' the contented Healthy Eye in her place:'

Seeing the goddess—beholding the benevolent goddess whose pacification is the ultimate outcome of the happy, albeit at times no doubt alarming, events of the nocturnal revels—comes at the end of a temporally specific and ritually governed bout of feasting, consumption of alcohol, and sexual activity.1° When the goddess returns, Egyptians greet her and the strange entourage that accompanies her. She brings with her foreign adorrants, and animals of the far southeast, both real and mythical, evocative of her presence on the far southeastern edge of the world.



Yale University

I. Introduction

Some years ago, I published a study of ceramic imagery in Sumerian, Akkadian, Egyptian, and biblical texts.' Since then, small slips of paper bearing additional Mesopotamian references have occasionally appeared on my desk. It is a pleasure to unite them with the rest in this volume honoring the person who left these slips, a person whose love of Bach and words is legendary among his family and friends.

The present contribution also affords an opportunity to expand on several points that I only touched upon before, especially the important relationships between the stages and methods of ceramic manufacture and the nature of ceramic imagery. As Vandiver puts it, "The commonplace use of pottery and brick making as imagery implies common knowledge of the technology ... the process of transformation during forming and firing seems to have had the appeal of a somewhat magic process in which clay, made plastic by water, is formed into incredible shapes and then undergoes mutation by fire to rocklike hardness—a process which has been described as turning rocks into rocks."

These ideas have now been bolstered by recent anthropological and theoretical research on color and pyrotechnology, focusing on materials invented in the ancient Near East (glazed clay, faience, and glass), particularly with regard to how the apparent magic inherent in their production influenced how objects made in such materials functioned in ritual actions, luxury goods, elite architecture, and other contexts.3 It seems likely that there are signs of what Gell terms the "halo-effect of technical difficulty"4 in, for example, the abundance of glazed ceramic plaques, knobbed cones, and bricks adorning the palatial centers of Assur, Nimrud, Dur-Sharrukin, and elsewhere.

Furthermore, new work in a different direction has also led me to think afresh about ceramic imagery. Multidisciplinary investigation into the manufacture of cuneiform tablets has shed light for the first time systematically on the various ways in which they were shaped and reshaped, enveloped and wrapped.' Given this, I now suspect that there may well have been a measure of corporeal inspiration for the richly layered meanings and intertextual significance of many Mesopotamian ceramic metaphors.



Yale University'

I. Introduction

Proverbs, wherever we encounter them, can provide us with tantalizing glimpses into the mentality of the civilization that produced them. It is therefore very fortunate that significant numbers of proverbs are known to us from the oldest civilization of all, ancient Mesopotamia. Most of them are extant in Sumerian versions only, but there are also bilingual and a few Akkadian proverbs.'

The earliest Sumerian proverbs, incorporated in the Early Dynastic version of the "Instructions of 'S'uruppak," are written on tablets from Tell Abu Salabikh and Adab dating to the middle of the third millennium BCE (Alster 2005: 176-203). The size of this "proverb collection" is, however, fairly small. A much larger sample of Sumerian proverbs has come down to us on tablets from the first half of the second millennium, when Babylonian pupils studied proverbs in school as part of their immersion in Sumerian, which while it slowly ceased to be a vernacular was still

widely used in religion and academia. Hundreds of Old Babylonian tablets of various types, mostly from Nippur and Ur and written by students and teachers alike, preserve this rich corpus of popular and scribal sayings, now accessible to the modern scholar through Bendt Alster's comprehensive recent editions (1997, 2007).

The political and cultural upheavals at the end of the Old Babylonian period sounded the death knell for numerous Sumerian compositions handed down to that point, but not for the tradition of studying Sumerian proverbs. Tablets from the second half of the second millennium and the first millennium BCE, both from Assyria and Babylonia, continue to include proverbs in Sumerian, which are now, as a rule, accompanied by Akkadian translations (Lambert, BWL: 222-275; Alster 2007: 29-3o, 52-54), something very rare in the preceding period.4 As demonstrated in section IV of this paper, the latest quotations of Akkadian versions of Sumerian popular sayings occur in a text from around l00 BCE, which means that we can trace the Mesopotamian proverb tradition over a period of almost 2500 years.

