Ancient Knowledge Networks is a book about how knowledge travels, in minds and bodies as well as in writings. It explores the forms knowledge takes and the meanings it accrues, and how these meanings are shaped by the peoples who use it.
Addressing the relationships between political power, family ties, religious commitments and literate scholarship in the ancient Middle East of the first millennium BC, Eleanor Robson focuses on two regions where cuneiform script was the predominant writing medium: Assyria in the north of modern-day Syria and Iraq, and Babylonia to the south of modern-day Baghdad. She investigates how networks of knowledge enabled cuneiform intellectual culture to endure and adapt over the course of five world empires until its eventual demise in the mid-first century BC. In doing so, she also studies Assyriological and historical method, both now and over the past two centuries, asking how the field has shaped and been shaped by the academic concerns and fashions of the day. Above all, Ancient Knowledge Networks is an experiment in writing about ‘Mesopotamian science’, as it has often been known, using geographical and social approaches to bring new insights into the intellectual history of the world’s first empires.
Eleanor Robson is Professor of Ancient Middle Eastern History at UCL.
The Oxford Postgraduate Conference in Assyriology (OPCA) 2016 will take place on April 15th-16th at Wolfson College, Oxford. It will be the fifth annual OPCA. A number of presentations relate to Iranian Studies.
The Babylonian Talmud remains the richest source of information regarding the material culture and lifestyle of the Babylonian Jewish community, with additional data now supplied by Babylonian incantation bowls. Although archaeology has yet to excavate any Jewish sites from Babylonia, information from Parthian and Sassanian Babylonia provides relevant background information, which differs substantially from archaeological finds from the Land of Israel. One of the key questions addresses the amount of traffic and general communications between Jewish Babylonia and Israel, considering the great distances and hardships of travel involved.
Markham J. Geller, Ph.D (1974), Brandeis University, is Professor of Semitic Languages and Director of the Institute of Jewish Studies at University College London, currently on secondment to the Freie University Berlin as Professor für Wissensgeschichte. He is Principal Investigator of BabMed, an Advanced ERC Project.
Table of contents
-Introduction: The Archaeology and Material Culture of the -Babylonian Talmud, Markum. J. Geller
-Land behind Ctesiphon: the Archaeology of Babylonia during the Period of the Babylonian Talmud, St John Simpson
-‘Recycling economies, when efficient, are by their nature invisible.’ A First Century Jewish Recycling Economy, Matthew Ponting and Dan Levene
-The Cedar in Jewish Antiquity, Michael Stone
-Since when do Women go to Miqveh? Archaeological and Rabbinic Evidence, Tal Ilan
-Rabbis in Incantation Bowls, Shaul Shaked
-Divorcing a Demon: Incantation Bowls and BT Giṭṭin 85b, Siam Bhayro
-Lilith’s Hair and Ashmedai’s Horns: Incantation Bowl Imagery in the -Light of Talmudic Descriptions, Naama Vilozny
-The Material World of Babylonia as seen from Roman Palestine: -Some Preliminary Observations, Yaron Eliav
-Travel Between Palestine and Mesopotamia during the Hellenistic and Roman Periods: A Preliminary Study, Getzel Cohen (z’’l)
-Shopping in Ctesiphon: A Lesson in Sasanian Commercial Practice, Yaakov Elman
-Substance and Fruit in the Sasanian Law of Property and the Babylonian Talmud, Maria Macuch
-Rabbinic, Christian, and Local Calendars in Late Antique Babylonia: -Influence and Shared Culture, Sacha Stern
-‘Manasseh sawed Isaiah with a Saw of Wood:’ an Ancient Legend in -Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Persian Sources, Richard Kalmin
-Biblical ‘Archaeology’ and Babylonian Rabbis: On the Self-Image of Jews in Sasanian Babylonia, Isaiah Gafni
-Loanwords in Jewish Babylonian Aramaic: Some Preliminary Observations, Theodore Kwasman
-The Gymnasium at Babylon and Jerusalem, Markham J. Geller and D. T. Potts