Month: November 2014

Month: November 2014

Melammu Again

Gravel road between green lawns passing through a dark brick gate with round, pointed towers on either side
Settling ground, modernizing city fathers, and fire storms could not destroy the fifteenth-century town gate of Lübeck

Earlier in November I attended the eighth Melammu Symposium in Kiel (with an excursion to Lübeck on the day after). This year was smaller than last, with about 30 attendees after some people who had agreed to give posters dropped out. Participants specialized in a wide range of places, times, and methodologies, from Christian Sogdian book culture about the year 1,000 to women in Elam in the third millennium BCE. As often happens, talks and the formal responses to groups of talks ran long. This week, I think I will write about some of the posters and talks related to the Achaemenid empire or military history.

Fabian Winklbauer presented a poster on the government of the Achaemenid empire. This is a proverbially difficult subject, since the documents are not self-explanatory, while the Greek and Latin literary tradition does not worry about such details. On the other hand, we do have a great many documents in many languages, and the Aramaic documents from Bactria suggest that the situation in one region from which few documents survived resembled that in regions where more are preserved. I hope to see more of his work in future years.

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Link Dump

On the Internet as in a cavalry fight, there are too many things flashing in front of your face. Unknown painting of an incident in the Thirty Years’ War, Heeresgeschichtliche Museum, Wien. A village in France has preserved the bedroom of a young officer who died in the First World War... Continue reading: Link Dump

Remembrance Day

War is a very old and very common custom, and so are commemorating it, celebrating it, and praying it away. Others more learned than I have commented on the war which was raging in Europe one hundred years ago. Today I thought I would share two perspectives on war from four thousand years ago.

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A Weather Report from 651 BCE

Photo of a cloudy grey sky over dark hills with a perfectly square cloud in front of the others
A cloud like this would definitely belong in an astronomical diary (taken 11 October 2014 on the Universitätsbrucke in Innsbruck)

… thunder … The 5th, Mercury’s first appearance in the east in Pisces … towards the south … It rained slowly. The 12th, a halo … The river level rose … The troops of Babylonia fought against the troops of Assyria; the troops … The 13th, the river level rose a little. The 14th, a cloud bank lay to the right of the sun. Night of the 15th, overcast. Three ra[inbows], one in the west, one between north and west, and one in the north, were seen. Rain, lightning, thunder, … clouds. The 15th, one god was seen with the other. Gusty south wind, haze crossed the face of the sky. Night of the 16th, the moon was surrounded by a large halo. The 16th, the sun was surrounded by a halo. The 18th, the sun was surrounded by a … halo; the south wind blew. The 19th, Venus stood in the region of Aries, 10 fingers behind Mars; the moon was surrounded by a halo, and α Scorpii stood in it. The 20th, Mars was 1 finger to the left of the front of Aries; it came close. The moon was surrounded by a halo, Jupiter stood in it. The south wind blew. The 27th, a rainbow whose brightness was very great stretched in the east. … in Hiritu in the province of Sippar the troops of Babylonia and Assyria fou[ght with each] other, and the troops of Babylonia withdrew and were heavily defeated. … [The no]rth wind blew. The 28th, a little rain. In the afternoon, a very red rainbow stretched in the east.

Sachs and Hunger, Astronomical Diaries and Related Texts from Babylonia, Volume I (Vienna, 1988) No. -651. All lacunae marked with /…/ are gaps in the tablet; all square brackets indicate damaged signs which could be reconstructed from context.
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