The present article provides an edition of a new Late Babylonian manuscript with bilingual proverbs, and some reflections on the cultural setting of the proverbs and the manuscript in question. My hope that a paper on this very topic may catch the interest of the jubilarian is based, in part, on the fact that the latter has dealt with the post-Old Babylonian proverb tradition himself. In his invaluable "Before the Muses:' the best anthology of Akkadian belles-lettres available and a great resource not only for the lay person, but also for the professional Assyriologist who wishes to explore specific literary texts, the reader will find excellent translations of several bilingual proverbs from the first millennium BCE (Foster 2005: 422-433).5

Late second and first millennium tablets inscribed with bilingual proverbs are known so far from Assur, Nineveh, Kalbu, Babylon, and Sip- par(?). Most of the relevant manuscripts were published almost fifty years ago by Lambert in BWL: 222-275, and only a few new fragments have since then surfaced.6 All of the first millennium proverb tablets hitherto identified are housed in the British Museum in London and the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin. The new manuscript edited in this paper belongs to a number of uncatalogued tablets from the Yale Babylonian Collection and bears the museum number YBC 114o7.7 It was identified by the author in April 2009 and measures 6.8 x 5.o cm; the right upper corner of the tablet is lost. In the center of the reverse, there are traces of a textile pattern. The tablet's provenance is unknown, but since many of the Late Babylonian Yale tablets originate from Uruk and some from Nippur, it stands to reason that it comes from one of those two sites. Internal criteria, discussed below, support this assumption.

Normally, when publishing tablets from the Yale, Babylonian Collection, I do so with the kind permission of its curator, Benjamin Foster. For obvious reasons, it happened to be impossible to ask him this time, and I can only hope that he will grant me his nihil obstat, graciously provided on other occasions, ex post facto.


Western Washington University

The Near Eastern economies were dominated by large palace-or temple-complexes, who owned the greater part of the arable, virtually monopolized anything that can be called

"industrial production" as well as foreign trade (which includes inter-city trade, not merely trade with foreign parts), and organized the economic, military, political and religious life of the society through a single complicated, bureaucratic, record-keeping operation for which the word "rationing", taken very broadly, is as good a one-word description as I can think of.2

M. Finley, The Ancient Economy I. Introduction

Writing was first developed in the late fourth millennium BC in the communities of southern Mesopotamia to document economic affairs, essentially to track and record the ownership and transfer of property. The cuneiform archives of early Mesopotamia preserve a tremendous amount of information on the history and development of commercial exchange.3 Beginning in the second half of the third millennium BC,

this region also witnessed one of the earliest attempts at state formation with the efforts of Sargon of Akkad and his successors (2334-225o BO to unite the city-states of southern Mesopotamia under their rule. Together with the succeeding Ur III (2112-2000 BC) and Old Babylonian (20001595 BO periods, this long era was characterized by the development of territorial states and their centralized administrations. As the quote above highlights, our understanding of the growth of the state in early Mesopotamia has often been based on some very broad assumptions about the public nature of this documentation.

This article uses the records of commerce from the late third and early second millennia BC to examine the relationship between the development of commercial exchange and state formation. In an economy that was not fully monetized, the dynasts of early Mesopotamia used merchants extensively to manage economic transactions. Moreover, because of both the nature of their profession and the development of the cuneiform scribal tradition, merchants were a particularly well documented group in the archaeological record from Mesopotamia. Therefore, the archives of the merchants provide a rewarding avenue for investigating the early political economy.

More broadly, my topic is to examine whether the state's business was the business of the state. That is, to determine whether the growth of centralized power in Mesopotamia in the latter half of the third millennium BC also expressed itself in the form of a state-directed economy. Our assumptions about the development of the state in antiquity ordinarily call for the presence of a coercive authority that was able to ruthlessly exploit the economy for the benefit of the royal authority. In order to investigate this, I am going to discuss the activity of merchants, and their role in society during this era. This discussion is divided into two sections. First, I will assess the evidence concerning the organization of the merchants in the Ur III period. This evidence suggests that the merchants helped to pave the way for the growth of the state while operating outside of its direct control. Following this, I will examine the archives of two entrepreneurs, one each from the Ur III and Old Babylonian periods. The similarities in the activities of these individuals, and their roles vis-a-vis the state, suggest strong parallels across the traditional historical boundaries imposed on the study of the ancient Near East.

Many general historical works on the ancient Near East continue to describe the growth of society in early Mesopotamia using a progressive model for the political economy. According to this model, the first half of the third millennium BC was characterized by the "Temple-city", the second half of the third millennium witnessed the development of the "statist" economy, and finally, the first half of the second millennium saw the rise of the private sector in cooperation with the palace. By contrast, I am going to concentrate on the developments that actually bind these often-separated periods together.


