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

By Mario Liverani | Go to book overview

22
Intervention of the Reciprocal Pattern

The application of the redistributive pattern to international relations is more appropriate in the case of imperialistic states extending their influence toward the periphery and imposing unequal rates of exchange. In consequence, the pattern has a privileged position in texts originating in larger centralized states surrounded by minor partners, as with the early Mesopotamian states, Egypt and the Neo-Assyrian and Achaemenid empires. However, when international relations are more balanced and the ideological perspectives of bordering states are similar, the reciprocal pattern becomes the basic instrument for inter-state contacts. In the formative period of the Middle Bronze the reciprocal pattern is fully operative in the Syro-Mesopotamian area, 1 and in the Late Bronze period throughout the entire Near East. 2

The texts of the time are especially insistent that all international relationships follow a mirror-like pattern: what is valid in one direction must be accepted as equally valid in the other. We have already seen how this mental design is best translated into the literary pattern of symmetry in international treaties and related documents (Chapters 5 and 16). The same holds true for the exchange of material goods, planned according to symmetrical statements: ‘Whatever you desire in my land, write to me and they will bring to you; and whatever I desire in your land, I will write to you and they will bring to me.’ 3 The climax is a general placing of one's own resources at the partner's disposal: ‘This land is the land of my brother, and this house is the house of my brother.’ 4

Most of the general statements about reciprocity are found in documents pertaining to the most critical moment in a partnership, namely its beginning; later on, the exchanges will continue along the same lines. The beginning of a completely new partnership is rarely recorded, but it is attested in the first letters written by Ashur-uballit to

-146-

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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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