The Centre's seminar series continued in Trinity Term 1997 with two papers on Near Eastern documentary themes to complement Prof. Briant's Lewis Lecture. An extended report on Jeremy Black's and Eleanor Robson's paper on the Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature appears elsewhere in the Newsletter. A short summary of Heather Baker's paper follows below:

Family Archives from Neo-Babylonian and Early Achaemenid Babylon

(3 June, 1998)

This paper gave an overview of the private family archives from late-7th through to early 5th century BC Babylon. These archives constitute practically our only source material from Babylon at this period, because state and temple archives from the city remain largely unknown. The paper considered the methods by which the private archives, which were not recovered through controlled excavation, can be reconstructed. Prosopographic study is especially important in this respect and enables us, for example, to identify so-called "chains of transmission" of tablets which were passed on as proof of ownership when property, such as temple prebends or real-estate, was transferred by one party to another. The range of document types and tablet formats, and the significance of sealing practices, were briefly described. Finally, the paper considered some of the contrasts which emerge between the different archives. The composition of the Nappahu (or "Smith") family archive, the second largest archive from Babylon of this period (c. 260 tablets), was discussed. The activities of this family and the extent and character of their property-holdings were contrasted with those of the Egibi family, which accumulated the largest known archive from Babylon (over 2,000 tablets).

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The Lewis Lecture for 1998 was given by Prof. Pierre Briant of Toulouse University at 5.00 pm on Wednesday 20 May in the Garden Quad Auditorium. St. John's College. The title of Prof. Briant's lecture was "Greek Epigraphy and Achaemenid History: Pixodaros and Xanthos". Prof. Briant summarises the themes of his discussion:

"The now famous trilingual inscription of Xanthos (Aramaic, Greek, Lycian), which was first published in 1974, then published in a final form in 1979, is an essential document for the historians of the Achaemenid Empire. It pertains to a new cultic foundation as decided by the Xanthian community. One of the most debated questions about the inscription has been the role of the satrap Pixodaros in the institutional process. A re-examination of the last Greek formula shows that, contrary to a long-established theory, neither this Greek formula nor the Aramaic version issued by the satrapal chancellery is intended to give 'full authority' to the civic decision. More simply, the satrap acts as a guarantor of the civic regulations and will act as an arbitrator of a conditional violation."

The Lewis Lecture for 1999 will be given by Prof. Shaye Cohen, Ungerleider Professor and Director of Judaic Studies at Brown University, at 5.00 pm on Wednesday 26 May in the Garden Quad Auditorium, St. John's College. The title of the lecture is "Hellenism in Unexpected Places".

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