International Relations in the Ancient Near East, 1600-1100 B.C.

By Mario Liverani | Go to book overview

2
Universal Control

The use of royal titles and epithets hinting at universal control of the world is well known in every period of ancient Near Eastern history, and not least in the Late Bronze age. The interesting problem is logical and classificatory: how were the ancient scribes able to express totality, and consequently total control? The easiest way is to assert authority over a world viewed as an undifferentiated unit. A classical example of this is the Akkadian title šar kiššati (‘king of the universe’), which in our period is assumed by the Kassite kings (from Kurigalzu I on) in its properly abstract meaning, 1 and by the Assyrian kings (from Ashur-uballit I to Tiglat-pileser I), 2 and as a reaction also by the Hittite king Tudhaliya IV, 3 probably with a more precise allusion to the control of Upper Mesopotamia. Another way is to assert control over a totality, or whole, viewed as united but not unitary, homogeneous but not compact, as implied by the Akkadian title šar / bēl kiššat nišē ‘king / lord of the whole people' 4 or by the Egyptian title nb n h',swt nbt ‘lord of all lands’. 5

But more often the totality is viewed as being structured, that is subdivided into different parts. This underlines the spatial relations to the central country, so confirming its position as pivot of the world. First of all, the whole can be structured by contrasting the inner country and the periphery (e.g. ḥq', kmt dšrt ‘king of agricultural land and steppe-land’, or the like). 6 A second possibility is a twofold designation of the centre and/or the periphery separately considered. The best known bipartite division of the inner country is the Egyptian idea of an oikumene obtained by joining two complementary halves, equal in value, as reflected in the most common royal titles nswt bit ‘king of Upper and Lower Egypt’, and nb t',wy ‘lord of both lands’. 7 In this case the assertion of universal control only makes reference to the inner country, but is implicitly projected onto the entire world. The implications in the Babylonian title ‘king of Sumer and

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International Relations in the Ancient Near East, 1600-1100 B.C.
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Territory and Borders 15
  • 1 - Inner vs. Outer Territory 17
  • 2 - Universal Control 23
  • 3 - The Boundaries of the World 29
  • 4 - Symbolic Attainment of the World Border 34
  • 5 - The Coexistence of Different States 38
  • 6 - Moving Borders 46
  • 7 - The Boundary as a Watershed for Taxation 52
  • 8 - The Boundary as a Watershed for Responsibilities 57
  • 9 - Runaways and Extradition 66
  • 10 - Messengers and ‘Ambassadors’ 71
  • Part II - War and Alliance 77
  • 11 - The One Against Many 79
  • 12 - War as Elimination of the Rebels 86
  • 13 - Conquest as a Cosmic Organization 91
  • 14 - Peace as Submission 97
  • 15 - Ordeal by War 101
  • 16 - The Rules of War 108
  • 17 - The Battle of Megiddo 116
  • 18 - Peace as Mutual Recognition 122
  • 19 - The Ideology of Protection 128
  • 20 - The Ideology of Brotherhood 135
  • Part III - Circulation of Goods 139
  • 21 - Priority and Continuity of the Redistributive Pattern 141
  • 22 - Intervention of the Reciprocal Pattern 146
  • 23 - Accumulation vs. Circulation 151
  • 24 - Self-Sufficiency vs. Interdependence 155
  • 25 - The Ideology of Life 160
  • 26 - Hatshepsut and Punt: Trade or Tribute? 166
  • 27 - Wen-Amun and Zakar-Ba'Al: Gift or Trade? 170
  • 28 - The Annals of Tuthmosis Iii: Tribute or Gift? 176
  • 29 - The Origins of Tribute 183
  • 30 - Equal vs. Unequal Marriages 189
  • 31 - Conclusions 196
  • Chronologies 203
  • Notes 205
  • Index 233
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