School of Oriental and African Studies, the University of London

The subject of this article is a minor masterpiece of Assyrian literature. It is a real pleasure to dedicate it to the honour of Benjamin R. Foster. In his new translation of the Epic of Gilgames for Norton Critical Editions and his magnificent and ever-expanding anthology, Before the Muses, Ben Foster has not only translated the masterpieces of Babylonian and Assyrian literature but also exposed to a wide readership many neglected compositions, some of which were perhaps deservedly obscure. The Assyrian elegy was long neglected, but undeservedly so.

For a poem of its importance, the Assyrian elegy has had rather a strange history. It is inscribed on a tablet which was excavated at Kuyunjik, the citadel of Nineveh, and delivered to the British Museum in the 185os, where the tablet is now K 89o. The text was first made known by S. Arthur Strong in 1894, in an article that gave editions of two tablets from Nineveh containing collections of oracular prophecies from the reigns of Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal, K 2401 and K 883 (now texts nos. 3 and 7 in Simo Parpola's edition of Assyrian Prophecies).' In an extended textual note on 1. 4 of K 883 Strong gave a full transliteration of K 89o, which he observed "contains some interesting words and forms:' He did not translate it and nor, for a long time, did anyone else.



CNRS, Paris

Une tablette divinatoire découverte à Suse et datant du milieu du He millénaire retient notre attention.' Elle est consacrée à la figure omineuse GIS.TUKUL, «1' arme ». Elle contient deux colonnes par face et son ordonnancement, déjà, est insolite ; si, sur la face, les première et deuxième colonnes occupent, respectivement, le côté gauche et le côté droit du support, au revers, à 1' inverse de la disposition habituelle, la troisième colonne est situ& à gauche, la quatrième à droite. Elle porte le nom de son propriétaire, un certain Surri-Samas-u-Adad, qui est mentionné sur cinq des neuf tablettes divinatoires découvertes à Suse.

On lui connait un duplicat néo-assyrien ou ne sont partiellement conservées que les premières sentences.2 Un autre document, également néo-assyrien, en reproduit la première sentence à l' initiale du colophon of elle signale, comme it est de coutume, 1' incipit de la tablette suivante ; la tablette étant la onzième et dernière du chapitre du traité d' extispicine consacré au « doigt » la sentence reproduit donc le début de la première tablette du chapitre suivant de ce traité qui est consacré, précisément, à 1' étude de «1' arme ».3 Le texte, introduit dans le corps du traité d' extispicine à un moment de son histoire, a donc été étudié pendant près d' un millénaire au moins, même si, avec le temps, son contenu a pu subir quelques modifications seconder.


I. The Problem

Paraphrasing the title of a famous book by Paul Veyne, "Did the Greeks believe in their myths?" we could ask as well: did the ancient Mesopotamians believe in their royal inscriptions? The statements that build up any celebrative program should find an appropriate balance between praise and credibility. A too "normal" statement is easily credible but useless, while an exaggerated statement is functional to the purpose of celebration, but runs the risk of being received with scepticism or even to be considered a true and proper cheat.

To our own appreciation, the general tone (or expressive level) of the Mesopotamian royal inscriptions seems too bombastic to be persuasive, and several statements appear so patently false as to lack any effectiveness. Our immediate reaction is to reject such statements as false and to ridicule. But our own appreciation is different from that of the real, primary, contemporary audience to which the royal inscriptions had been addressed, for various reasons.

First of all, we have been trained in a more critical way; we are better accustomed to evaluate and criticize, to confront different statements from different sources, to keep in mind the interest and purpose of the authors, and so on. We have to duly consider that the people living in ancient Mesopotamia had no access—in general terms—to alternative sources. To tell the truth, most of them had not even access to the inscriptions themselves, and had to rely on simplified versions through different channels of transmission (oral, visual, objectual, ceremonial). In any case, the practical possibility of confronting different testimonies was seldom available, and even the intellective attitude to do that was out of question. In such conditions, the level of credibility of the ancient propaganda was much higher than our own.


Yale University

The Nineteenth and Twentieth Dynasties witness some of the greatest battles of pharaonic history—Ramesses II's daring chariot charge at Kadesh, the repeated and often massive Libyan incursions during the reigns of Merneptah and Ramesses III, and the latter's naval encounter with the Sea Peoples. These events are recounted in lengthy and detailed hieroglyphic inscriptions, in most cases accompanied by large-scale reliefs depicting the battle and its aftermath. Egyptian temples served as the setting for Egyptian historical texts, and such compositions not only interact with their physical context, but also exist within a complex labyrinth of intertextuality—both with their historical predecessors and other genres of texts. Among these genres are fictional accounts of military events, which appear to be a direct result of the militarism of the Ramesside age.'

