Margins of Writing, Origins of Cultures: New Approaches to Writing and Reading in the Ancient Near East. Papers from a Symposium held February 25-26, 2005 [Paperback]

Seth Sanders (Author); Sarite Sanders (Editor)

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ISBN: 9781885923394 | Published by: Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago | Year of Publication: 2006 | Language: English 370p,
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Margins of Writing, Origins of Cultures

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Writing and the state both first began in the ancient Near East. The
origins of history are traced to the place where they met. But what
did they actually have to do with each other? Most of ancient Near
Eastern philology consists of careful examination of the leavings of
the state scribes; it has revealed a treasure-house of ancient
culture, from haunting poetry to onion archives. But there is a
crucial blind spot in our perspective on the largest and oldest
archive of the ancient world: the relationship between the vast body
of official writing and the actual life of language as spoken,
understood, and imagined by ancient Near Eastern people. The vital
relationships between language and ethnicity, the connections between
languages of empire and local identity, and way languages are born,
live and die in writing has remained the subject of more speculation
than rigorous research. If recorded history began in the ancient Near
East, we are just beginning to explore the powerful creative
relationship between writing and the political identities of the Near East's cultures. Collectively, the articles here provide
well-documented challenges to conventional wisdom about that for
which people actually used Sumerian, Egyptian, Hittite, and Hebrew.
This conference was the first to bring leading philologists together with anthropologists and social theorists to explore what writing meant to politics in the ancient Near East.

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION 1. "Margins of Writing, Origins of Cultures." Seth Sanders, University of Chicago FIRST PANEL: INSTITUTIONS 2. "Writing and the State: China, India, and General Definitions." John Kelly, University of Chicago 3. "Writing in Another Tongue: Alloglottography in the Ancient Near East." Gonzalo Rubio, Pennsylvania State University 4. "Abundance in the Margins: Multiplicity of Script in the Demotic Magical Papyri." Jacco Dieleman, University of California Los Angeles 5. "Response for First Session." Jerrold Cooper, Johns Hopkins University SECOND PANEL: PUBLICS 6. "Bilingualism, Scribal Learning, and the Death of Sumerian." Christopher Woods, University of Chicago 7. "Multilingual Inscriptions and Their Audiences: Cilicia and Lydia." Annick Payne, University of Würzburg 8. "Aramaic, the Death of Written Hebrew, and Language Shift in the Persian Period." William Schniedewind, University of California, Los Angeles 9. "Response for Second Session: Writing at the Chronotopic Margins of Empires." Michael Silverstein, University of Chicago SUPPLEMENT 10. "The Lives of the Sumerian Language." Piotr Michalowski, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor THIRD PANEL: COSMOPOLITAN AND VERNACULAR 11. "Official and Vernacular Languages: The Shifting Sands of Imperial and Cultural Identities in First Millennium B.C. Mesopotamia." Paul-Alain Beaulieu, Harvard University 12. "Institutions, Vernaculars, Publics: The Case of Second Millennium Anatolia." Theo Van den Hout, University of Chicago 13. "Writing, Writers, and Reading in the Kingdom of Van." Paul Zimansky, Boston University 14. "Response for Third Session: Power and Culture Beyond Ideology and Identity." Sheldon Pollock, University of Chicago FINAL ROUNDTABLE 15. "Final Response." Peter Machinist, Harvard University

Reviews & Quotes

"This extremely welcome volume explores a variety of relationships among language, writing and society in the ancient Near East."
Gocha R. Tsetskhladze
Ancient West & East (2007)

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