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TESTING THE MIDDLE GROUND IN ASSYRO-ANATOLIAN MARRIAGES OF THE KĀRUM PERIOD 1

  • Yağmur Heffron
Abstract

Central Anatolia in the Middle Bronze Age is marked by a well-documented Old Assyrian presence during the kārum period (20th–17th century b.c.), a dynamic time of long-distance trade and cultural contact. One of the idiosyncrasies of the social history of this period is a special bigamous arrangement which allowed Assyrian men to enter second marriages on the condition that one wife remained at home in Aššur, and the other in Anatolia. In testing the extent to which a middle ground for cross-cultural compromise is recognisable in such Assyro-Anatolian marriage practices, this article considers whether the terminology used in reference to the first and second wives (amtum and aššatum respectively) can be interpreted as the crucial element of misunderstanding in middle ground formation.

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Corresponding author
Yağmur Heffron, Department of History, University College London, London WC1E 6BT y.heffron@ucl.ac.uk
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1

This article is a product of the Anniversary Research Fellowship I held between 2013–2015 at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, where I was able to test my notions of Assyrian presence in Anatolia on archaeologists with wildly different persuasions from my own. I am grateful for all the questions, comments, and suggestions I received from the brilliant research community at the Institute. In particular, I would like to thank the individual and collective efforts of three Assyriologists who helped me with my very rusty Akkadian: Olga Vinnichenko, Martin Worthington, and Nicholas Postgate. The latter two were, as always, gracious enough to read and comment on earlier drafts. Finally, I would like to thank the anonymous reviewer, whose comments I hope to have used well.

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