The use of historical elements in fictional tales provides information about the author of the texts and his sources, and contains important clues as to the historical knowledge of the intended audience. Without a proper appreciation of history, the entertainment value of fiction based on historical events disappears. Examination of the historical knowledge required of the ancient Egyptian audience may enable one indirectly to recover details of Egyptian historiography otherwise lacking from the written record. While the Middle Kingdom was—even for the Egyptians—the golden age of literature, the corpus of New Kingdom stories is more significant for a study of historical fiction, since it is only during the latter period that a wide range of historical texts and fictional literature covering the same events appears in the extant material. The historical settings of the great works of the Middle Kingdom, such as the Instruction for Merikare, Instruction of Amenemhat, Prophecies of Neferty, and the stories in Papyrus Westcar, provide useful comparisons for New Kingdom historical fiction, but the relevant historical sources for much in those earlier tales are now lost or obscure. However, with a definition of historical fiction and demonstration of its applicability within ancient Egyptian literature, one may ultimately shed light on literary production from the Middle Kingdom through to the flowering of demotic literature in the Graeco-Roman Period.

Without tackling the enormous topic of fictionality in ancient Egyptian literature,2 one may offer a preliminary definition of "historical fiction:" a fictional narrative in which the process of historical events is itself an actor within the plot and whose characters are directly and repeatedly influenced by historical events or are themselves fictionalized versions of individuals who shaped historical events. The first criterion separates historical fiction from fiction with a historical setting; a story with a historical setting typically has only one or two events that might affect a character's behavior, but the development of the character, irrespective of his historical setting, remains a primary impetus to the plot. In historical fiction, the specific time period permeates, limits, and defines the actions of the characters and the plot development—the flow of historical events, even if augmented by fictional elements, provides the boundaries for the narrative. Similarly, the primary characters in a work of historical fiction are either fictionalized versions of known individuals or are entirely fictional characters who frequently interact with known individuals.

Four tales within the corpus of the "Late Egyptian Stories" demonstrate how this working definition of historical fiction applies specifically to ancient Egyptian literature: The Quarrels of Apepi and Seqenenere (QAS), The Capture of Joppa (COD, Thutmose III in Asia (TM), and The Libyan Battle Story (LBS). The following sections present summaries of these four texts along with new perspectives on lexicographic and thematic aspects of the stories that bear on their interpretation as historical fiction. With a working definition of historical fiction and specific examples thereof one may then tackle a larger comparison of fictional tales with a historical setting with actual historical fiction.


University di Roma, La Sapienza

The systematic exploration of the peripheral sectors of the Administrative Quarter in the Royal Palace G (Matthiae 2008: 41-61) of Early Bronze IVA (ca. 2400-2300 BO was recently resumed in order to complete the excavation of every sector, even those in a poor state of preservation, before the beginning of structural restorations made for the creation of the Archaeological Park of the Early and Old Syrian town (Matthiae 2004: 302-304). During this work, we uncovered a small room, L.8778, within the Throne Room, L.2866 (Matthiae 2006: 452-458, figs. 4-8) and one room behind it to the South, L.2982 (Matthiae 2004: 310-317, figs. 7-17). Two more quite large rooms, L.9330 and L.9583, were found North of the Court of Audience, L.2752, in the so-called Northern Quarter (Matthiae 2004: 310-317, figs. 7-17). These operations, which made new, important contributions to our understanding of the history and culture of the oldest levels of Ebla, were accomplished between 2003 and 2007, the same years when the Italian Archaeological Expedition to Syria of the Sapienza University of Rome was intensively engaged in two successive operations in the Lower Town.

This project was carried out in Area FF, where, between 2002 and 2004, we brought to light the Southern Palace of Middle Bronze II (ca. 1800-1600 BC), the probable residence of the Palace Prefect of the Old Syrian period, the age of the Amorite Dynasties (Matthiae 2004: 326346, figs. 27-44), and in Area HH, where, between 2004 and 2007, we discovered the imposing Temple of the Rock of Early Bronze IVA and the superimposed cult buildings of Temples HH4 and HH5 of Early Bronze IVB2 (ca. 2150-2000 BC), and of Temples HH3 of Middle Bronze I (ca. 2000-1800 BC), and HH2 of Middle Bronze II (Matthiae 2007a; Matthiae 2006:458-493, figs. 9-36; Matthiae 2007b: 485-514, figs. 3-29, 36; Matthiae 2009b).



