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Banks

(2,042 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin) | Schmitz, Winfried (Bielefeld) | Andreau, Jean (Paris)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient Banks as institutions whose specific task consists of arranging payment transactions, accepting deposits and granting credits, did not exist in the Ancient Orient. There is evidence of deposit and credit operations in ancient oriental societies of differing quantity and intensity, both in the domain of palace and temple economy and in individual private legal and economic transactions, but they were always subordinate to the respectively dominating redistributive an…

Surety

(967 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin) | Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen) | Meissel, Franz-Stefan (Vienna)
[German version] A. Ancient Near East There is evidence of personal (corporal) liability through surety (especially standing surety for another, rarely for oneself) as a means of guaranteeing a contract in Mesopotamian cuneiform texts from the mid-3rd millennium BC [2. 253] into the Hellenistic period [3. 64-69], using different terminologies and in different forms. The Gestellungsbürgschaft ('surety of appearance') was common (promise of the guarantor to deliver the debtor to the creditor for enforcement). In the late Babylonian (6th-4th cents. BC) Stillesitzbürgschaft ('s…

Beer

(444 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin) | Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient In the ancient Orient, beer was a well-known and popular drink that had been brewed in Mesopotamia and Egypt since the end of the 4th millennium BC at the latest. The basic ingredient in manufacture was above all barley malt [1. 322-329], other ingredients were emmer and sesame. In the 1st millennium BC a type of date beer became important in Babylon [2.155-183]. In Egypt texts from the older period mention not just date beer but also carob tree beer and poppy beer.…

Death penalty

(661 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin) | Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient The death penalty as a sanction for capital offences is attested in the ancient Near East from the latter part of the 3rd millennium BC as a penalty in varying frequency in the respective statute books and (less often) as a sentence in  documents of  procedural law. Capital offences were, in particular, homicide/killing ( Killing, crimes involving),  robbery, abduction, adultery, various cases of sodomy and incest and other statutory definitions of offences, princip…

Dowry

(435 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient and Egypt The dowry in old Mesopotamia was given with the bride generally by her father (more rarely also by the mother or other family members) into the marriage, that (together with the means of the husband) served to secure the economic position of the wife if the man died first or in the event of a divorce. As a widow or a divorced (by the man) wife, she was entitled to the dowry, which in the event of her death went to her children, if childless went back to the …

Slavery

(5,179 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin) | Müller-Wollermann, Renate | Gehrke, Hans-Joachim (Freiburg) | Heinrichs, Johannes (Bonn) | Prinzing, Günther | Et al.
[German version] I. Ancient Near East Mesopotamian cuneiform texts attest to slavery in the ancient Near East from the early 3rd millennium BC [1]. However, at no time were slaves the essential producers in the structure of the total economy [2]. From the 3rd-1st millennia BC, slaves were primarily deployed in private households, and to a lesser extent in institutional households (Palace, Temple). The main sources thus mostly come from the field of private law and governmental legislation [3]. Some of…

Naramsin

(450 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin)
[German version] (Narām-Sîn). Fourth king (2260-2223 BC) of the dynasty of Akkad in Mesopotamia, grandson of the founder of the dynasty, Sargon. Under N. the state of Akkad flourished once again. He is recorded on numerous campaigns that served to increase his power, both through the pillaging of foreign regions and the territorial expansion of the state, the latter primarily pertaining to the upper Mesopotamian region from northern Syria to the eastern Tigris region. In addition N. deployed inten…

Wages

(1,443 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin) | Andreau, Jean (Paris) | Kuchenbuch, Ludolf (Hagen)
[German version] I. Ancient Near East There is evidence of wages as recompense for work done by labourers hired for limited periods in Mesopotamia from the mid 3rd millennium BC to the late Babylonian period (2nd half of 1st millennium BC), in Hittite Anatolia (2nd half of 2nd millennium BC) and in Egypt (from the Old Kingdom on). In Mesopotamia, the institutional households (Palace; Temple) of the Ur III period in particular (21st cent. BC) supplemented their own labour force (which received rations …

Homicide

(422 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin) | Thür, Gerhard (Graz) | Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] I. General In antiquity homicide is often not yet differentiated from other crimes of killing ( Killing, crimes of). In many ancient laws the special reprehensibility or danger of a behaviour that resulted in the death of another human being was not yet considered a reason for a respective sanction. Thus, in the case of ancient Oriental laws, it would be inappropriate both with regard to the term and the matter to speak of particular offences amounting to homicide within the framework of crimes of killing. Neumann, Hans (Berlin) [German version] II. Greece In archaic Gre…

Killing, crimes involving

(407 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin) | Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient In judging crimes involving killing, no distinction was made in the ancient Middle East between homicide and manslaughter. Killing, inciting a killing, and having knowledge of a killing were all treated as capital offences and punishable with capital punishment ( Death penalty). In addition, the perpetrator's property and (enslaved) family members could, along with other forms of compensation, be handed over to the victim's family. As the collections of laws show, …

