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Atraḫasis

(230 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin)
[German version] (‘the extremely wise one’). Protagonist of an Akkadian mythic poem from the ancient Babylonian era (early 2nd millennium BC), of which there were two or three diverging versions. The myth was carried forward in Babylonia and Assyria until the first millennium BC. A newer version arose in the New Assyrian era (7th cent. BC). Texts from  Ugarit and  Hattuša attest to the spread of the myth in the 2nd millennium BC, even beyond Mesopotamia. It treats the creation of human beings from…

Communications

(2,916 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin) | Kolb, Anne (Frankfurt/Main)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient In the ancient Orient, oral and written messages ( Letter) were transmitted by messengers. Messengers handled the supra-regional diplomatic traffic (e.g. the  Amarna letters between Egypt and Palaestine, Cyprus ( Alaschia), Syria, the Hittite kingdom, Mittani, Assyria, Babylonia and Elam), forwarded political or military news (at times gained through espionage), handled interior administrative communication, and transmitted (private) information in the area of comme…

International treaties

(2,514 words)

Author(s): Kehne, Peter (Hannover) | Neumann, Hans (Berlin) | Starke, Frank (Tübingen) | Beck, Hans (Cologne)
[German version] I. General International treaties (IT) are official and binding agreements under international law between two or more subjects of international law, which are legally binding for the entire citizenship in question. They were stipulated orally or in writing; they took the form of unilateral, bi- or multilateral agreements, and always implied the recognition of the other party under international law. IT were often the result of preliminary negotiations; they required ratification by…

Purchase

(1,351 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen) | Neumann, Hans (Berlin)
[German version] I. Introduction After the supersession of the concept that the ideal economic form was an autarkic entity of production and consumption not depending upon trade (e.g. the Homeric oîkos), and after the invention of means of payment - whether in the form of unstamped precious metals or coins - purchase, i.e. the exchange of goods for money, was a self-evident element of ancient societies. In spite of its presumably general distribution, however, purchase was underdeveloped in terms of legal provision. Laws and…

Justice at the gate

(129 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin)
[German version] In Mesopotamia, from the 3rd millennium BC, the gates of temples, cities and other locations (e.g. palaces) could serve as venues for jurisdiction [1. 140 f.; 2. 66 with n. 6; 3. 321-325]. The same was true in Egypt [4. 782]. This was associated with the role of gates as foci of public and economic life in cities, and in the case of temple doors it was also linked to the temple's function as a venue for the taking of oaths of testimony and purification. Door Neumann, Hans (Berlin) Bibliography 1 A. Falkenstein (ed.), Die Inschriften Gudeas von Lagaš, vol. 1: Intro…

Akkad

(105 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin)
[German version] (Agade). There is documentary evidence of this city in northern Babylon that dates up to the second half of the 1st millennium BC, however, no archaeological evidence of its existence has been found. It achieved particular significance as the king's residence and capital city of the Akkadian kingdom, the first large territorial state in  Mesopotamia.  Akkadian Neumann, Hans (Berlin) Bibliography B. R. Foster, Select Bibliography of the Sargonic Period, in: History of the Ancient Near East. Stud. 5, 1993, 171-182 Répertoire géographique des textes cunéiforme…

Leasehold

(919 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin) | Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] I. Mesopotamia, Egypt Leasehold in the sense of the limited taking over of the use of land used for agricultural or gardening purposes against payment of a rent, was attested in Mesopotamia from the middle of the 3rd millennium BC. Both institutional households ( Palace; Temple) as well as private individuals could function as lessors. The rent was set either at an absolute value in kind or silver, or as a part of the harvest. The one third leasehold, which meant that the lessor received 1/3 of the harvest and the leaseholder received 2/3, was typical above all for the ea…

Aristocracy

(1,692 words)

Author(s): Eder, Walter (Berlin) | Neumann, Hans (Berlin) | Stein-Hölkeskamp, Elke (Cologne)
The term aristocracy, when used for ancient societies, must be distinguished from the term aristocracy used in the Middle Ages and in modern times. The aristocracy of antiquity is lacking lordly property as the basis of rule over people who work the land, and also, in principle, an authority that can justify aristocratic status. Heredity and exclusive class thinking are especially weakly pronounced in the Greek areas, even if often through the handing down of property and personal connections, e…

Loan

(1,744 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin) | Schmitz, Winfried (Bielefeld)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient As a contractual service, in which the recipient of money or other negotiable items undertakes to return them and/or provide a service in recompence, lending is attested in Mesopotamia [4. 189-203] from the middle of the 3rd millennium BC [1. 141-145] into the Hellenistic period [2. 43-45; 3. 119]. As well as private individuals, (representatives of) institutions (temple, palace) are recorded as creditors. The loans involved comprised for the most part silver and ba…

Professional associations

(1,103 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin) | Burford-Cooper, Alison (Ann Arbor)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient Certainly there is evidence of the emergence and activity of joint representatives of specific branches of the professions in the Ancient Orient, such as merchants, craftsmen and priests, but there is no proof of PA in the sense of voluntary federations for the protection and defence of political and economic interests [1. 79-82; 2. 161f.]. Neumann, Hans (Berlin) Bibliography 1 A.L. Oppenheim, Ancient Mesopotamia, 1964 2 H.M. Kümmel, Familie, Beruf und Amt im spätbabylonischen Uruk, 1979. [German version] II. Greece and Rome Three different …

Letter

(2,221 words)

Author(s): Schmidt, Peter L. (Constance) | Neumann, Hans (Berlin)
[German version] A. Types of letter In addition to the few texts on letter theory and letter writers ( Epistolography), the ancient genre of ‘letters’ comprises the following: 1. official letters (edicts) comparable to laws, 2. everyday official correspondence, 3. ‘open’ letters akin to oratory a) with one or several senders and multiple addressees (e.g. letters to the Christian community) or b) letters sent to a specific addressee that had a potentially broad public, and finally 4. letters of a priva…
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