Yale University

The following text was recently identified by the author among the few remaining (previously) uncataloged tablets in the Yale Babylonian Collection, and it is a great pleasure to offer this unusual and interesting find to Benjamin R. Foster in honor of this festive occasion.'

While the tablet published here (YBC 11381) is undated, it can be roughly anchored chronologically on the basis of its Neo-Babylonian script.2 Given the composition of the Yale holdings of texts from this period, and on the basis of indicators within the text to be discussed below, it is likely that the tablet comes from Uruk. Elsewhere in this volume, Eckart Frahm publishes a separate text, and we believe that both texts may come from the same archival context (the style and format of the texts are similar, as are their use of phonetic glosses and colophons).3 In determining the archival context, therefore, the two texts should likely be considered together.



University of California, Berkeley

Those of us with enough foresight to have chosen to study Assyriology as Ben Foster was preparing Before the Muses' for publication were rewarded with previews of the artful turns of phrase, the witty renderings, puns, and literary allusions in his translations of works, lesser- or well-known, that fill that already-classic weighty authority. Ben's mastery of the nuances of language—dead and alive, Semitic and not—reflects his belief that textual analysis and literary criticism could and ought to proceed from what the text actually said—and that what the translation said had to make sense, or it wasn't right: Foster's "First Rule of Translation:' The present study reflects my interest and continuing work on the texts of Hellenistic Uruk, in particular the study of the prosopographical and onomastic data contained therein. This work is a preliminary study, and it will be clear where conclusions are tentative or even speculative. Although I believe the analysis reflects what the texts say and that it makes sense, I keep the corollary to the first rule of translation in mind: "Just because it makes sense doesn't mean it's correct:' issu ssipram anniam limhur.


The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

Two decades ago, it was proposed that the Sippar gagum ceased to function as a residential institution some time in or after the reign of Samsuiluna. Janssen's idea was based on the observation of three phenomena: (a) the absence of real estate transactions for properties physically situated in the gagum, (b) the near-disappearance of the titles ugula lukur and i.du8 ga.gi4.a in the Late Old Babylonian period (hereafter: "Late OB"), and (c) the complete disappearance of the munus dub.sar and dub.sar sa lukur.mes after Ae "k" (= 1686 BC?). The last twenty years have seen neither confirmation nor disproof of the proposal, but a review of new data suggests that the Cloister survived down into the time of Samsuditana, though with some important changes attending.


University of California, Berkeley

Benjamin Foster's brilliant philological, literary, social-historical and historiographical scholarship has enriched the field of Assyriology with his work in Sargonic inscriptions, Akkadian literary genres, and the history of our discipline. His Before the Muses offers the non-Assyriological public elegant translations of belletristic texts long inaccessible to all but cuneiformists, as well as being of inestimable value to specialists. In gratitude for these gifts I offer the following discussion of the livestock metaphor for the divine stars and planets,`which Wolfgang Heimpel first defined in his contribution to the Festschrift for Ake Sjöberg.' Here, I extend Heimpel's discussion somewhat and underscore the persistence of this metaphor across a wide range(!) of literary and scientific cuneiform texts and beyond.

The use of figurative faunal imagery to describe the gods in cuneiform texts is known in both Sumerian and Akkadian. Jeremy Black wrote about the gods as "small birds" before Inanna, and D. Marcus, in his study of similes in Neo-Assyrian, cited a passage in the annals of Assurbanipal that compares the gods of Sumer and Akkad to "tired donkey

foals" before Marduk.3 These figures of speech strike us as lyrical and poetic, as indicative of a sensitivity to the environment on the part of the cuneiform writers, who contrived those images. As Black said, "some images are used in a way which may be called 'monochrome: i.e., draw upon only one point of comparison with their referents ... Other images are much more than structural literary devices serving merely to decorate the text ... Some images are an organic outgrowth of the real situation which they are intended to illuminate ... These images too are closer to symbols, because there is some intrinsic connection between the significant and the signifie." The connection between gods and stars might be said to be of the nature of symbol, being based on a conception of intrinsic connection found in the luminosity attributed to both, indeed that radiance is a principal characteristic of both gods and celestial bodies.5 But the heavens as a locus of the divine has a long history in ancient Mesopotamia and does not stem from only one idea, such as having the characteristic of radiant light, or have only one meaning.6 The particular metaphor of interest in this paper assumes the symbolic connection between gods and stars and focuses instead on the complex "polychrome" livestock metaphor applied to each of them as well as the extension of the metaphor into the term tarbasu "animal pen" for the horizon.

