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Military technology and engineering

(1,756 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin) | Gniers, Andrea Maria (Los Angeles) | Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient For Mesopotamia, as for the Near East in general, we are poorly informed by both written and archaeological sources about military organization, techniques, and engineering. The isolated case of the ‘Vulture Stele’ (about 2500 BC, from Tello, southern Babylonia; [1. pl. 91]) points to differences between heavily and lightly armed soldiers. The war chariots depicted there and on the ‘Ur Standard’ (somewhat older, from Ur; [1. pl. VIII]) were probably static symbols, rather than influential in bat…

Susiana

(76 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin)
[German version] (ἡ Σουσιανή/ hē Sousianḗ), cf. OGIS 54,17; Pol. 5,46,7); today the plain forming part of Ḫūzestān in Iran. From the 3rd millennium onwards the main region of the kingdom of Elam, satrapy of the Achaemenid kingdom, in the Seleucid-Sassanid period referred to as Elymais. Its most significant town (from 4000 BC onwards) was Susa. Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin) Bibliography E. Carter, M. W. Stolper, Elam: Surveys of Political History and Archaeology, 1984  J. Wiesehöfer, Das antike Persien, 1993.

Mills

(1,880 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin) | Baatz, Dietwulf (Bad Homburg)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient and Egypt In the Near Eastern and Egyptian cultures, only grinding mills were used. These consisted of an oblong grindstone and a running stone that was moved back and forth on top of it. Rotary mills, the upper stone of which turned on an axis, did not appear until Roman influence made itself felt. The grinding stones were mostly of ba…

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 an…

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…

Zoo

(933 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin) | Müller, Stefan (Hagen)
(παράδεισος/ parádeisos, ζωγρεῖον/ zōgreîon; Latin vivarium). [German version] I. Ancient Orient Zoos are known primarily from neo-Assyrian palace sites (11th-7th cents. BC), in the sense both of parks populated with animals of every kind and of enclosures in which game was kept (Paradeisos). Reliefs of hunting lions, wild asses etc. are known from the palace of Assurbanipal in Nineveh with representations of cages/enclosures; there are written records of lion enclosures as early as the beginning of the 2n…

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 …

Relief

(3,221 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin) | Neudecker, Richard (Rome)
I. Egypt and Ancient Near East [German version] A. Egypt Egypt had a long tradition of the two-dimensional portrayal of individual scenes and substantial compositions, initially as paintings on pottery, later as wall paintings and reliefs ( e.g. Narmer Palette, Proto-dynastic Period, c. 3100 BC). At the latest from the time of the Old Kingdom onwards, stone steles could be added to these, erected in association with the cult of the dead (dead, cult of), while the deeds of rulers were depicted in longer scenes on the walls of major b…

Necropoleis

(7,045 words)

Author(s): Tsochos, Charalampos (Erfurt) | Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin) | Niemeyer, Hans Georg (Hamburg) | Genz, Hermann (Istanbul) | Hiesel, Gerhard (Freiburg) | Et al.
[German version] I. Introduction The Greek word νεκρόπολις/ nekrópolis, ‘city of the dead’, is attested in Antiquity only in Strabo (17,1,10,14) as the name of a suburb of Alexandria [1] (Necropolis). Modern scholarship transfers the term necropolis to cemeteries of various cultures and time periods. General definitions as to shape and size do not exist. In this article, necropolis refers only to sites of a certain size and usually lying outside the settlements themselves. The size of a necropolis, the …

Textiles, production of

(2,346 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin) | Pekridou-Gorecki, Anastasia (Frankfurt/Main)
[German version] I. The Ancient Orient and Egypt Weaving, which presumably developed from the plaiting of mats and baskets, is probably one of the oldest craft technologies. Owing to the climate, textiles do not survive in most of the countries of the Middle East; thus we have only a few, mostly carbonized, remains to show that different styles of weaving were already known, and various materials (Wool, Linen, flax) used, in the Neolithic Period. Great numbers of spindle whorls, mostly of fired clay, and frequently with scratched or painted decoration, and loom weights, while indicating active textile production in all prehistoric cultures of the Middle East, do not permit of any more detailed understanding. This situat…

Orthostats

(230 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin) | Höcker, Christoph (Kissing)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient and Egypt Ancient Near East and Egypt In Near Eastern archaeology, orthostats are standing stone slabs, which in the Anatolian region originally protected the base of walls from backsplash. From the 9th cent. onwards, especially in the Neo-Assyrian palaces, they were used as mounts for static and narrative reliefs. The narrative cycles in the palaces of the rulers Assurnaṣirpal II. in Kalḫu, Sennacherib and Assurbanipal in Nineveh (Ninos [2]) are famous. In the cont…

