• Family Structure, Household Cycle, and the Social Use of Domestic Space in Urban Babylonia

    Heather D Baker (see profile)
    Ancient Near East, Archaeology, Assyriologists, Near Eastern Archaeology
    Middle East, History, Ancient
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Ancient Near Eastern
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    This paper examines the relationship between house and household in first-millennium BC Babylonia, drawing on both textual and archaeological evidence. It builds on previous research by the author which has focused on elucidating the Babylonian terms for parts of the house and correlating these with architectural forms, based on comparison with the excavated ground plans of contemporary houses. Now that the key sectors of the house can be identified by name, it is possible to investigate the textually attested scenarios in which these terms occur in order to build up a more detailed picture of how the house was shared between different members of the extended family and also, in some cases, with outsiders. Room function is taken into account where possible, but the focus is rather on the social use of space — a topic that is more accessible, given the nature of the written sources and the state of the available archaeological evidence. The cuneiform tablets present detailed information on the physical configuration of individual properties and their immediate surroundings. They also tell us a great deal about the composition of the household and the circumstances surrounding property transfers, with cases involving inheritance being particularly informative. Family "dossiers" in combination with the contemporary archaeological evidence form the basis for a "micro-historical" approach to the study of the Neo- and Late Babylonian house and household. In line with this approach, the paper uses case studies drawn from the corpus of everyday documents from Hellenistic Uruk to examine household composition and processes of household transformation.
    Book is available for free download at: https://oi.uchicago.edu/research/publications/ois/ois-10-household-archaeology-complex-societies
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    6 years ago
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