Enüma Anu Enlil Tablet 5o describes an arrangement of stars in three groups with respect to the horizon, termed the tarbasu or "pen" (of the heavens) thus: harran Samsi sepit tarbasi sat Ea harran Samsi tar]basi sat Anu harran Samsi res tarbasi su[t Enlil] "The road of the sun at the foot of the pen (contains) those (stars) of Ea; the road of the sun of the middle of the pen (contains) those (stars) of Anu; the road of the sun of the head of the pen (contains) tho [se of Enlil]." This celestial animal stall, the MULE.TUR, is said to stand "for" the entire sky (DIM.MA.AN.NA/ana nap-bar same), just as each entry in this section of EAE 50-51 stands "for" something, i.e., ana x, e.g., MUL.APIN ana ser'i surri "The Plow constellation stands for starting the furrow" (BPO 2 III 2), or MUL.NIM.MA "The Star of Elam stands for cold" (BPO 2 III 11).

The use of ana "standing for" appears to be to connect the star or celestial feature with some earthly counterpart, the starting of the furrow, the cold season, a steady market, no rain. The celestial cattle pen comes at the end of this list of correlations and is said to stand for the entire sky, which is further explained by virtue of the equivalent DIM = bang "to create as standing also for the "creatures" (birth' tu) of the sky, that is, the stars themselves. Thus muLE.TUR.RA DIM.MA.AN.NA [i-qab-bi?] a-na nap-har AN-e DIM // na[p-ha-ru DIM // ba-nu-u] a-na bi-nu-ut AN-e i-qab-bi (II122-22a) "the cattle pen is for the entirety of the sky; for the entirety of the sky because (in the vocabularies) it says DIM = napharu, (and) for the creatures of the sky because it says DIM =

The word binutu can refer to divine entities, gods or demons.9 Here, the creatures:' literally, the stars, are figuratively the divine cattle. The image produced is nothing less than cosmic, the "pen" representing (standing for) the entire sky, encompassing all that is in it and envisioned as the entire herd enclosed in a round pen. The round shape of heaven is secured by the use of kippatu "circumference," or "totality:' in reference to it in other contexts.



Vanderbilt University

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there

L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between (1953)

1. Chronicles of Past Dynasties

Just under 4000 years ago, a Mesopotamian scribe by the name of NurIlabrat (miin-susuR) collected diverse traditions into his own recension of a cuneiform document recalling past dynasties. His work was one of many similar efforts, before and after him, with prototypes going back at least to the Ur III dynasty a century earlier.' But Nur-Ilabrat was more thorough in producing his version and it will serve me well for these comments. We label what he created the Sumerian King List (SKL), but nothing about this title quite fits: The language is certainly Sumerian, but the culture producing this version may not have been. The document mentions many kings, but that is not its major aim. Its format is that of a list, but it was designed to promote an argument. This argument was largely parabolic: Kingship, an institution that governed the gods, was brought down to earth as a gift from heaven so that human beings might conduct their affairs in a purposeful fashion. Nur-Ilabrat was likely operating from Isin during the reign of its last king Damiq-ilisu.2 Cycling. backwards from Isin and from Sin-magir, the last king of Isin known to

have died still ruling it, Nur-Ilabrat eventually invoked two dozen cities, recalled 14o kings, and covered almost 275,000 years. His knowledge was stunningly precise, for he can tell us that after the Flood, the Kish dynasty lasted 23,310 years, 3 months and 31/2 days.

This slightly decorated sketch of the SKL is useful, since the historical as well as historiographic issues it raises sharpen when set in parallel with those brought out in the Hebrew Book ofjudges. Such matters are always of major interest to our profession, and I am hoping that with his catholic taste in all literatures that are ancient my friend Ben might enjoy this comparative musing on two vestiges from the ancient world despite their gaps in time, place, and culture.

