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Uruk

(534 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin)
[German version] This item can be found on the following maps: Mesopotamia (modern al-Warkā; Sumerian unu(g)ki; in the OT Erek/ rk, cf. Gn 10:10; Greek Ὀρχόη/ Orchóē). City in southern Babylonia, discovered in 1849 by W. K. Loftus, excavated by German archaeologists since 1912 (with wartime interruptions). Based on settlements of the 5th millennium BC, Uruk developed in the 2nd half of the 4th millennium ('Uruk period') into one of the first large cities, with an area of 250 ha. Uruk was the cult city of Inanna/Ishtar…

Turfan

(280 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin)
[German version] Town and oasis region (T. basin) in eastern Uyghurstan (Xinjian) in China, to the south of the Tianshan mountains, on the northeastern edge of the Taklamakan desert, an important station on the Silk Road. There are numerous historically and archaeologically significant places there: 10 km to the west of modern T. is the Chinese fortress of Jiaohe, which from the 2nd cent. BC until the 5th cent. AD was the capital of the kingdom of Cheshi. Around 100 BC Gaochang came into being 30 …

Thumna

(102 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin)
[German version] (Θούμνα/ Thoúmna Ptol. 6,7,31; Τάμνα/ Támna Str. 16,4,2-4 and Steph. Byz.; Thomna Plin. HN 6,153 and 12,64; inscriptions Tumna, cf. Biblical Timna Gn 36:12, 1 Chr 1:51; modern Ḥaǧar Kuḥlān). On the Incense Road between Sabbatha and Mariaba in modern Yemen, once the capital of the kingdom of the Qatabān ( Kattabaneís). Besides houses, excavations have revealed a gate building, a temple and graves. The dating is still uncertain: between 685/430 BC and 100/200 AD. Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin) Bibliography G. W. van Beek, s. v. Timna, The Oxford Encyclopedia of…

Steppe

(316 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin)
[German version] Steppe is a term for semi-arid regions of vegetation and climate that, in relation to temperature, experience inadequate precipitation for trees to grow. This form of vegetation and climate can be found in southeastern Europe, northern Africa, in various areas of the Near East, of southern Russia and of central Asia. The boundaries both with agrarian land and with desert can fluctuate in accordance with the annual climatic conditions; in the latter case, one can also speak of dese…

Ur

(542 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin)
[German version] This item can be found on the following maps: Mesopotamia (modern Tall al-Muqayyar; Sumerian uriki ; in the OT Ūr kaśdīm, cf. Gn 11,28 and 31; 15,7 i.a.; no Greek name, since it was abandoned in the 4th cent. BC). City in the southernmost part of Babylonia, discovered and identified in 1854 by J. E. Taylor. Excavations on a larger scale took place under C. L. Woolley in 1922-1934, which became well-known because of the discovery of royal tombs with burial gifts of gold, silver and coloured stones. The orig…

Persepolis

(605 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin)
[German version] This item can be found on the following maps: Achaemenids | Alexander | Hellenistic states | India, trade with (modern Taḫt-e Ǧamšīd; Greek Πέρσαι Πόλις/ Pérsai Pólis, Περσέπολις/ Persépolis (Diod. Sic. 17,70,1 et passim.; Str. 15,3,6); Latin Persepolis (Curt. 5,4,33 et passim; Amm. Marc. 23,6,42); Ancient Persian Pārsa, homophone of the name of the territory of Persis). Situated on the north eastern edge of the Marv Dašt Plain, approx. 60 km north of Šīrāz near the opening of the valley through which the road to Pasargadae an…

Tochari

(161 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin)
[German version] (Τόχαροι/ Tócharoi  Str. 11,8,2; Latin Tochari:  Just. Epit. 42,2,2; Thocari: Plin.  HN 6,55; Τάχοροι/ Táchoroi: Ptol. 6,16,4; Athagurae: Amm.  Marc. 23,6,66; Θαγούροι/ Thagoúroi: Ptol. 6,16,2). Group of Inner Asian tribes, after which an Indo-European language is named Tocharian. It is mentioned in the context of the westward migration of the Yuezhi after their defeat in 176 or 174 BC by the Xiongnu (presumed Central-Asiatic antecedents of the Hunni). According to the Geography of Ptolemaeus [65], and in Strabo and Justin (see above) located in Gans…

