NELC Participation at the 214th Annual Meeting of the American Oriental Society (reported by Paul-Alain Beaulieu).
The 214th Annual Meeting of the American Oriental Society was held at the Doubletree Hotel San Diego/Mission Valley, 12-15 March 2004, in San Diego, California. Four graduate students of our department gave presentations. These included Charles Häberl (Semitic Philology), on "The Neo-Mandaic Dialect of Shushtar;" Rebecca Hasselbach (Semitic Philology), on "The Affiliation of Sargonic Akkadian with Babylonian and Assyrian: New Insights Concerning the Internal Sub-Grouping of Akkadian;" Benjamin Studevent-Hickman (Assyriology), on "The Witnesses of Emar;" and Avi Winitzer (Assyriology), who gave a talk entitled "More on Inanna's Symbol as Sign and the Interpretation of the 'Divine Presence' in Early Mesopotamian Divination."
Three recent graduates of our department also gave presentations. Tonia Sharlach (Assyriology), who has just been nominated Assistant Professor of Ancient History in Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma, gave a paper entitled "The Nippur Homicide Trial: A Reevaluation."She will be at the Harvard Divinity School on a Fellowship next year before she assumes her new position in Oklahoma. Kathryn Slanski (Assyriology), currently Kohut Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Yale University, spoke on "New Light on Chronicle P from an Unexpected Source: YBC 2242." Christopher Woods (Assyriology), Assistant Professor of Sumerology, The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, read a paper entitled "Of the Euphrates, Shamash, and Sippar: The Orthographical, Topographical, and Mythological Background of the Spelling UD.KIB.NUN."
Finally among NELC Faculty, Paul-Alain Beaulieu (Assyriology) talked
about "Building the North Palace of Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon."
We hope for an even larger NELC participation at the 2005 Annual Meeting of
the Society which will be held in Philadelphia between March 18 and 21 at
the Sheraton Society Hill, One Dock Street Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106.
Beaulieu, Associate Professor of Assyriology
Recent publications and activities (since Summer 2003).
The Pantheon of Uruk During the Neo-Babylonian Period (Cuneiform Monographs 23; Brill - Styx, Leiden and Boston, 2003). This book is about the pantheon of the Babylonian city of Uruk (modern site of Warka in southern Iraq) between the 9th and 5th centuries BC. It is based on a detailed analysis of the archive of the Eanna temple in Uruk, the sanctuary of the goddess Ishtar, containing well over 8,000 cuneiform tablets in the Akkadian language. The tablets date in their majority to the Neo-Babylonian and early Achaemenid periods (626-520 B.C.), and they shed light on the hierarchy of the local pantheon, providing a wealth of data concerning the cult of each deity, such as identity and theology, ornaments and clothing of the divine image, offerings ceremonies, temples, and cultic personnel.
"Nabopolassar and the Antiquity of Babylon," in Hayim and Miriam Tadmor Volume (Eretz-Israel, volume 27, 2003) 1-9.
"Ea-dayan, Governor of the Sealand, and Other Dignitaries of the Neo-Babylonian Empire." Journal of Cuneiform Studies 54 (2002) 99-123.
"W.F. Albright and Assyriology," Near Eastern Archaeology 65 (2002) 234-239.
"From Nineveh to Uruk: the Afterlife of Assyrian Scholarship in Hellenistic Babylonia," at the 49th Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, London, 7-11 July 2003.
"The Origins of the Zodiacal Sign Pisces and the Legends of Semiramis and Atargatis," Harvard-NELC Workshop on the Religion of Ancient Mesopotamia and Adjacent Areas, December 5, 2003.
"The Last Flourishing of Cuneiform Writing: From Imperial Assyria to Parthian Babylon," for the Program in Ancient Studies, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, December 9, 2003.
"Mesopotamian Mythology," for the Harvard Asia Center research project on comparative Pan-Asian mythology, organized by M. Puett and M. Witzel, December 15, 2003.
"Autour de la question de l'aniconisme: bétyles et autres créatures lithiques dans le Proche-Orient ancien," for the colloquium in honor of Jean Bottéro: un demi-siècle de recherches sur le Proche-Orient ancien. Université de Montréal, Montreal, Canada, January 8, 2004.
I gave a keynote address for the Japanese Association of Religious Studies in Tenri, Japan, September 3, 2003: "Reflections on the Comparative Study of Religion".
"Did God Forgive Adam? An Exercise in Comparative Midrash," in Jews and Christians: People of God (ed. Carl E. Braaten and Robert Jenson; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003): 148-70.
Contribution to New Edition of Hebrew Bible:
Introduction to and annotations of "Genesis" in the Oxford Jewish Study Bible (ed. Adele Berlin and Marc Z. Brettler; New York: Oxford University Press, 2003): 8-101.
"The Original Meanings of Biblical Monotheism," dinner lecture and discussion sponsored by the Jewish Community Day School, held in Newton, MA, November 1, 2003
"The Conversion of Abraham to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam,"
Congregational Church of Topsfield, MA, November 2, 2003
Peter Machinist, submits the following activities:
1) "The Emergence of Epic in the Middle Assyrian Period," invited lecture in the symposium to honor Prof. Hayim Tadmor on his 80th birthday, Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Jerusalem, Israel, November 20, 2003.
