We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Experiencing Power, Generating Authority

Cosmos, Politics, and the Ideology of Kingship in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia

Edited by Jane A. Hill, Philip Jones, and Antonio J. Morales

Publication Year: 2013

For almost three thousand years, Egypt and Mesopotamia were each ruled by the single sacred office of kingship. Though geographically near, these ancient civilizations were culturally distinct, and scholars have historically contrasted their respective conceptualizations of the ultimate authority, imagining Egyptian kings as invested with cosmic power and Mesopotamian kings as primarily political leaders. In fact, both kingdoms depended on religious ideals and political resources to legitimate and exercise their authority. Cross-cultural comparison reveals the sophisticated and varied strategies that ancient kings used to unify and govern their growing kingdoms.

Experiencing Power, Generating Authority draws on rich material records left behind by both kingdoms, from royal monuments and icons to the written deeds and commissions of kings. Thirteen essays provocatively juxtapose the relationships Egyptian and Mesopotamian kings had with their gods and religious mediators, as well as their subjects and court officials. They also explore the ideological significance of landscape in each kingdom, since the natural and built environment influenced the economy, security, and cosmology of these lands. The interplay of religion, politics, and territory is dramatized by the everyday details of economy, trade, and governance, as well as the social crises of war or the death of a king. Reexamining established notions of cosmic and political rule, Experiencing Power, Generating Authority challenges and deepens scholarly approaches to rulership in the ancient world.

Contributors: Mehmet-Ali Ataç, Miroslav Bárta, Dominique Charpin, D. Bruce Dickson, Eckart Frahm, Alan B. Lloyd, Juan Carlos Moreno Garcia, Ludwig D. Morenz, Ellen Morris, Beate Pongratz-Leisten, Michael Roaf, Walther Sallaberger, JoAnn Scurlock.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

Series: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 2-5


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. v-vi

List of Figures

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. vii-x

List of Tables

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. xi-xii


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. xiii-xvi


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. xvii-xxi


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. xxii-xxvi

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. xxvii-xxviii

...the work contained in this volume is the result of a four-day workshop entitled ?Experiencing Power?Generating Authority: Cosmos and Politics in the Ideology of Kingship in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia? held in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and An-thropology November 2007. During the course of that week, fifteen schol-ars from the fields of Anthropology, Assyriology, and Egyptology shared ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. xxix-xxx

For more than a century, a core mission of the University of Pennsylva-nia Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology has been to foster re-search that leads to new understandings about human culture. For much of the 20th century, this research took the form of worldwide expeditions that brought back both raw data and artifacts whose analysis continues to shed light on early complex societies of the New and Old Worlds. The civiliza-...


read more

Comparing Kingship in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia: Cosmos, Politics and Landscape

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 3-30

If we refer to kingship as a political institution, we assume a point of view which would have been incomprehensible to the ancients . . . Whatever was significant was imbedded in the life of the cosmos, and it was precisely the king?s function to it is now more than sixty years since Henri Frankfort introduced his classic comparative study of rulership in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, King-ship and the Gods, with this basic distinction between the political and cosmic ...


read more

1 Propaganda and Performance at the Dawn of the State

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 33-64

...according to pharaonic ideology, the maintenance of cosmic, political, and natural order was unthinkable without the king, who served as the crucial lynchpin that held together not only Upper and Lower Egypt, but also the disparate worlds of gods and men. Because of his efforts, soci-ety functioned smoothly and the Nile floods brought forth abundance. This ideology, held as gospel for millennia, was concocted. The king had no su-...

read more

2 “I Am the Sun of Babylon”: Solar Aspects of Royal Power in Old Babylonian Mesopotamia

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 65-96

...in Mesopotamia, manifestations of light play a crucial role in the formula-tion of feelings. The face of one who is angry is ?dark?;2 in contrast, one who is satisfied ?radiates,? sometimes occurring with the additional com-plement ?as the sun.? And so a woman who receives good news from the brother she thought dead states: ?I rejoiced greatly so: ?Addiya is not dead, Addiya is living!? and I shined like the sun.?3 Another example can be found ...

read more

3 Rising Suns and Falling Stars: Assyrian Kings and the Cosmos

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 97-120

In Book VI of his City of God, St. Augustine discusses, and eventually dis-misses, an attempt by the famous Roman polymath Marcus Terentius Varro (116?27 BC) to classify various approaches to the divine (Dihle 1996). Drawing on concepts developed by the Stoic philosopher Panaetius, Varro distinguished between three dimensions of divinity: a cosmological dimen-sion (theologia naturalis), a mythological dimension (theologia fabularis), and a ...

read more

4 Texts before Writing: Reading (Proto-)Egyptian Poetics of Power

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 121-150

...the idea of reading is much older than writing. Mesolithic hunters read footprints of animals and Neolithic farmers interpreted the sky as well as various other phenomena such as the flight of birds to predict the future. A more specific sense of reading is preserved in various divinatory practices. For example, sacral specialists in various cultures predict the future by read-ing the stars and their movements. While we can date this concept to the ...

