Trial by Water through the Ages

Studia Antiqua et Archaeologica 27(2): 301-330 Joanna TÖYRÄÄNVUORI ABSTRACT The concept of trial by water or water ordeal is best known to the wider public through European witch trials from the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period, but the practiced is first attested in near eastern texts from the Middle Bronze Age (2200–1550 BCE). The depiction of the medieval trials is largely folkloric, such trials were nonetheless known throughout the ancient world. The best evidence for ordeal by river is found in the letters from the clay tablet archives of Mari on the Upper Euphrates. A central site for divine arbitration among the Amorite kingdoms, the practice seems to have dwindled after the destruction of Mari and its cultic sites in 1759 BCE. Reviewing the ancient evidence for trial by water, this article demonstrates how the trials were used for a particular purpose: to verify the truth statements(…)

The Long Path of Nanāia from Mesopotamia to Central and South Asia

Studia Antiqua et Archaeologica 27(2): 279-299 Andrew SCHUMANN, Vladimir SAZONOV ABSTRACT In this paper we show that the Mesopotamian goddess Nanāia had some attributes (such as ‘warrior goddess’ and ‘sitting on a tiger/lion/standing with a lion/lions’) which were preserved in her worship from the period of Ur III (the second millennium BC) in Mesopotamia up to the period of the Kuṣāṇas and Kūšānšāhs (from the 1st century AD to the late 4th century AD), and even up to the period of later Nomadic dynasties of Northern India, such as the Kidarites and Hephthalites (from the 4th century AD to the 8th century AD) in Central and South Asia. In later stages we detect early Hindu images of Nanāia presented as Durgā as well as early Hindu images of the divine couple Oešo and Nanāia presented as Umāmaheśvara. So, the standard Indian iconographic motif of Durgā could be traced back to(…)

The Identity of Martu (dMAR.TU) in the Ur III Period

Studia Antiqua et Archaeologica 27(2): 267-278 Andreas JOHANDI ABSTRACT The main purpose of this article is to study the divine figure(s) who hid behind the writing dMAR.TU during the Ur III period. The question is posed whether this writing signified only Martu/Amurru, the Amorite deity, or is there any reason to believe that Martu was not the only divine concept that stood behind this writing. As we know, in some other cases in Mesopotamian religion, the names of several deities were written in the same way (with the same signs). Some earlier studies have assumed that there was a connection between the similarly named gods Martu and Marduk. In the second part of the article, this question is revisited and it is asked whether the “other” dMAR.TU could be identical with Marduk, the later king of the gods in Mesopotamia. Finally, the relationship of dMAR.TU to the divine figure named(…)

Genesis 11, 1–9 and its Sumerian Predecessors in Comparative Perspective: Early Views on “National Culture” and its Nature

Studia Antiqua et Archaeologica 27(2): 255-266 Peeter ESPAK ABSTRACT The paper discusses some key texts from Ancient Mesopotamian and also Hebrew mythologies which may have had several indications and contained many ancient understandings about the early views on the modern notions of a nation, national culture and the role of language on these beliefs. The possible connection of the Sumerian epic tale Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta is discussed in context with the Enuma Eliš myth in context with Hebrew Genesis’ the Tower of Babel story and the character of these text and the nature of their evolution is analysed. Based on some Sumerian royal correspondence, hymns, and epic literature and the worldview presented in Sumerian literature it is concluded that that certainly and especially a sort of a language based cultural and also ethnical understanding about a “distinct nation” culturally separate from “other” nations already existed more than(…)

The question of ‘elites’: real people or mysterious agents? Elitism as a convenient recourse to interpret social change in prehistoric Southwestern Asia (from the origins of sedentism to the ‘Uruk phenomenon’)

Studia Antiqua et Archaeologica 27(2): 223-253 Cristina BARCINA ABSTRACT This article analyzes current theoretical discourses within the Neolithic and Chalcolithic research of Southwestern Asia, which is still dominated by interpretations that assume a progression of increased hierarchization. Whether explicitly or implicitly, social evolutionary thinking still pervades our scholarship, and prevents innovative theory-building. This entails an inability to break with heuristics of ‘origins’ inherited from the past (e.g. “from the origins of domestication to the origins of civilization”), even though old and new discoveries, when integrated, are already pointing towards alternative research pathways. Sedentism, domestication, and urbanism were all complex, protracted, non-linear processes. Yet, the visualization of an ‘Uruk phenomenon’ expanding over large areas of Mesopotamia during the 4th millennium BC, ridden with problematic inconsistencies, still heralds the triumphal rise of civilization. Instead of relying on obsolete political and economic theories, or fake economy/ritual dichotomies, the investigation of social intelligence and(…)


Studia Antiqua et Archaeologica 27(2): 221-222 Vladimir SAZONOV, Peeter ESPAK, Andreas JOHANDI ABSTRACT Several papers published in this volume were presented at the conference Formative Tendencies in Near Eastern Religions and Ideologies in Beirut, Lebanon, in April 2019. The conference was organized by the Centre for Oriental Studies of the University of Tartu and the Finnish Institute in the Middle East.   FULL ARTICLE Download PDF (free)