2) " Assyriology and the Bible: Benno Landsberger's Eigenbegrifflichkeit
Revisited," invited lecture in the Assyriology and the Bible Consulation,
Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, Atlanta, Georgia, November
In September I delivered the Khazeni Memorial Lecture at the University of Utah, and in October I delivered the Mirhady Lecture at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Also in October, I spoke at the Istanbul Book Fair in conjunction of the publication of the Turkish translation of one of my books.
Prof. Russell has published a translation and study, with the Armenian text, of "The Book of Flowers", a modern short story by Derenik Demirjian about pantheistic vision, poetic recital, and the transmission of culture in Mediaeval Armenia. The book was made possible by a grant form Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fund and appears in the Armenian Heritage Press series: it is available from the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research in Belmont, MA.
My Khotanese Catalogue came out in a second printing with corrections and additions, and we are already working on a second edition!
Among academic activities outside of Harvard, I participated in a series of lectures featuring mostly Harvard faculty and students (present and past, among them Calvert Watkins and Stephanie Jamison, now safely ensconced in the balmy climate of California) arranged by the Interdepartmental Program in Linguistics, Louisiana State University, October 23, with a presentation on ""Zarathustra as Epic Hero" and an improvised lecture for undergraduates on Old Iranian studies.
I presented the new, exciting, Bactrian documents "From the Caves of Afghanistan: New Material for 500 Years of Social and Political History in Bactria," at the luncheon talk series of the Committee on Inner Asia and Altaic Studies, Harvard, October 29, to the largest crowd I have seen at any of my presentations here.
I also participated in a Round-table Discussion on dialogues between Islamic Iran and other, non-Muslim, religions in that country, arranged by the ILEX foundation in New York, December 3.
Finally, I gave a presentation in honor of my great predecessor in the Aga Khan Chair in NELC at the Iranian Studies In honor of Professor Richard Nelson Frye, New York, December 19-20, sponsored by ISIC and AIIrS and arranged by the Iranian Mission to the UN.
Upcoming is an invitation from the Iranian-American Cultural Association, Washington, DC, to talk about ancient Iranian culture, end of February.
What else do I do, besides teaching and chairing? Not much, although a recent one-week trip to St Croix was re-invigorating; this is an island in the former Danish-Norwegian Virgin Islands (the US bought them). Some trivia: the D-NVI were the first in the Caribbean to free and give complete civil rights to slaves. Also, the young soldiers at the harbor fortress (protecting against Dutch and British pirates: Bluebeards, Blackbeards, etc.) had to wear their home woolen uniforms, because, "the Caribbean nights could get cool"! Well, I didn't wear my woolens.
Ahmad Ahmad, The responsibilities of principal instructor for two advanced Arabic courses coupled with my decision to take a German class to brush up my German have made this past fall semester less of a "dissertation season" for me. I enjoyed both teaching and getting back to German, though. In my German class, I got to read an interesting play by a modern Swiss writer (Friedrich Dürrenmatt) entitled Der Besuch der alten Dame (The Visit of the Old Lady), which addresses questions related to revenge and justice.
During the Fall, I also had a chance to participate in the 2nd International Conference on "Rights and Law in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Traditions," which was organized by the Evangelische Akademie Arnoldshain, Frankfurt, Germany in October 2003. It was my first opportunity to participate in intensive discussions on the questions of "Euro-Islam" as many people refer to a host of issues dealing with European Muslim minorities.
But the dissertation was not abandoned completely. In light of comments by
Professors Heinrichs and Graham, I expanded my notes as well as "text"-as
I refer to what I feel will be integrated into the dissertation after minor
revisions are made. It is hard at this point to make any prediction about
when I will be able to finish, but I am assuming I might need to stay in Cambridge
for another year.
Eric Beverley, In early October of 2003, I left my happy home in Hyderabad, India, sadly parting from my dear friends there, the fascinating (if disorganized and disintegrating) contents of the Andhra Pradesh State Archives, my motorbike, and the abundant and inexpensive vast portions of biryani, kebabs, and South Indian snacks and meals to which I had become accustomed. After a few days in Bombay celebrating Kali Puja with displaced yet jolly secular Bengalis and tying up loose ends at the Maharashtra State Archives, I flew to London, which was to be my home for the next month. In the erstwhile metropole, I spent long hours poring over documents in the India Office section of the British Library, ate moldy cheeses with Anglican clergy, and explored the cultural, culinary and pub life of the east and south of the city. I have been back in the States for more than two months now and since then have had happy reunions with family and friends in several places, settled into a lovely apartment in Jamaica Plain, and started work on my dissertation. In the coming semester I am looking forward to doing more writing, getting back to teaching and presenting a paper at a conference on Regions and Regional Consciousness in India at Arizona State University in the heart of the American desert.
