Handbook of Ugaritic Studies

Handbook of Ugaritic Studies

Handbook of Ugaritic Studies

Handbook of Ugaritic Studies


Over the past seven decades, the scores of publications on Ugarit in Northern Syria (15th to 11th centuries BCE) are so scattered that a good overall view of the subject is virtually impossible. Wilfred Watson and Nicolas Wyatt, the editors of the present Handbook in the series Handbook of Oriental Studies, have brought together and made accessible this accumulated knowledge on the archives from Ugarit, called the foremost literary discovery of the twentieth century by Cyrus Gordon. In 16 chapters a careful selection of specialists in the field deal with all important aspects of Ugarit, such as the discovery and decipherment of a previously unknown script (alphabetic cuneiform) used to write both the local language (Ugaritic) and Hurrian and its grammar, vocabulary and style; documents in other languages (including Akkadian and Hittite), as well as the literature and letters, culture, economy, social life, religion, history and iconography of the ancient kingdom of Ugarit. A chapter on computer analysis of these documents concludes the work. This first such wide-ranging survey, which includes recent scholarship, an extensive up-to-date bibliography, illustrations and maps, will be of particular use to those studying the history, religion, cultures and languages of the ancient Near East, and also of the Bible and to all those interested in the background to Greek and Phoenician cultures.


The Handbook of Ugaritic Studies is the product of the labours of a large team of scholars from many countries. Its gestation has been quite lengthy, with many emergencies, false alarms, high bloodpressure, worrying scans, premature contractions and so forth.

The original editor, Johannes de Moor of Kampen, began the organization of the volume, drew up an outline and undertook the arduous task of contacting contributors from around the globe. However, for personal reasons, he felt compelled to withdraw from the enterprise at an early stage and the publishers then invited Wilfred Watson (Newcatle) to take over. This, of course, was felt to be a great honour, but due to the need for a fellow-worker, Nicolas Wyatt (Edinburgh) was then invited to act as co-editor. The use of e-mail has enabled the editors to work closely together on all the stages of the production of the Handbook and to maintain contact with many of the contributors. It was also helpful for the translation of contributions in German, Italian and Spanish (15 out of the 47 sections) prepared by Watson, with some revision by Wyatt and the contributors concerned.

Unfortunately, there was a gap of several months before the project was resumed under its new editors and for a variety of reasons a number of scholars withdrew from the project. Only when it was reestablished under the direction of the new editorial team did the entire membership of the Mission de Ras Shamra withdraw. This meant that new contributors had to be found, some at quite short notice. Further withdrawals at intervals right to the end of the project have discouraged us, and we have to thank Patricia Radder of Brill, as well as those contributors who generously stepped into the breaches left by others, in some cases very late in the day, to enable us finally to make the volume ready for delivery.

Since this volume has been published in English, we have by and large standardized ancient names where there are recognized English equivalents, so that, for instance, ancient 'Karkamiš' and 'Kargamiš' are rendered 'Carchemish'. Similarly, 'Ilu' becomes 'El', 'Baʿlu' becomes 'Baal', and so on. We have not however imposed total consistency, so that 'Ĥatti' and 'Mukiš', for instance, which have no . . .

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