read more

5 Images of Tammuz: The Intersection of Death, Divinity, and Royal Authority in Ancient Mesopotamia

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 151-182

...?the king is dead, long live the king.? In ancient Mesopotamia as else-where, kings had a special relationship with death and with immor-tality. What follows will attempt to answer the following questions. How were royal dead different from ordinary dead? What powers did the gods confer on the king during his lifetime? What happened to royal power when kings died? What exactly did it mean to be a divine king? Did it matter ...


read more

6 Building the Pharaonic State: Territory, Elite and Power in Ancient Egypt in the 3rd Millennium BCE

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 185-218

...the aim of this chapter is to study some general trends dealing with the historical construction and transformation of the state administra-tion and its relationship to royal office in ancient Egypt during the 3rd mil-lennium BCE. Pharaonic Egypt has usually been considered an anomaly: nearly from the very beginning it emerges as an unified state encompassing a considerable territory by the standards of ancient polities, especially when ...

read more

7 The Management of the Royal Treasure: Palace Archives and Palatial Economy in the Ancient Near East

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 219-256

...the argument of this contribution starts with a methodological consid-eration of ?palace archives,? administrative archives found in palaces, which by their specific composition reflect the political, social, economic, and religious role of the ruler. Palace archives of the ancient Near East, such as those from Early Dynastic Ebla, Ur III Puzrish-Dagan, Old Babylonian Mari, Hittite Hattusa, and Neo-Assyrian Nimrud as well as many others, ...

read more

8 Egyptian Kingship during the Old Kingdom

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 257-284

...in my view, this brief statement relating to the inscription left behind by Timur over one of the gates of Samarkand is one of the most suitable metaphors that can be successfully applied to the Old Kingdom state, soci-ety, and royal landscape. It refers both to the city?s monuments themselves and to the way the city managed to manifest its superiority over the sur-Looking at Old Kingdom history through the prism of the 21st century ...

read more

9 All the King’s Men: Authority, Kingship and the Rise of the Elites in Assyria

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 285-310

...in an article published in 1986, Hayim Tadmor with great sagaciousness discussed the question of the accountability of the king to the elites in the heyday of the Assyrian Empire (8th and 7th centuries BCE). In his in-vestigation of the roles played by the nobility and the scholars, he moved beyond the figure of the king and addressed the crucial aspect of the or-ganization of power in the monarchical system of Assyria in the 1st mil-...

read more

10 Kingship as Racketeering: The Royal Tombs and Death Pits at Ur, Mesopotamia Reinterpreted from the Standpoint of Conflict Theory

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 311-328

Here the question arises; whether it is better to be loved than feared or feared than loved. The answer is that it would be desirable to be both but, since that is difficult, it is much safer to be feared than to be loved, if one must choose ? Men have less hesitation in offending a man who is loved than one who is feared, for love is held by a bond of obligation which, as men are wicked, is broken whenever personal advantage ...


read more

11 Mesopotamian Kings and the Built Environment

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 331-360

...in this chapter I explore certain aspects of the relationship between the rulers of Mesopotamia and the built environment. In particular I con-sider the intentions and effects of their building activities, by which the kings sought to alter their environment and the perception of this environ-ment. In this rather discursive paper I first consider some territorial aspects of Mesopotamian kingship and then consider the role that Mesopotamian ...

read more

12 Expeditions to the Wadi Hammamat: Context and Concept

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 361-382

...the Wadi Hammamat lies in the desert area between the Nile Valley and the Red Sea (Fig. 12.1). It provided a major source of high-quality stone throughout Pharaonic history (Fig. 12.2), as well as yielding significant de-posits of gold and providing a road facilitating Egyptian trade with the Red Sea area, above all the land of Punt (Eritrea, Somaliland, South Sudan). Expeditions reflecting these foci of interest took place throughout Egyp-...

read more

13 “Imaginal” Landscapes in Assyrian Imperial Monuments

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 383-426

La g?ographie ancienne ne restituait pas les donn?es d?une science positive, m?me si, ici ou l?, certains sites et paysages sont parfaitement r?els. C??tait une g?ographie imaginaire qui nous instruit de la mani?re dont la terre fut m?dit?e et per?ue, le fruit d?une pens?e ?sch?matico-cosmographique? selon le mot de B. Landsberger.that ideas of a timeless and philosophical nature could exist side by side with the contemporary and political in the art of the Neo-Assyr-...

Appendix 1: Chronologies for Ancient Egypt and the Near East

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 427-428

Appendix 2: Map of Major Egyptian Sites

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 429-430

Appendix 3: Map of Major Mesopotamian Sites

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 431-432


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 433-448

E-ISBN-13: 9781934536650
E-ISBN-10: 1934536652
Print-ISBN-13: 9781934536643
Print-ISBN-10: 1934536644

Page Count: 400
Illustrations: 47 illus.
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 867741998
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Experiencing Power, Generating Authority

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Egypt -- Kings and rulers.
  • Iraq -- Kings and rulers.
  • Kings and rulers -- Religious aspects.
  • Divine right of kings.
  • Political customs and rites.
  • Power (Social sciences).
  • Political anthropology.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access