Experiencing Power, Generating Authority
Cosmos, Politics, and the Ideology of Kingship in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia
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
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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List of Figures
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List of Tables
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...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 ...
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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-...
Comparing Kingship in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia: Cosmos, Politics and Landscape
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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 ...
1 Propaganda and Performance at the Dawn of the State
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...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-...
2 “I Am the Sun of Babylon”: Solar Aspects of Royal Power in Old Babylonian Mesopotamia
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...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 ...
3 Rising Suns and Falling Stars: Assyrian Kings and the Cosmos
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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 ...
4 Texts before Writing: Reading (Proto-)Egyptian Poetics of Power
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...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 ...
5 Images of Tammuz: The Intersection of Death, Divinity, and Royal Authority in Ancient Mesopotamia
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...?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 ...
6 Building the Pharaonic State: Territory, Elite and Power in Ancient Egypt in the 3rd Millennium BCE
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...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 ...
7 The Management of the Royal Treasure: Palace Archives and Palatial Economy in the Ancient Near East
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...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, ...
8 Egyptian Kingship during the Old Kingdom
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...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 ...
9 All the King’s Men: Authority, Kingship and the Rise of the Elites in Assyria
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...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-...
10 Kingship as Racketeering: The Royal Tombs and Death Pits at Ur, Mesopotamia Reinterpreted from the Standpoint of Conflict Theory
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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 ...
11 Mesopotamian Kings and the Built Environment
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...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 ...
12 Expeditions to the Wadi Hammamat: Context and Concept
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...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-...
13 “Imaginal” Landscapes in Assyrian Imperial Monuments
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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
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Appendix 2: Map of Major Egyptian Sites
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Appendix 3: Map of Major Mesopotamian Sites
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Page Count: 400
Illustrations: 47 illus.
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology