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Bronze Age Bureaucracy
Writing and the Practice of Government in Assyria


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  • Date Published: April 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107043756

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About the Authors
  • This book describes ten different government archives of cuneiform tablets from Assyria, using them to analyze the social and economic character of the Middle Assyrian state, as well as the roles and practices of writing. The tablets, many of which have not been edited or translated, were excavated at the capital, Assur, and in the provinces, and they give vivid details to illuminate issues such as offerings to the national shrine, the economy and political role of elite households, palace etiquette, and state-run agriculture. This book concentrates particularly on how the Assyrian use of written documentation affected the nature and ethos of government, and compares this to contemporary practices in other palatial administrations at Nuzi, Alalah, Ugarit, and in Greece.

    • Provides the first full-length account of the nature and ethos of the Middle Assyrian state
    • Constitutes the first explicit attempt to explore the uses and effects of written documentation in a Late Bronze Age state administration
    • Offers new insights into scribal practices and the differences and similarities between neighboring states
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    • Winner of the 2014 Frank Cross Moore Award, American Schools of Oriental Research

    Reviews & endorsements

    '… a superb monograph: a real must-have for all university libraries, colleges of higher education and anyone interested in the material nature and purpose of writing in Near Eastern Bronze Age cultures.' Sandra Jacobs, Strata: Bulletin of the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society

    'At nearly five hundred pages, this ninety-nine dollar volume is a bargain, a treasure trove of data, meticulously organized and enhanced by Postgate's great erudition, keen judgment, and profound appreciation of the mechanics of Late Bronze Age bureaucratic practice.' M. P. Maidman, Journal of the American Oriental Society

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2014
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107043756
    • length: 494 pages
    • dimensions: 262 x 186 x 26 mm
    • weight: 1.36kg
    • contains: 34 b/w illus. 7 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. The land of Assur in the late Bronze Age
    3. Writing in Assyria: the scribes and their output
    4. Archives at Assur
    5. Archives in the provinces
    6. The government of Assyria and its impact
    7. Nuzi, the nearest neighbor
    8. Western contemporaries: Alalah, Ugarit and Greece
    9. The records of government.

  • Author

    Nicholas Postgate, University of Cambridge
    Nicholas Postgate was Professor of Assyriology at the University of Cambridge from 1994 to 2013 and Fellow of Trinity College. He directed excavations at the Sumerian city at Abu Salabikh in South Iraq from 1973 to 1989, and at the Bronze and Iron Age settlement at Kilise Tepe in South Turkey from 1994 to 2012. His articles have been published in Iraq, Revue d'Assyriologie, the Journal of Cuneiform Studies, the Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Sumer, and Anatolian Studies. He is author of Early Mesopotamia: Society and Economy at the Dawn of History, editor of several volumes of Assyrian documents, and co-editor of A Concise Dictionary of Akkadian.


    • Winner of the 2014 Frank Cross Moore Award, American Schools of Oriental Research

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