1.1. History: Nur-Ilabrat's and Ours

Nowadays, few defend Nar-Ilabrat's reliability as a historian, not just in events that were too distant from his own days, but even in details that he may have known from actual records. We can challenge him because in recent decades we too have recovered many documents that bear on the information he is plying. We have myths, legends, scribal material, contemporaneous inscriptions, and living documents from which to tease out any reality evoked in the testimony. Moreover, we have mighty computers that crunch evidence and spit out synchronisms Nur-Ilabrat could scarcely control. Therefore, we are often better at the business of history charting than he is.

It is really too bad that we cannot say the same about our capacity to control the history of Israel, let alone that of the Judges period. The land that God has promised the patriarchs and matriarchs is nothing like the soil of Mesopotamia. So far, it has delivered negligible documentation on all those personalities we know so well from Scriptures and from the movies. In fact, were it not for Mesopotamian and to a lesser extent SyroPhoenician sources, we might not be able to authenticate many kings from Israel or Judah.


The Johns Hopkins University

It is generally acknowledged that our understanding of the ancient Near Eastern reality would be better served if archaeologists were conversant in textual sources and philologists understood how to use material culture data.2 At the same time, it is obvious that this ideal is difficult to achieve, due to constraints of time, inclination, and talent. As an archaeologist, I was extremely fortunate to have Ben Foster as my Akkadian mentor, allowing me entrée into the world of Assyriology so as to inform and enhance my understanding of the ancient Near East. My Assyriological training also facilitated an awareness of the pitfalls and uncertainties of the philological enterprise, cautioning me against too much faith in philological opinion, a danger that other archaeologists not infrequently fall prey to. I therefore offer this modest contribution in tribute to Ben, in the hope that he will find this effort at textual "analysis" (albeit of an undeciphered text!) by an archaeologist of some interest.

In the 2004 excavation season at Tell Umm el-Marra, Syria, four lightly baked clay cylindrical objects with incised symbols on them were found

Peale Biblique Jerusalem

Myth, magic, and ritual are often considered the last survivors of an outdated world, buried by the advances of science and reserved for scholarly research. This supposed progress (the passing from myth to science) would have been made possible by the ascendancy of reason over human activities. But was there a time when man was not reasonable, or was less reasonable?

The definitions relating to myth and the mythological world are innumerable and very often quite different from one author to another, even though they deal with the same object, the same knowledge. I will be content to follow the definition which Wikipedia, the Internet encyclopedia, proposes, for despite its brevity, it gives the essential points which must be taken into consideration.


Columbia University

Structuralism is dead—and in the study of the Ancient Near East it had a relatively short-lived impact that only few scholars explicitly acknowledged. In the 1970-1980s the "Rome school" of Near Eastern historians, with Liverani, del Monte, Fales, and Zaccagnini as the driving forces, worked on a lexicon of Assyrian ideology inspired by semiotics. The group produced a series of groundbreaking books and articles, some more overtly structuralist than others.2 These works had a great impact on studies of royal ideology in Mesopotamia, especially those on the NeoAssyrian period, some of which took the ideas a bit too far in that they saw everything Assyrians produced through that lens.3 The structuralist approach has influenced ancient studies otherwise as well, perhaps in a more indirect way, in its concern with alterity, the representation of "the other:' or however else one wants to formulate it. The binary oppositions that lie at its basis suit the study of interactions between various groups well. In classics interest in that topic peaked in the 198os and produced a set of excellent studies.4 In Ancient Near Eastern studies fewer scholars addressed the subject, but especially members of the same Rome school wrote on it. The basic idea these writings expressed is simple: all foreigners were enemies because they presented the negative mirror image of the cultures that wrote our sources. In essence the world can be summed up as divided into two: Assyrians and non-Assyrians, Greeks and barbarians, and many other variations. Alterity remains astoundingly relevant today and the source of much angry debate. Remarkably many speak of a "clash of civilizations" on the world stage or even in their own societies.

The seminal study of scholarly interaction with the foreign east remains, of course, Edward Said's Orientalism, which appeared just when I started my studies with Ben Foster. Ben must have read the book immediately after its publication and referred to it casually in the midst of a class where we read some Sumerian or Akkadian text. He did not intend to turn his students into post-colonial critics, but showed by example what he expected us to do: read ancient Mesopotamian texts closely, but also be aware of what is going on intellectually outside the field of Assyriology. And with this contribution to his Festschrift I hope to show him that I did listen: I propose here a close reading of a famous text, starting with some structuralist analysis but taking it outside that framework, as an illustration of why the approach failed. In the end, I hope to shed some light on the how the Assyrians thought about at least one "other" in a somewhat more nuanced way than a simple "us vs. them"