Temple

(5,554 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin) | Seidlmayer, Stephan Johannes (Berlin) | Hollender, Elisabeth (Cologne) | Niemeyer, Hans Georg (Hamburg) | Höcker, Christoph (Kissing) | Et al.
[German version] I. Mesopotamia The Sumerian term é and the Akkadian term bītu, meaning 'temple' or 'house (of the deity)', were not restricted to 'dwellings' of deities of a particular size or importance. They applied to sanctuaries from small neighbourhood shrines in residential areas to large, freestanding, tall buildings, from one-room cult sites to temple complexes with extensive auxiliary buildings, and they could be used for temples where one or many deities were worshipped. Prehistoric structures are often classified as temples only because apparently they nei…

Ur

(542 words)

Marsyas

(971 words)

Author(s): Visser, Edzard (Basle) | Badian, Ernst (Cambridge, MA) | Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin) | Ziegler, Konrat (Göttingen) | Sonnabend, Holger (Stuttgart)
(Μαρσύας; Marsýas). [German version] [1] Phrygian rivergod and Celaenae's god of protection Phrygian river god and Celaenae's god of protection, represented as satyr or silenus. The name is derived from a toponym that can be found repeatedly throughout Asia Minor and Syria; the river, at the source of which Celaenae lies, also carries this name (M. [5]). M. was considered the discoverer of flute playing ( aulós), the inventor of the bandage used for flute playing ( phorbeiá) and of songs for the worship of the goddess Cybele. According to the myth, the possibility to play music with the flute was discovered by Athena, but she dismisses her discovery when she realizes that it disfigures her face. M. takes over the flute and then, relying on his musical talents, challenges Apollo to a contest, which, however, he loses; he is hung on a tree and maltreated as a punishment for challenging the god.…

Tell

(122 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin)
[German version] (or tall; Arabic tall, plural tulūl; 'hill', then also 'settlement mound'). A common component of present-day names of ruin sites in the Near East. It indicates a widespread shape for earlier places of settlement in the Near East and Central Asia, which grew, some to a considerable height, by the accumulation of layers of settlement on top of each other. This was caused by the most widespread building material, unbaked mud bricks, which often disintegrated after a few decades. The resu…

Ichara

(122 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin)
[German version] (Ἰχάρα; Ichára, modern Failaka). Island in the Persian Gulf, on the east coast of Arabia. The island, mentioned in Ptolemy (6,7,47 N), is today generally regarded as a variant of  Icarus. While the identification fluctuated between Failaka, Kharg and Qaru for a long time, the equation of Icarus (and thus Ichara?) with Failaka has meanwhile been confirmed by inscriptions. According to Arrian (Anab. 7,20,2-3), the island received its name from Alexander, after an island in the Aegean…

Cattle

(2,971 words)

Author(s): Raepsaet, Georges (Brüssel) | Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin) | Jameson, Michael (Stanford)
[German version] I. General information Cattle ( Bos taurus) belong to the bovine family and are descended from the Eurasian big-horned aurochs ( Bos primigenius). Longhorn wild cattle were most likely domesticated in Central Asia between 10,000 to 8,000 BC and in the Near East around 7,000 to 6,000 BC. In the 3rd millennium BC various breeds of domesticated cattle spread throughout Europe. Herds of wild cattle still existed in the forested regions of the eastern Mediterranean, such as Dardania and Thrace (Varro, Rust. 2,1,5), as well as in Central Europe (Caes. B Gall. 6,28). In antiquit…

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…

Ptolemais

(1,304 words)

Author(s): Ameling, Walter (Jena) | Harmon, Roger (Basle) | Jansen-Winkeln, Karl (Berlin) | Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | Huß, Werner (Bamberg) | Et al.
(Πτολεμαίς; Ptolemaís). [German version] [1] Daughter of Ptolemaeus [1] I and Eurydice [4] Daughter of Ptolemaeus [1] I and Eurydice [4]; presumably married to a descendant of the pharaoh Nectanebus [2]; from 298 BC betrothed, and from 287 married to Demetrius [2] Poliorcetes. PP VI 14565. Ameling, Walter (Jena) Bibliography W. Huß, Das Haus des Nektanebis und das Haus des Ptolemaios, in: AncSoc 25, 1994, 111-117  J. Seibert, Historische Beiträge zu den dynastischen Verbindungen in hellenistischer Zeit, 1967, 30 ff. 74 f. [German version] [2] P. from Cyrene Ancient scholar of m…

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…
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