Mesopotamia

(7,071 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin) | Oelsner, Joachim (Leipzig)
I. General [German version] A. Name The name M., i.e. ‘[land] between the rivers [ Euphrates [2] and Tigris]’, first appears in Arrian (Arr. Anab. 3,7,3; 7,7,3) as a designation for the area of what is now eastern Syria and northern Iraq, probably corresponding to the Aramaic beyn nahrīn and the Akkadian māt birīt nārim (both ‘between the rivers’). However, this expression designated only the region between the bend of the Euphrates and Baliḫ/Ḫabur [1; 2]. Later, M. could also refer to the entire region of the two rivers (Plin. HN 5,86). In modern,…

Sambus

(143 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin) | Karttunen, Klaus (Helsinki)
[German version] [1] Tributary of the Ganges (Σάμβος/ Sámbos). Tributary of the Ganges (Arr. Ind. 4,4: Megasthenes), possibly identical to the Sarabus (Ptol. 7,1,29; 2,13) corresponding to the Sarayū (Agoranis). Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin) [German version] [2] Indian king, 4th cent. BC (Σάμβος/ Sámbos in Arr. Anab. 6,16,3 f., Σάβος/ Sábos in Diod. Sic. 17,102,6 f. and Str. 15,1,33, Σάββας/ Sábbas in Plut. Alexander 64, Sambus in Curt. 9,8,13 and 9,8,17, Ambus in Just. Epit. 12,10, etc.). Indian king; his kingdom, with its capital at Sindimana, lay in the mountain …

Obsidian

(280 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) | Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin)
[German version] ( obsianus lapis, 'stone of Obsius'; obsidianus is the incorrect reading) is a dark, vitreous (Plin. HN 36,196: in genere vitri = Isid. Orig. 16,16,5) volcanic rock that a certain Obsius of Ethiopia is said to have imported to Rome. In the Near East, obsidian was highly regarded from the 8th millennium and in Egypt from the 4th millennium, principally because of the sharp cutting edges of tools that were made of obsidian blades but also because its semi-transparent property made it attractive as a gemstone (Akkadian ṣurru; Egyptian mnw). From the 2nd millennium, obsid…

Irrigation

(1,183 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin) | Rathbone, Dominic (London)
[German version] I. Near East and Egypt Irrigation means the artificial provision of water to fields in order to enable or intensify plant growth. It supported cultivation in rain-fed regions (attested as early as the 5th millennium BC in western Iran), but its primary significance was in areas whose productivity depended entirely on it, their own rainfall never being sufficient, such as the Nile Valley and the middle and lower reaches of the Euphrates and Tigris. In irrigation, the entire surface to b…

Grain

(4,159 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin) | Sallares, Robert (Manchester)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient The various species of hulled and naked wheat ( triticum = t.) and barley ( hordeum) are among the earliest domesticated plants of the Middle East (Q. Ǧarmu; Çatal H.;  Faiyum). Besides  emmer ( t. dicoccum) and einkorn ( t. monococcum), both hulled, the common or bread wheat (naked; t. aestivum) are also species of wheat. The fact that the hulled sorts, which require more work (removal of the hull through roasting), also predominated in later millennia is ascribed to their better storability [1. 35]. The species o…

Pyrgos Lithinos

(119 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, Eckart (Stuttgart) | Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin)
[German version] (Πύργος Λίθινος: Ptol. 1,12,8 M.; 6,13,2 N.; literally 'stone tower'). Important station on the Pamir on the Silk Road leading to China from the west via Antioch [7] and Bactra. Despite the favourable situation with regard to sources - Ptolemy uses the itinerary of Marinus [1] of Tyre as his basis, the latter the notes of the silk trader Maēs Titianus - no one has yet succeeded in a full identification; the town is however marked on the map [2. 6 D2]. Olshausen, Eckart (Stuttgart) Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin) Bibliography 1 J. I. Miller, The Spice Trade of the Roman Empir…

Rabbath-Ammon

(318 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin) | Leisten, Thomas (Princeton)
This item can be found on the following maps: Syria | Theatre | Dead Sea (textual finds) | Hasmonaeans | Pompeius ( Rabbath bnē Ammōn, LXX Ῥαββά/ Rhabbá; Pol. Ῥαβατάμανα/ Rhabatámana, Assyrian bīt ammāna; Philadelphia since the mid 3rd cent. BC; modern Ammān). [German version] I. Through the Persian Period Capital city of the Ammonites (Ammon [2]); the oldest traces of settlement come from the Neolithic Age (7th-6th millennium BC). The earliest important remains with rich tombs on the citadel date from the Middle Bronze Age (1st half of the 2…

