Dr. Shiyanthi Thavapalan (Brown University): Cuneiform Writing and the Transfer of Technological Knowledge in the Ancient Near East

Cuneiform texts generally begin as part of living scholarly tradition, composed by and for an audience interested in setting down in writing the knowledge they contain. In their afterlives, texts may be copied at a time when the knowledge is obsolete or even by people who could no longer understand them. The scribes who copied Early Dynastic lexical lists in Old Babylonian Nippur preserved orthographies that had gone out of use. But by modifying the layout to fit Old Babylonian standards and by adding glosses—in other words, by interpreting these old word lists—they kept them alive. We encounter something else with the divination compendia: in this case, knowledge acquired through the practice of extispicy, which had been taking place long before diviners began to explain in writing the meaning of signs on sacrificial animals and in the environment around them, was organized into systems. This permitted the production of written knowledge within this field to extend beyond the constraints of empiricism. The divination compendia were not produced to keep the practice of divination alive but were written, copied and read by those who were interested in establishing the prestige of this knowledge.
This workshop concerns the inception and purpose(s) of the Akkadian glass recipes, most of which are only known to us in their afterlife. We will examine the Middle Babylonian and Middle Assyrian glass “ingredient lists” (maškantu texts) and the 7th-century procedural texts from Ashurbanipal’s library, which I argue, report on older, Bronze Age glass-making practices. The terminology used in the texts, the glass-making techniques described and recent chemical analysis of ancient glass support this view. We will also discuss the form and function of the glass-making recipes in light of other instructive and prescriptive ‘procedure texts,’ such as the Goal-Year texts and tērsītu tables used in mathematical astronomy in the first millennium BCE.

Podrobnosti události

Začátek události
29. 3. 2018 9:10 - 10:45
Místo konání
Celetná 20, Praha 1 (FF UK, místnost C102)
Typ události
Konference a přednášky