Essays that explore the rich engagement of the Talmud with its cultural world
The Babylonian Talmud (Bavli), the great compilation of Jewish law edited in the late Sasanian era (sixth–seventh century CE), also incorporates a great deal of aggada, that is, nonlegal material, including interpretations of the Bible, stories, folk sayings, and prayers. The Talmud’s aggadic traditions often echo conversations with the surrounding cultures of the Persians, Eastern Christians, Manichaeans, Mandaeans, and the ancient Babylonians, and others. The essays in this volume analyze Bavli aggada to reveal this rich engagement of the Talmud with its cultural world.
A detailed analysis of the different conceptions of martyrdom in the Talmud as opposed to the Eastern Christian martyr accounts
Illustration of the complex ways rabbinic Judaism absorbed Christian and Zoroastrian theological ideas
Demonstration of the presence of Persian-Zoroastrian royal and mythological motifs in talmudic sources
The alluvial lowlands of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in southern Mesopotamia are widely known as the “cradle of civilization,” owing to the scale of the processes of urbanization that took place in the area by the second half of the fourth millennium BCE.
In Ancient Mesopotamia at the Dawn of Civilization, Guillermo Algaze draws on the work of modern economic geographers to explore how the unique river-based ecology and geography of the Tigris-Euphrates alluvium affected the development of urban civilization in southern Mesopotamia. He argues that these natural conditions granted southern polities significant competitive advantages over their landlocked rivals elsewhere in Southwest Asia, most importantly the ability to easily transport commodities. In due course, this resulted in increased trade and economic activity and higher population densities in the south than were possible elsewhere. As southern polities grew in scale and complexity throughout the fourth millennium, revolutionary new forms of labor organization and record keeping were created, and it is these socially created innovations, Algaze argues, that ultimately account for why fully developed city-states emerged earlier in southern Mesopotamia than elsewhere in Southwest Asia or the world.
The most up-to-date sourcebook on warfare in the ancient Near East
Fighting for the King and the Gods provides an introduction to the topic of war and the variety of texts concerning many aspects of warfare in the ancient Near East. These texts illustrate various viewpoints of war and show how warfare was an integral part of life. Trimm examines not only the victors and the famous battles, but also the hardship that war brought to many. While several of these texts treated here are well known (i.e., Ramses II's battle against the Hittites at Qadesh), others are known only to specialists. This work will allow a broader audience to access and appreciate these important texts as they relate to the history and ideology of warfare.
References to recent secondary literature for further study
Early Greek and Chinese illustrative texts for comparisons with other cultures
The recent reopening of Iraq’s National Museum attracted worldwide attention, underscoring the country’s dual image as both the cradle of civilization and a contemporary geopolitical battleground. A sweeping account of the rich history that has played out between these chronological poles, From Mesopotamia to Iraq looks back through 10,000 years of the region’s deeply significant yet increasingly overshadowed past.
Hans J. Nissen and Peter Heine begin by explaining how ancient Mesopotamian inventions—including urban society, a system of writing, and mathematical texts that anticipated Pythagoras—profoundly influenced the course of human history. These towering innovations, they go on to reveal, have sometimes obscured the major role Mesopotamia continued to play on the world stage. Alexander the Great, for example, was fascinated by Babylon and eventually died there. Seventh-century Muslim armies made the region one of their first conquests outside the Arabian peninsula. And the Arab caliphs who ruled for centuries after the invasion built the magnificent city of Baghdad, attracting legions of artists and scientists. Tracing the evolution of this vibrant country into a contested part of the Ottoman Empire, a twentieth-century British colony, a republic ruled by Saddam Hussein, and the democracy it has become, Nissen and Heine repair the fragmented image of Iraq that has come to dominate our collective imagination.
In hardly any other continuously inhabited part of the globe can we chart such developments in politics, economy, and culture across so extended a period of time. By doing just that, the authors illuminate nothing less than the forces that have made the world what it is today.
How did the invention of writing in the ancient world change our way of thinking, recording, and remembering forever? In this wide-ranging study, Charpin discusses the place of literacy in the early civilization of Babylonia in the time between 2500 and 500 BC. Writing at this time was used for domestic record keeping, tracking inventory and sales, for inscriptions and tombs, and for communicating with gods. He argues for a much wider spread of literacy than previously thought and explains the historical and social contexts within which literacy proliferated in early Babylon.
Most archaeologists and historians of the ancient Near East have focused on the internal transformations that led to the emergence of early cities and states. In The Uruk World System, Guillermo Algaze concentrates on the unprecedented and wide-ranging process of external expansion that coincided with the rapid initial crystallization of Mesopotamian civilization. In this extensive study, he contends that the rise of early Sumerian polities cannot be understood without also taking into account the developments in surrounding peripheral areas. This new edition includes a substantial new chapter that explores recent data and interpretations of the expansion of Uruk settlements across Syro-Mesopotamia.