DepositGazetteer of the Ancient Near East

This grant will support the creation of the Gazetteer of the Ancient Near East. The project’s goal is to develop an authoritative, open access geospatial index of archaeological sites and historical places in the Near East, spanning some twelve thousand years (c. 12,500-600 BCE). The project is based on software developed by the Pleiades project (, an extant and successful model for open access Web-based gazetteers. By developing a gazetteer of Ancient Near East places, researchers will be able to link events, persons, and archaeological evidence through shared notions of place and time. Thus, this project will help scholars to bring together disparate lines of historical and archaeological evidence. In doing so, this project represents critically needed infrastructure to catalyze research in the Ancient Near East and serves as an exemplar for open, collaborative scholarship.

DepositThe Semantics of Purity in the Ancient Near East: Lexical Meaning as a Projection of Embodied Experience

This article analyzes the primary terms for purity in Biblical Hebrew, Ugaritic, Sumerian, Akkadian and Hittite. Building on insights from cognitive linguistics and embodiment theory, this study develops the premise that semantic structure – even of seemingly abstract concepts– is grounded in real-world bodily experience. An examination of purity terms reveals that all of them can be related to a concrete sense pertaining to radiance (brilliance, brightness, shininess). The article traces the semantic development of purity terms in distinct experiential contexts and shows how semantic analysis can elucidate the inner logic of fundamental religious concepts.

MemberJonathan Valk

…PhD Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University; 2018
Ancient World
MPhil Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University; 2015
Ancient World (Assyriology and Ancient Near East)
MA University of Chicago; 2009
Middle Eastern Studies
BA University of Oxford; 2007
Oriental Studies (Jewish Studies)…

Ahead of Print. The Origins of the Assyrian King List. Journal of Ancient Near Eastern History.
2016. “They Enjoy Syrup and Ghee at Tables of Silver and Gold”: Infant Loss in Ancient Mesopotamia. ­Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 59.5: 695-749.
2015. Representations of Power: Shaping the Past and the Present (Response), with Beate Pongratz-Leisten. Pp. 643-651 in Robert Rollinger and Erik van Dongen (eds.), Mesopotamia in the Ancient World: Impact, Continuities, Parallels. Proceedings of the Seventh Symposium of the Melammu Project Held in Obergurgl, Austria, November 4-8, 2013. Münster: Ugarit-Verlag.

University Lecturer in Assyriology at Leiden University specializing in the social and economic history of the Ancient Near East and in the theory of collective identity.

DepositReview of Kevin McGeough, Ancient Near East in the Nineteenth Century: Appreciations and Appropriations (3 vols.)

University of Lethbridge professor Kevin McGeough presents a meticulous and thorough three-volume series on the reception of Near Eastern culture, his- tory, and art in nineteenth-century Europe and America. Both in the introduction to the first volume and throughout the series, McGeough makes clear the fascination held by Western entities such as England, France, and the United States in relation to the geo- graphically and temporally distant lands of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.

MemberYael Landman

…n Lips and Tongues in Ancient Hebrew,” Vetus Testamentum 66 (2016): 66-77

Book Reviews

Review of: Jeremy D. Smoak, The Priestly Blessing in Inscription and Scripture: The Early History of Numbers 6:24-26, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016

Web-Based Articles

Dissertation Spotlight: The Biblical Law of Bailment in Its Ancient Near Eastern Contexts…

Hebrew Bible; ancient Near East; biblical, cuneiform, and early Jewish law; law and literature; Semitic linguistics My work examines the Hebrew Bible in comparison with ancient Near Eastern sources and draws on contemporary legal and literary theory and linguistics, with further recourse to ancient Jewish sources and medieval exegesis. I am currently transforming my dissertation into a book entitled Legal Practice, Legal Writing: The Biblical Bailment Law and Divine Justice.  I am Acquisitions Editor of Hebrew Bible, Ancient Near East, and Jewish Studies at Gorgias Press. If you are interested in submitting a proposal, email me at I am currently Visiting Research Fellow in Judaic Studies at CUNY Brooklyn College.

DepositOn Dying in a City Gate: Implications in the Deaths of Eli, Abner and Jezebel

Recent research has shown that city gates were a place of judgment, execution, and public displays in ancient Israel and the ancient Near East. This article explores the role of the gate on the literary level in the narratives concerning the deaths of Eli, Abner and Jezebel. It demonstrates how the function of gates in ancient Israel, and the institutions associated with them, allow the narrator to draw on themes of judgment, punishment and order, as well as creating a sense of irony throughout.

MemberJonathan Schmidt-Swartz

Ph.D., New York University, New York, NY
Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies
Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East
Dissertation: “Recasting Kingship: Power, Disrupted History, and Scribal Adaptation”
Committee: Daniel E. Fleming (chair); Mark S. Smith

M.Phil., New York University, New York, NY
Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies
Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East
Major Comprehensive Exam: Politics and Kingship in Samuel–Kings
Minor Comprehensive Exam: Scribal Culture and Critical Theory

A.B. summa cum laude, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Majors: Religious Studies and Comparative Literature
Minors: Near Easte…

I am a doctoral candidate in the Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University focusing on Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East. My primary research interests and dissertation focus broadly on the intersection of ancient scribal culture, critical theory, and kingship. More specifically, my dissertation aims to trace the intellectual history and historiography of kingship found within the Hebrew Bible in more concrete terms, namely, by considering how scribes (re)interpreted sources they inherited.