Pyrgos Lithinos

(105 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin) | Olshausen, Eckart (Stuttgart)
[English version] (Πύργος Λίθινος: Ptol. 1,12,8 M.; 6,13,2 N.; wörtl. “steinerner Turm”). Wichtige Station im Pamir an der von Westen über Antiocheia [7] und Baktra nach China führenden Seidenstraße. Trotz guter Quellenlage - Ptol. basiert auf dem Itinerar des Marinos [1] von Tyros, dieser auf den Aufzeichnungen des Seidenhändlers Maēs Titianus - ist die Identifizierung noch nicht völlig gelungen; der Ort ist jedoch auf der Karte [2. 6 D2] eingetragen. Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin) Olshausen, Eckart (Stuttgart) Bibliography 1 J. I. Miller, The Spice Trade of the Roman Empire,…

Rhyton

(530 words)

Author(s): Scheibler, Ingeborg (Krefeld) | Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin)
(τὸ ῥυτόν). [English version] I. Gegenstand Trichterförmiges Spende- und Trinkgefäß, meist in Kopf oder Protome eines Tieres endend; die Bezeichnung ist abzuleiten von ῥυσις/ rhýsis (“Strom”), denn die Flüssigkeit konnte durch ein kleines Loch am Boden auslaufen, sofern man es nicht zuhielt [1; 2]. Scheibler, Ingeborg (Krefeld) Bibliography 1 F. von Lorentz, s. v. Rh., RE Suppl. 6, 643 2 W. H. Gross, s. v. Rh., KlP 4, 1426 f. [English version] II. Alter Orient Im Alten Orient und Äg. vor den Achaimeniden sind Rh. lediglich in Anatolien bezeugt. Dort finden sich schon…

Relief

(2,791 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin) | Neudecker, Richard (Rom)
I. Ägypten und Alter Orient [English version] A. Ägypten Die zweidimensionale Wiedergabe von Einzelszenen und größeren Kompositionen hat in Äg. eine lange Trad., zunächst als Gefäßmalerei, dann als Wandmalerei und R. (z. B. Narmer-Palette, protodyn. Zeit, um 3100 v. Chr.). Spätestens seit dem AR traten steinerne Stelen hinzu, errichtet im Zusammenhang mit dem Totenkult, und in längeren Szenen wurden die Taten der Herrscher auf Wänden von Großbauten und Gräbern abgebildet. Im Bestreben, den Gesamtkontext …

Mesopotamien

(6,248 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin) | Oelsner, Joachim (Leipzig)
I. Allgemein [English version] A. Name Die Bezeichnung M., d.h. “[Land] zwischen den Strömen [Euphrates [2] und Tigris]” erscheint erstmals bei Arrian (Arr. an. 3,7,3; 7,7,3) als Bezeichnung für die Gebiete des h. östl. Syrien und nördl. Iraq, vermutlich als Entsprechung zum aram. beyn nahrīn und zum akkad. māt birīt nārim (beides “zwischen den Flüssen”), womit allerdings nur die Region zw. Euphratbogen und Baliḫ/Ḫabur gemeint war [1; 2]. Später kann M. auch die ganze Region der beiden Flüsse bezeichnen (Plin. nat. 5,86). Im mod., ungenauen Spr…

Orthostat

(201 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin) | Höcker, Christoph (Kissing)
[English version] I. Alter Orient und Ägypten In der Vorderasiatischen Archäologie werden als O. die aufrecht stehenden Steinplatten bezeichnet, mit denen urspr. im anatolischen Bereich die Füße der Mauern vor Spritzwasser geschützt wurden. Vom 9. Jh. an dienten sie bes. in den neuassyrischen Palästen der Anbringung statischer und erzählender Reliefs. Berühmt sind die Reliefzyklen in den Palästen der Herrscher Assurnaṣirpal II. in Kalḫu, Sanherib und Assurbanipal in Ninive (Ninos [2]). Aus dem gleichze…

Obsidian

(241 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) | Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin)
[English version] ( obsianus lapis, “Stein des Opsius”; obsidianus ist falsche Lesart) ist ein dunkles, glasartiges (Plin. nat. 36,196: in genere vitri = Isid. orig. 16,16,5) Vulkangestein, das ein gewisser Obsius aus Äthiopien nach Rom eingeführt haben soll. O. wurde in Vorderasien seit dem 8. Jt., in Äg. seit dem 4. Jt. vor allem wegen der scharfen Schneidekanten aus Klingen hergestellter Werkzeuge, aber auch wegen seiner halbtransparenten Eigenschaft als Schmuckstein geschätzt (akkadisch ṣurru; äg. mnw). Ab dem 2. Jt. wurde O. vor allem für Siegel (in Mesopot.: R…
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