This past January the Institute of Archaeology hosted a conference dealing with the one of the most important phases in the social history of the Levant—the mass translocations of peoples by the Mesopotamian empires during the ca. 8th–6th centuries BCE. The Assyrian and Babylonian empires consolidated their rule through the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of peoples and their deportations to the imperial heartlands and to the margins of the colonial networks, breaking social structures that had been formed over centuries. The most famous and discussed case is the deportation of the Jerusalemites by the Babylonians in the early 6th century BCE. The aim of the conference was to explore various aspects of the phenomenon of mass deportation through several perspectives: archaeological, historical, and textual. Among the topics discussed were the available sources; the importance of the deportations to the imperial system; the life of the deportees in their new homes (such as changes in social structures, practices, and ideology); the relations with the locals; and the memories of the deportations and their accumulation across the generations.
The 23rd Annual Conference of the Israel Society for Assyriology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies was hosted this year by the Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology. Held on Tuesday, January 7, 2020, at Tel Aviv University, the conference, titled “The Power of Words in the Ancient Near East,” was dedicated to original and innovative studies on Assyrian and Babylon literature, religion and iconography, Hittite magic spells, and Moabite inscriptions. Among the speakers were leading Israeli scholars, as well as young scholars at the very beginning of their academic careers. This year the guest speaker of the Israel Society for Assyriology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies was Prof. Eckart Frahm of Yale University. The conference was an overall success, and we look forward to the many future contributions such collaboration will garner.
The international conference “Ancient Near Eastern Historiography and Religion” hosted four lecturers. Prof Dr. Caroline Waerzeggers of Leiden University, fellow of the Nirit and Michael Shaoul Fund for Visiting Scholars and Fellows, presented a talk on the historicity of the Babylonian chronicles, titled Literature of Fact: Reconsidering the Babylonian Chronicles. Dr. Livio Warbinek, the 2018–2019 Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology post-doctoral fellow, presented a study of the Hittite Ritual for the Primeval Deities (CTH 492). Prof. Dr. Daniel Schwemer of the JuliusMaximilians-Universität Würzburg, fellow of the Fund for the Advancement of Humanities and Social Sciences in Israel, presented a fragmentary forerunner to a famous Hittite prayer in a paper titled How the Hittites Learned to Pray: An Akkadian Model of the Kantuzili Prayer. The last speaker was Prof. Dr. Nathan Wasserman of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His paper was titled Some (Pessimistic) Remarks on Writing Ancient History. Reflections after “The Amorites: Mesopotamia in the Early Second Millennium BCE.”