Epic

(6,829 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin) | Latacz, Joachim (Basle) | Courtney, Edward (Charlottesville, VA)
[German version] I. Ancient Near East The convention in ancient oriental studies is to maintain a distinction between epic and myth in so far as the protagonists of each genre are concerned, even though, in respect of genre theory and style, this remains difficult and contentious [1. 145-153; 2. 1-24]: in epic the actors are (heroicized) people, whereas myths inhabit the realm of the divine. Sumerian epic literature is woven around the legendary kings of the 1st dynasty of Uruk: Enmerkar, Lugalbanda a…

Nippur

(747 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin)
[German version] This item can be found on the following maps: Mesopotamia (Sumerian Nibru; Akkadian Nippur[ u]; Arabic Nuffar). City in Babylonia c. 140 km to the southeast of modern Baghdad, for which habitation in varying intensity can be demonstrated from the 6th millennium BC until about AD 800, to some extent even into the 14th cent. AD. During the first half of the 3rd millennium BC, without ever having played a power-political dynastic role, N. - and its city god Enlil - experienced elevated significance in the course of a development which re…

Renting and hiring

(1,070 words)

Author(s): Forgó, Nikolaus (Vienna) | Neumann, Hans (Berlin)
[German version] I. General Renting and hiring today are contracts concerning transfer of the use of a property or an object in return for payment and hence an enduring relationship of continuing obligation. The objects of the contract can be physical, non-consumable objects as well as rights. Such contracts are equally suited to the transfer for payment of movable and unmovable objects. Forgó, Nikolaus (Vienna) [German version] II. Ancient Orient and Egypt There is evidence of hiring, i.e. temporary use of persons and of movable objects (primarily ship and animal h…

Aks̆ak

(69 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin)
[German version] Main location of a northern Babylonian city state which ruled northern Babylonia around the middle of the 3rd millennium BC. Located opposite  Seleucia on the Tigris. More recent sources identify it with Upī (Greek:  Opis) [1. 111, n. 608; 2. 46-48], but this identification is debated. Neumann, Hans (Berlin) Bibliography 1 J. A. Brinkman, A Political History of Post-Kassite Babylonia. 1158-722 B.C, 1968 2 D. R. Frayne, The Early Dynastic List of Geographical Names, 1992.

Sargon

(888 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin)
[German version] [1] of Akkad (Akkadian Šarru[ m]- kīn, 'the ruler is legitimate'). Founder (2340-2284 BC) of the so-called dynasty of Akkad in Mesopotamia. According to later Sumerian and Akkadian literary and historiographical tradition, S. was said to have been the son of a certain Lāipum and a priestess [1. 69; 2. 36-49] and to have begun his career as a cupbearer under King Ur-Zababa of Kiš [1; 2. 51-55]. S. established his own (to date unidentified) residence, Akkad, and created by his conquests …

Punishment, Criminal law

(1,758 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin) | Römer, Malte (Berlin) | Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] I. Ancient Near East The Sumerian-Akkadian terminology regarding punishment and criminal law implies that in Mesopotamia, this was already understood to be a consequence of mischief [1. 77 with note 35], directed either against the divine order [2] or the (state-sanctioned) political and social structures [3]. The same is true of Egypt [4. 68]. There was no distinction between civil and criminal law in the modern sense. The relationship between private law and so-called public law (an…

Oath

(846 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin) | Thür, Gerhard (Graz)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient Since the second half of the 3rd millennium BC [1. 63-98; 2. 345-365], a distinction was made in Mesopotamia between promissory (assuring) oaths in contract law and assertory (confirming) oaths taking effect in lawsuits. A promissory oath served as an absolute assurance of a renunciation or intended action and was performed by invoking the king or a god, or both. An assertory oath had probative force as an oath for witnesses or parties, e.g. an oath of purification …

Bilingual inscriptions

(1,899 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | Neumann, Hans (Berlin)
[German version] A. Definition Bilingual inscriptions (or ‘bilingues’) are inscriptions that present the same text in two languages so as to be comprehensible to different readerships. Thus, bilingual inscriptions (BI), with closely corresponding texts, are distinguished from others in which one of the texts only summarizes the other. -- ‘Quasi-BI’ do indeed differ in their text format but treat the same subject matter or the same personalities. BI are only such texts as are composed contemporaneou…

Work

(2,798 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin) | von Reden, Sitta (Bristol)
[German version] [1] The Ancient Near East Work in the Ancient Near East was normally identified with physical labour in the agricultural and craft sectors, as well as in construction and haulage. Free labour was the province of self-employed producers and wage workers in institutional households (palace and temple). In the latter contexts, unfree labour was performed by dependents of many kinds, and also existed in the form of a state-decreed obligation of service. Slave labour was present to a varyin…

State

(1,994 words)

Author(s): Eder, Walter (Berlin) | Neumann, Hans (Berlin) | Müller-Wollermann, Renate
[German version] I. General Neither the states of the ancient Near East nor those of classical antiquity had a word corresponding to the modern, impersonal concept of the state. There was no abstract idea of state separate from the ruler or distinguished by law. In particular, the state did not appear as a perpetrator of action. The use of the term 'state' for these pre-modern societies is none the less justified, because, on the one hand, they did fulfil the minimum formal criteria: permanent state…
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