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Origin myths and theories on the origin of culture

(2,363 words)

Author(s): Sallaberger, Walther (Leipzig) | Felber, Heinz (Leipzig) | Heckel, Hartwig (Bochum)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient and Egypt The relatively few ancient Oriental testimonials that can be regarded as OM provide important pointers to the self-image of a culture, but have not yet been discussed from this perspective. Aetiologies primarily with respect to festivals and cult centres are to be found in the Egyptian tradition [7], more rarely in the Mesopotamian [4. 551f., 559f.] and the Hittite tradition [4. 571]; in the OT, they are particularly common in Genesis (e.g. Gn 28: Bethel). Gods were sometimes considered the founders of those areas of culture that…

Fishing, Fishing trade

(1,052 words)

Author(s): Sallaberger, Walther (Leipzig) | Felber, Heinz (Leipzig) | Kuhn, Christina (Kassel)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient Especially in the south of Mesopotamia with its river courses, canals and swamps, fish greatly supplemented the diet; in addition there was fish breeding in ponds for fresh fish. Fishing was mainly done with fish traps and nets and more rarely with spears. The catch was measured by numbers of fish or by volume, but hardly ever according to weight. Preserved fish too (dried, smoked, salted) served as food, and was also suitable for trade with the mountainous countrie…

Inscriptions

(4,367 words)

Author(s): Sallaberger, Walther (Leipzig) | Felber, Heinz (Leipzig) | Hallof, Klaus (Berlin) | Galsterer, Hartmut (Bonn)
I. Ancient Orient [German version] A. General In the more restricted sense, inscriptions are texts - usually of monumental character - that, because of their function, are intended to last, as well as texts that are written on other-than-usual writing materials, e.g. clay tablets,  papyrus,  ostraka, etc. Inscriptions are closely tied to other texts by commonalities of writing, form and content. Therefore, despite specific research efforts, ancient oriental epigraphy has not developed as an independent…

Purification

(1,558 words)

Author(s): Heinze, Theodor (Geneva) | Sallaberger, Walther (Leipzig) | Felber, Heinz (Leipzig)
[German version] A. Introduction The cleansing of defilement or impurity (Greek kátharsis, katharmós) can be understood as a strategy for overcoming calamity [5. 149-155]. Purification in this sense was introduced to Greek civilization through contact with the Ancient Orient [6. 55-64]. Heinze, Theodor (Geneva) B. Religious [German version] 1. Ancient Orient and Egypt Although the ancient oriental civilizations had certain widespread features in common, there were differences in which forms of impurity were regarded as particularly significant and how they were removed. In …

Festivals; Feasts

(4,658 words)

Author(s): Sallaberger, Walther (Leipzig) | Felber, Heinz (Leipzig) | Auffarth, Christoph (Tübingen)
[German version] I. The Ancient Orient The ancient Mesopotamian calendar was based on the phases of the lunar cycle and was observed in the cult on a monthly basis (1st, 7th, 15th day). Annual feasts were frequently associated with the agrarian cycle (sowing, harvest), whereby regional differences must be drawn into consideration (e.g., irrigation vs. rainfed agriculture). Non-cyclical feasts were generally related to the ruler (crowning, temple and palace construction, war, death). In the family sphe…

Weights

(2,896 words)

Author(s): Sallaberger, Walther (Leipzig) | Felber, Heinz (Leipzig) | Hitzl, Konrad (Tübingen)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient In Mesopotamia and its neighbouring regions, weights were made of stone (primarily haematite [Haematite], or else limestone and others) or metal (bronze, copper), often in the form of a barleycorn or a loaf, or figuratively as a duck (3rd to 1st millennia), and in Assyria from the 1st millennium also as a lion. Weights could be inscribed with a numerical value with or without indicating the unit, as well as with an inscription of a ruler, an institution, or an offic…

Square measures

(917 words)

Author(s): Sallaberger, Walther (Leipzig) | Felber, Heinz (Leipzig) | Chantraine, Heinrich (Mannheim)
[German version] I. Ancient Near East Various concepts of square measures (SM) are found (even simultaneously) in Mesopotamia. The oldest, attested from the late 4th millennium BC, was based on the length measurements of squares or rectangles, and was thus suited to the needs of surveying fields: 1 rod × 1 rod (with 1 rod = 6 m) = 1 rod square ('bed') (36 m2). The fundamental unit for fields was 1 'field' or 'dyke' (0.36 ha). In the 1st millennium, the Babylonian system (for smaller areas) was based on a rectangle with one  fixed side of 1 'reed' (= 7 cubits) and a…

Measure of volume

(1,573 words)

Author(s): Sallaberger, Walther (Leipzig) | Felber, Heinz (Leipzig) | Schulzki, Heinz-Joachim (Mannheim)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient Measures of volume were used to measure liquids and especially grain and other bulk solids (dates, etc.). Therefore, they were employed in the administration of grain, including the issuing of rations. According to cuneiform sources, ordinary measuring vessels (especially the sea) were made of wood. Special measures for liquids can only be identified locally with a standard ‘vessel’ usually containing 20 or 30 litres. Despite all temporal and local differences, a relatively constant absolute size of the small unit (Sumerian sìla, Akkadian = c.…

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…

World, creation of the

(4,741 words)

Author(s): Merkt, Andreas (Mainz) | Sallaberger, Walther (Leipzig) | Felber, Heinz (Leipzig) | Heimgartner, Martin (Halle) | Hollender, Elisabeth (Cologne) | Et al.
[German version] I. Definition The term 'creation of the world' ('CW') (κτίσις/ ktísis, Lat. creatio) in the narrower sense should be distinguished from two similar concepts. Unlike 'cosmogony', 'CW' refers to a personal act. Secondly, unlike 'fashioning of the world' in the sense of the craft of a demiourgos [3] (cf. [1]), 'CW' does not mean the mere modelling of existing material in analogy to the creative intervention of an artist, but the absolute bringing-into-being of everything (the universe, i.e. 'the whole', τὰ πάντα/ tà pánta) out of the void. The concept of a creation…

Banquet

(3,705 words)

Author(s): Sallaberger, Walther (Leipzig) | Felber, Heinz (Leipzig) | Schmitt-Pantel, Pauline (Paris) | Binder, Gerhard (Bochum)
[German version] I. Egypt and the ancient Orient The central Egyptian sources of information regarding banquets are the depictions of the funerary banquet in the tombs of Theban officials dating from the 18th dynasty (15th -14th cents. BC). The early pictures show the tomb's occupant with his spouse as the host in front of a table loaded with dishes of food and faced by their guests in several rows. Servants adorn them with flowers and bring wine and food, pleasant-smelling ointments and utensils for ha…