The text I read here is Sargon's report on his eighth campaign,9 a royal statement of military achievement that rightly deserves a place in Ben Foster's anthology of Akkadian literature. Although written in prose, the author (or authors, a subject I will address later on) used poetic imagery, metaphors, and wordplay in a manner no other royal account of Assyria matches. Neologisms abound and throughout the text the language is unusual and startles the reader. I assume—maybe mistakenly—that the author was a man, and the language shows clearly that he knew his Akkadian very well. Our label "Eighth Campaign account" does not do credit to his work. Perhaps we should call it "Sargon II's epic" if I may borrow Jan Assmann's suggestion for the report on the Nubian Piye's cor quest of Egypt." Sargon's report is ideal for close reading: it is alma completely preserved, of sufficient length, and focuses on one event, the defeat of Rusa of Urartu in 714 BC.


I. Introduction

The career of Ur-Bagara, an official who appears both in documents from the time of Sarkalisarri and Gudea, has been discussed on other occasions by the present author.2 The documents in which he occurs are discussed here in detail. They are documents with controversial dating. The aim of this contribution is to try to identify the time frame during which these documents were written.

Several scholars have analyzed this documentation or fractions of it and arrived at different results regarding the dating.

Foster (198o: 29-42) analyzed one group of texts which concerns the records of allocations of different types of goods to members of the royal family (lugal, nin, dumu-nita/mi2-lugal) and to high-ranking officials of the kingdom, both royal3 and local, on the occasion of journeys made by the king and his followers to the Sumerian cities. This group of tablets certainly comprises RA 9: 82; L1212 + 4 A-72;1472; 2940; 4548; 4566; 4686; 4699; 5791; 9374; 9428; MCL 114; RTC 127; 134; 135; CT 5o, 172. These texts, except for RA 9: 82 and MCL 114 which are from the time of Naramsin, were surely written during the reign of Sarkalisarri.4



University of Copenhagen

The following is an attempt at a survey of the vast increase in our Early Dynastic and Sargonic cuneiform documentation that has been one of the results of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. There has been quite a controversy over these "illicit" tablets, which it would not be proper to discuss in an article dedicated to the Curator of the Babylonian Section of a large Western museum. Suffice it here to say that there can be no such thing as an illicit tablet, only illicit methods of procuring and trading it—after all, the Sumerians could hardly have known that they were writing illicit tablets—and they are part and parcel of humanity's cultural heritage and collective memory.

The texts under consideration here date from the Fara period, i.e., ED Ma, to Late Sargonic. Obviously, also other periods are represented among these new texts; above all, there is a huge body of Old Babylonian tablets, with lesser numbers of Ur III and Neo-Babylonian texts. A most interesting group is the Uruk III tablets that appear to have been found at Zabala. But since I haven't studied those materials at all, I shall concentrate on the ED and Sargonic periods.

These tablets appeared on the market in ever increasing numbers ever since the First Gulf War in 1991. Since accredited museums as a rule would not purchase them, they were sold to a host of private collectors throughout the world. Some of these collectors have been very enlightened and forthcoming in assisting to make their collections, large and small, known to the scholarly world and eventually published. The trade appears now to have all but stopped, at least in the West, so it is time to take stock.

Ruhr-Universitiit Bochum

It is a pleasure to offer this small contribution in honor of Ben Foster which reflects on his work as Curator of the Yale Babylonian Collection. During his curatorship, he was instrumental in the acquisition of an Old Akkadian mirror for the Yale collection. The publication of this mirror, I thought, would be an appropriate tribute to his work. Indeed, it is due to Ben that I know of the existence of this unpublished mirror in the Yale Collection.

The mirror, YBC 2453, is a rare and unique object (see fig. 1). I would like to thank Ulla Kasten, Associate Curator of the Yale Babylonian Collection, for making the mirror available for publication, for providing information concerning its history, and for permission to publish the photograph which was taken by Sophie Cluzan, curator in the Ancient Near Eastern Department at the Louvre. It originally belonged to the Ada Small Moore Collection, the seals of which were sold at auction at Sotheby's Auction House in New York by Bishop Paul Moore (the grandson who had inherited the collection) in 1991. There is a delightful recollection of his grandmother in the beginning of the Sotheby's catalogue, including the story of how she travelled and collected both Near and Far Eastern art on her travels in the thirties. After Bishop Moore passed away, the mirror came with the remnants of the collection to Yale.



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