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Votive offerings

(1,524 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | Frateantonio, Christa (Gießen)
[German version] I. Ancient Near East and Egypt Votive offerings (VO) to a variety of deities played an important role in the religious practices of the Ancient Middle East and Egypt, as documented by inscriptions found on consecrated objects. In Mesopotamia, the oldest clearly identifiable VO date from the 24th cent. BC [14], and in Egypt from the prehistoric and Early Dynastic eras (end of the 4th/early 3rd millennia; e.g. the Narmer Palette). Most of the attested Mesopotamian offerings came from rule…

Rations

(515 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] I. Ancient Near East In the Ancient Near Eastern oikos or palace economy, the majority or (large) parts of the population were integrated into the institutional households of temples and/or palaces as direct dependents (the extent varied according to region and period). They were provided with the rations of natural produce (grain, oil, wool) guaranteeing them the level of subsistence necessary for their reproduction. In Mesopotamia, these rations of produce were in part supplemented, and in certain periods replaced, by the allocation of areas of land ( c. 6 ha.) as…

Genealogy

(962 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | Meister, Klaus (Berlin) | Rüpke, Jörg (Erfurt)
In early societies, largely based on family organizations, genealogy as a derivation of a person's descent in the form of a pedigree is often used as a means of legitimation and (pseudo-historical) memory, which was always also directed at publicity (genealogy from Greek γενεαλογεῖν; genealogeîn, ‘to talk about [one's] origin’). [German version] I. Near East and Egypt The purpose of lineage, transmitted in the form of a genealogy (generally patrilineal; exceptions in the case of Egyptian rulers), was to legitimate a claim to rulership, to tenure of a …

Leek

(608 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
and other Alliaceae [German version] I. Mesopotamia, Egypt, Asia Minor The numerous Sumerian and Akkadian expressions for Alliaceae, not all of which can be definitely botanically identified, partly refer only to the subspecies leek, shallot, onion or garlic [1. 301]. Leek in its various forms - Sumerian *karaš, Akkadian kar( a) šu, Hebrew kārēš, Aramaic karrāttā, Arabic kurrāṯu - is a word of Oriental culture. Garlic is in Sumerian, sum, Akkadian šūmū, otherwise in Semitic languages ṯūm; the onion is in Akkadian šamaškillū, in Aramaic šmšgl (also as an ideogram in Pahlavi); the…

Deluge, legend of the

(716 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | Stenger, Jan (Kiel)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient In Mesopotamia, the legend of the deluge is preserved in a Sumerian as well as an Akkadian version; the Akkadian one is transmitted in 17th-cent. BC copies of the  Atraḫasīs myth[3. 612-645]. Extensive passages reappear verbatim on the 11th tablet of the recension of the Epic of  Gilgamesh from Niniveh [3. 728-738], and the myth is later also transmitted by  Berosus [1. 20 f.]. The gods perceive the noisy behaviour of the humans as hubris, causing them to eliminate …

Ergasterion

(1,000 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | Burford-Cooper, Alison (Ann Arbor)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient In the palace economies (  oîkos economy) of the Ancient Orient, certain mass products were made for the requirements of (large) patrimonial households themselves, but also for exchange in long distance trade with large ergasteria (factories) in which often several hundred, sometimes far more than a thousand male or female workers were employed. Their wages were normally paid in kind as daily rations; their social status was equivalent to patrimonial subjects, required to perform compulsory service. The best evidence for ergasteria comes from s…

Interest

(2,129 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | Andreau, Jean (Paris)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient and Egypt The early Mesopotamian documents (24th-21st cents. BC) that refer to  loans and advances from institutional bodies to private individuals allow us to surmise that interest was calculated, though without our being able to make any observations about the rates of interest. Instead of being made to pay interest, the debtor was often obliged to undertake agricultural work for the creditor [10. 117]. In the Early Babylonian period (19th-17th cents. BC) a sharp distinction was drawn between loans of grain (331/3 %) and loans of silver (20%…

Urnamma

(97 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin)
[German version] (2112-2095 BC), king of Uruk; the Sumerian King List (Kings' lists) describes U. as the successor to his brother Utu-Ḫeĝal (2119-2113) and the founder of the Third Dynasty of Ur. U. gradually extended the power of the city of Ur at first to the south and then to the north of Babylonia. His early death in battle with enemies in the east of Mesopotamia and his journey to the Underworld are the subject of the poem The Death of Urnamma. Mesopotamia II G Renger, Johannes (Berlin) Bibliography E. Flückiger-Hawker, U. of Ur in Sumerian Literary Trad., 1999.

Secret police

(629 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | Eder, Walter (Berlin)
[German version] A. Ancient Near East Xenophon (Cyr. 8,2,10ff.) tells of undercover informants, the “eyes and ears of the king”, who reported to the Persian king. Antecedents of this Achaemenid institution can be found in Mesopotamia: soothsayers (Mari 18th cent. BC) and state officials (Assyria 8th/7th cents.) undertook in their oath of office to report to the king any moves or actions against him. The extent to which fear of the “eyes and ears of the king” was an encumbrance to contemporaries can be…

Enlil

(59 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin)
[German version] (Sumerian ‘Lord Wind’). City-god of  Nippur and highest god of the Sumerian-Akkadian Pantheon in the 3rd and the 1st half of the 2nd millennium BC. His place was taken in the 1st millennium by  Marduk, the god of Babylon. His spouse was Ninlil ( Mylissa).  Marduk;  Mesopotamia;  Nippur Renger, Johannes (Berlin) Bibliography T. Jacobsen, Treasures of Darkness, 1976.

