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Loan

(1,744 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin) | Schmitz, Winfried (Bielefeld)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient As a contractual service, in which the recipient of money or other negotiable items undertakes to return them and/or provide a service in recompence, lending is attested in Mesopotamia [4. 189-203] from the middle of the 3rd millennium BC [1. 141-145] into the Hellenistic period [2. 43-45; 3. 119]. As well as private individuals, (representatives of) institutions (temple, palace) are recorded as creditors. The loans involved comprised for the most part silver and ba…

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…

Atraḫasis

(230 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin)
[German version] (‘the extremely wise one’). Protagonist of an Akkadian mythic poem from the ancient Babylonian era (early 2nd millennium BC), of which there were two or three diverging versions. The myth was carried forward in Babylonia and Assyria until the first millennium BC. A newer version arose in the New Assyrian era (7th cent. BC). Texts from  Ugarit and  Hattuša attest to the spread of the myth in the 2nd millennium BC, even beyond Mesopotamia. It treats the creation of human beings from…

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…

Professional associations

(1,103 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin) | Burford-Cooper, Alison (Ann Arbor)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient Certainly there is evidence of the emergence and activity of joint representatives of specific branches of the professions in the Ancient Orient, such as merchants, craftsmen and priests, but there is no proof of PA in the sense of voluntary federations for the protection and defence of political and economic interests [1. 79-82; 2. 161f.]. Neumann, Hans (Berlin) Bibliography 1 A.L. Oppenheim, Ancient Mesopotamia, 1964 2 H.M. Kümmel, Familie, Beruf und Amt im spätbabylonischen Uruk, 1979. [German version] II. Greece and Rome Three different …

Letter

(2,221 words)

Author(s): Schmidt, Peter L. (Constance) | Neumann, Hans (Berlin)
[German version] A. Types of letter In addition to the few texts on letter theory and letter writers ( Epistolography), the ancient genre of ‘letters’ comprises the following: 1. official letters (edicts) comparable to laws, 2. everyday official correspondence, 3. ‘open’ letters akin to oratory a) with one or several senders and multiple addressees (e.g. letters to the Christian community) or b) letters sent to a specific addressee that had a potentially broad public, and finally 4. letters of a priva…

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…

Purchase

(1,351 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen) | Neumann, Hans (Berlin)
[German version] I. Introduction After the supersession of the concept that the ideal economic form was an autarkic entity of production and consumption not depending upon trade (e.g. the Homeric oîkos), and after the invention of means of payment - whether in the form of unstamped precious metals or coins - purchase, i.e. the exchange of goods for money, was a self-evident element of ancient societies. In spite of its presumably general distribution, however, purchase was underdeveloped in terms of legal provision. Laws and…

Justice at the gate

(129 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin)
[German version] In Mesopotamia, from the 3rd millennium BC, the gates of temples, cities and other locations (e.g. palaces) could serve as venues for jurisdiction [1. 140 f.; 2. 66 with n. 6; 3. 321-325]. The same was true in Egypt [4. 782]. This was associated with the role of gates as foci of public and economic life in cities, and in the case of temple doors it was also linked to the temple's function as a venue for the taking of oaths of testimony and purification. Door Neumann, Hans (Berlin) Bibliography 1 A. Falkenstein (ed.), Die Inschriften Gudeas von Lagaš, vol. 1: Intro…

Akkad

(105 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin)
[German version] (Agade). There is documentary evidence of this city in northern Babylon that dates up to the second half of the 1st millennium BC, however, no archaeological evidence of its existence has been found. It achieved particular significance as the king's residence and capital city of the Akkadian kingdom, the first large territorial state in  Mesopotamia.  Akkadian Neumann, Hans (Berlin) Bibliography B. R. Foster, Select Bibliography of the Sargonic Period, in: History of the Ancient Near East. Stud. 5, 1993, 171-182 Répertoire géographique des textes cunéiforme…

Leasehold

(919 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin) | Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] I. Mesopotamia, Egypt Leasehold in the sense of the limited taking over of the use of land used for agricultural or gardening purposes against payment of a rent, was attested in Mesopotamia from the middle of the 3rd millennium BC. Both institutional households ( Palace; Temple) as well as private individuals could function as lessors. The rent was set either at an absolute value in kind or silver, or as a part of the harvest. The one third leasehold, which meant that the lessor received 1/3 of the harvest and the leaseholder received 2/3, was typical above all for the ea…

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.…
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