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The Heritage of Mesopotamia and the Ancient Near East

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Living under Empires: A View from Below

Twelfth Workshop of the Melammu Project
1-3 December 2020

Organisers: Caroline Wallis, Marta Lorenzon and Sebastian Fink

The meeting is sponsored by the Centre of Excellence in Ancient Near Eastern Empires

The following documents are available:

- call for papers

- program and registration link

Go to the official webpage of the workshop
Workshop Program

All the successive Empires of the First Millennium BCE, in one form or another, claim to guarantee the collective well-being of the people living on their territory. Furthermore, providing this welfare to human beings is the main clause of the Kings contract with the gods, and hence, is the corner stone of the legitimation of their authority as rulers. What are we missing if we dismiss these claims as solely rhetorical and directed to an elite audience? Can we consider them as principles that guided concrete policies towards the population, as principles that were binding to the political elite itself?
In this workshop we aim to take the view from below, and investigate in what way imperial dynamics may have affected the lifeways of people in their territories. The basic questions of this workshop are: How did the empires of the Ancient Near East affect the life of ordinary people in their realm? To which extent was rural life and life in smaller towns permeated by imperial agents and policies, hence by imperial dynamics?
The investigation of textual and archaeological evidence can provide us with glimpses into everyday life. The publication of several relevant text corpora from the 1st millennium has provided us with much new data concerning economic life in this period. New methods for the analysis of archaeological evidence provide us with detailed information concerning the nutrition and the health of ancient people. The workshop aims at combining textual and archaeological evidence with social theory to develop a clearer picture of living-circumstances and hope to “track the macro in the micro”.