Cult

(3,745 words)

Author(s): Graf, Fritz (Columbus, OH) | Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | Backhaus, Knut (Paderborn)
[German version] I. General Cult encompasses the entirety of ritual tradition in the context of religious practise. Via Christian usage, the term derives from the cultus deorum (‘divine worship’) named already in Cicero, and corresponds to the Greek thrēskeía; like the latter (and the Latin caerimonia, ‘rites’), it can in pagan language stand simply for ‘religion’ in general and thus refer to the absolute predominance in pagan Greek and Roman religion of ritual actions over faith. There, as in the religious cultures of the ancient Mediterr…

Debt, Debt redemption

(2,856 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | Crawford, Michael Hewson (London)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient Debt incurred by the population which lived on agriculture is a general phenomenon in agrarian societies. It ultimately led to debt bondage, thus threatening the social equilibrium. Debt redemption by sovereign decree was a common means of reducing or eliminating the consequences of debt, i.e. of restoring ‘justice in the land’. Instances of debt redemption are well attested in Mesopotamia from the 3rd millennium BC, but more especially between the 20th and 17th cen…

Wine

(4,434 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | Ruffing, Kai (Münster) | Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
(οἶνος/ oînos; Lat. vinum). [German version] I.Egypt and Ancient Near East Archeological finds (excavations, pictorial representations in tombs) as well as Egyptian and Roman texts contain a plethora of information about the growing, production and use of wine in Egypt from the Early Period to the Ptolemaic-Roman Period. Wine (Egyptian jrp; Coptic ērp; Old-Nubian orpj/ē; cf. in Sappho 51 ἔρπις/ érpis [9. 46], probably an old foreign cult word [7. 1169]) was grown primarily in Lower Egypt or the Nile Delta and in the oases, clearly because of the favourab…

Oils for cooking

(2,001 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient and Egypt In the Ancient Orient and Egypt, oil was not only part of human nutrition (e.g. the daily rations for the population dependent on central institutions), but was also used as body oil, for making scent, for embalming (in Egypt), for medicinal purposes, in craft production, as lamp oil and in the cultic and ritual sphere (e.g. unction for rulers in Israel: 1 Sam 10,1; 16,3; not in Mesopotamia). Depending on the regionally varying agronomic and climatic conditions, oil was obtained from a number of plants: whereas numerous olei…

Market

(2,086 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | von Reden, Sitta (Bristol) | Kuchenbuch, Ludolf (Hagen)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient and Egypt The concept of the market is the subject of controversial discussions in classical Middle Eastern studies and Egyptology, since there was no term, neither in the Mesopotamian area nor in Egypt, that clearly designated the market as a place and a modus operandi. Background of the discussion are, on the one hand, the studies regarding pre-modern societies inspired by K. Polanyi (among others by M. Finley for the classical world), according to which a market did not exist as a system of supply and dema…

Lists

(643 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | Cavigneaux, Antoine (Geneva)
[German version] A. Definition Lists are a graphic-linguistic technique for representing facts and concepts of varying complexity. They asyntactically and enumeratively present facts removed from their written or oral (narrative/descriptive) context. Lists may be exhaustive - with a claim to completeness - or open. In addition to simple lists (compilations of terms and/or numbers in a column or line or row), there are binary lists, in which terms (words) are opposed in two columns. In a matrix, term…

Deification

(1,408 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin) | Bendlin, Andreas (Erfurt)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient In the Ancient Orient the deification of  rulers always occurred in the context of the legitimization and exercise of  rulership. Deified rulers and proper gods were always differentiated on principle. Renger, Johannes (Berlin) [German version] A. Mesopotamia References to the deification of living rulers are geographically restricted to Babylonia and temporally to the late 3rd and early 2nd millennium BC: a) individual rulers claimed divine descent for themselves as a means of legitimizing their rule…

New Year's celebration

(1,992 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | Ahn, Gregor (Heidelberg) | Graf, Fritz (Columbus, OH)
(NYC). The beginning of the year was variously fixed in different local or supra-regional calendars. It was oriented, as far as we know, towards agricultural patterns connected to the time of the year (especially sowing in the spring and harvest in the autumn). The beginning of the year was connected with administrative measures (e.g. raising taxes). Spring and autumn received particular consideration in the festival calendar because of their significance within the agrarian cycle. Because in re…

Measures

(1,991 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | Sallaberger, Walther (Leipzig) | Höcker, Christoph (Kissing) | Schulzki, Heinz-Joachim (Mannheim)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient Although the different basic measurement systems (length, measures of volume and weights) were created and defined independently of each other, at least in Mesopotamia relationships between them were established. In the Ancient Orient as elsewhere, the terms for measures of length were based on body parts (cubit, palm and finger widths), however, the foot was not used as a basic measure of length. Regional and temporal differences must be considered. The Babylonian ‘cubit’ (Sumerian kùš, Akkadian ammatu, normally c. 50 cm; in the 1st millenni…

Ishtar

(181 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin)
[German version] The Semitic goddess I. is etymologically related to  Astarte ( Aṯtarat). Grammatically speaking, the name is masculine (cf. Western Semitic Aṯtar). In southern Mesopotamia she was identified with Innana, the Sumerian city-goddess of  Uruk, and there is evidence of her being worshipped in that city into Achaemenid times. In northern Babylonia and Assyria figures of I. were venerated in numerous cities (I. of the cities  Akkad,  Arbela [1],  Nineveh) and to an extent identified with other goddesses. Th…
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