In the last fifty years, the Turkish government has done much to re-organize the Ottoman archives according to the needs of modern archives, and abolish bureaucratic obstacles. Nonetheless, comparatively little of the material in the archives has been translated or published, and therefore historians wishing to do research in the archives must first master Ottoman. Even though Ottoman is the ancestor of Modern Turkish, fluency in it requires much more than knowledge of Turkish. As the language of an Islamic empire, whose diplomatic and literary traditions are most indebted to Iran, Ottoman pressed words, phrases, and entire utterances from Arabic and Persian into service. A serious scholar of the language must master these two languages in addition to Turkish, before he can hope to read Ottoman with any degree of fluency.
As it happens, the world's one and only Ottoman Summer School - in Turkish, Osmanlica Yaz Okulu - is directed by the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization's own Sinasi Tekin. This is not a widely-known fact, but it is not likely to surprise. The eminent Turkologist is the founding editor and publisher of the Journal of Turkish Studies, one of the most important western journals in the field of Turkish studies. He has been a member of the Harvard community since 1965, and the Osmanlica Yaz Okulu is his brainchild and his legacy. He and his wife Gönül Alpay Tekin have organized the program under the auspices of Koç University in Istanbul, in addition to those of Harvard.
The program is unique in many ways. Prospective Ottoman scholars can look forward to studyingon a paradisiacal Aegean island in the neighborhood of Lesbos, rather than Cambridge or Istanbul. The island appears on all maps as Alibey Adasi, "Mr. Ali's Island," but its inhabitants call it Cunda, after the old Venetian name for the island. Cunda is unlike any other part of Turkey; many of its native sons speak Turkish in the streets and Greek behind closed doors. In 1923, according to the terms of the Treaty of Lausanne, the ancestors of the inhabitants of the island were uprooted from their homes in Crete and transferred to Cunda. When several Kurdish families were settled there later that decade, they assimilated to the local population and acquired Giritçe, the Cretan dialect of their neighbors.
Students will be hard-pressed to find anyone who speaks English. The program offers an opportunity to become completely immersed in a Turkish environment. Despite their Cretan roots, the islanders are patriotic to a degree not seen in the United States or even elsewhere in Turkey. Every Monday morning to start the week, and every Friday evening to close it, life on Cunda comes to a halt, and all islanders stand to attention as the strains of the Istiklal Marsi, Turkey's national anthem, flow from loudspeakers strategically placed throughout the island. Even the Istanbullu Turks found this display of patriotism surprising. "It's like something out of a movie," says Niyazioglu. Turkish flags and the face of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founding father of modern Turkey, are prominently displayed in all quarters. His dicta appear on numerous billboards along the highways leading into Cunda and Ayvalik, its sister city on the mainland, not unlike the Burma Shave ads of yesteryear.
The irony of the program's location, situated as it is between its Greek past and its Kemalist present, is not lost on its instructors. "We thought that it was entirely appropriate," says Prof. Wheeler M. Thackston, a member of the brain trust that comprises the school's faculty. Thackston teaches Palaeography, Arabic, and Persian at the school. He himself wrote the text books for all three subjects. Last year, the task of instructing the school's sixteen students was divided between Thackston, Prof. Selim S. Kuru of the University of Washington (Harvard '00), Asli Niyazioglu (Harvard '03), and Hande Solakoglu (Ph.D. Candidate, University of Washington). Students who register in the program are divided into two groups, depending upon their interests. Scholars of the 19th and early 20th century read printed materials in Ottoman (with the aid of Solakoglu), and scholars of earlier periods are taught to read manuscripts (under the instruction of Kuru and Thackston). Additionally, Niyazioglu prepares both groups of students for their careerswith a course in academic Turkish.
In addition to the classrooms and the offices of the director, the school's campus houses the clinicof a German animal welfare organization, Pro Animale für Tiere in Not e. V. Of all of Cunda's many charms, the most memorable are the cats, who are the unchallenged masters of its animal kingdom; nary a dog (or a mouse, for that matter) is to be found. However, the feline population has reached catastrophic numbers, and Pro Animale has undertaken the important work of innoculating and sterilizing the island's prolific cats, nipping the problem in the bud, so to speak. "These are Byzantine cats," says program director Sinasi Tekin, "but we have Turkicized them!"
Roughly half of the book deals with the period up to and including the Israeli
War of Independence. This half can almost be considered a history of Israel
rather than a biography of one man. Perhaps the author can be forgiven this,
as it is essentially impossible to separate Yadin's life from the political
and military events with which he was so closely involved. Yet there are chapters
where one learns very little about
The book paints a clear picture of Yadin as a brilliant storyteller, which, from what I read and hear elsewhere, seems to be the most lasting impression he gave those who knew him. The book remains enjoyable, for Yadin was a fascinating personality. It is also quite educational with regards to Israeli history, despite the author's particular point of view. However, more enjoyable is Yadin's own books on the Bar-Kokhba discoveries and Masada excavations. There one can appreciate firsthand the importance of Yadin's work, as well as his gift of storytelling.