Inflation…or something else?

So, just over a week ago, I bought a copy volume 1, part 1 of the Cambridge Ancient History, mostly for the explanation of the chronology used in all the volumes. I got it used, in near fine condition, for $90, which is quite a deal considering that a new copy is around $150-170 (£110 on the Cambridge University Press site). (Did you know that the CAH volumes used to be printed with gilt top edges? Very nice!) Anyhow, flipping through the book, I found the original invoice, addressed to the former owner, from Blackwell’s. As they said in those days, “Far out!”

The order was placed 16 May 1969, and sent 8 February 1971. The price? £6,8/- (that’s Ancient English for “six pounds, eight shillings”) with the converted amount of $15.36. I nearly choked, I was so shocked. I still am! Gah! In the nearly 35 years since that invoice, these volumes, made more cheaply still(there ain’t no gold on new volumes from Cambridge University Press!), are more than ten times more expensive. It’s absolutely outrageous. What, ho, in another thirty-five? The $1,500 third edition volume 1 part 1, comprising only 14 pages, and that of mostly publishing credits, because it’ll be written by a minimalist who rejects chronology as “too reliant upon the Text as Authority”? I can hardly wait….

Biblical Studies Carnival II at Codex

Tyler Williams has posted the Biblical Studies Carnival II at his Codex blog, and it’s full of great stuff. There’s even an inclusion of some posts from yours truly. Swell! But there’re so many interesting posts and series of posts listed there that you just have to go see for yourself.

Hopefully folks can all also take part in ensuring that the Biblical Studies Carnival happens monthly by volunteering! I suggest an addition to “netiquette”: if you’re included in a Carnival, you should volunteer to host one in the future. It’d be unfair to load such work on one person (namely Tyler) all the time when so many are tacitly involved already through the inclusion of their posts, and probably a number more through having recommended posts for inclusion.

In any case, head over to Codex, read, learn, and enjoy! And if you feel up to it, head over to the Biblical Studies Carnival site and volunteer to host a future carnival, too.

Progress on Bīt-PN research

I’ve completed going through Andreas Fuchs’ Inschriften Sargons II. aus Khorsabad for information relevant to the Bīt-PN study in progress. The information has been added to my pdf file of the raw data, here. I’ve also taken a quick first stab at organizing the data in another file, here. The important thing to notice is that there is a trend in usage in the Neo-Assyrian royal inscriptions in the case of many of the newer Aramaean states in which the personal name of the geographic name “Bīt-PN” is explicitly (through the use of determinatives) or implicitly (through mention as a progenitor) personal, showing the understanding of the Assyrians that a real person, in many cases, lay behind the name. As noted in Hélène Sader’s Les États Araméens de Syrie: depuis leur Fondation jusqu’à leur Transformation en Provinces Assyriennes (Beiruter Texte und Studien 36. Beirut, 1987), these states were formed early in the first millennium by various personages for which a large number of territories were named, some examples of which being Bīt-Abdadāni, Bīt-Adini, and Bīt-Agūsi. The Assyrians, in referring to later rulers of these territories, typically recognized these rulers as descendants of the founders, and explicitly referred to them not as “king of Bīt-PN” but as “son of PN.” The geographic name thus also doubles in this kind of usage as a dynastic name: the place Bīt-Adini, the House of Adinu, is ruled by the descndants of Adinu, his ‘house’, and a ruler is referred to as “son of Adinu.” Whether these rulers were actually descended from the eponymous founders of their kingdoms is unknown, but the Assyrian scribes, presumably based upon Aramaean practice, treated the situation thus. The Assyrians themselves maintained a longstanding tradition of having their own single dynasty of rulers (however fictional this was), which may have influenced their understanding of other states for which they were not completely aware of the internal workings.

In any case, my further investigation into this subject will entail: looking into the origins of these “new” Aramaean states themselves; their relation to the ahlamu Aramaeans of the second (and third?) millennium; Aramaean influence on Neo-Assyrian Akkadian in some of the names of these states and others (it looks like in some cases, the Aramaic emphatic suffix is used); and last, but not least, the connection of all this to the Tel Dan Stela and the usage there of BYTDWD and its links to the phrase “House of David” and its equivalents in the Old Testament.

Some earlier postings here dealing with this subject are:
“House of David” and BYTDWD
Further on “House of …” usage
Further on Bīt-PN usage

Joe Cathey has also been keeping track of various postings on the Tel Dan BYTDWD subject, one of his summaries of which is Tel Dan – A Response. Look through the available links there (Jim West’s blog no longer exists, unfortunately, so those posts are all gone).

Disappearing post!

I just noticed that a post of mine which I put up last night has disappeared. How odd. How unacceptable. The html file for that page is still where it should be, but it’s not showing up in the archive, on the feed, or in the list of editable posts on blogger. Has anyone had that happen before?

I’ll probably just repost it, but I don’t want it to happen again.

Philip Glass: Akhnaten

Open are the double doors of the horizon
Unlocked are its bolts
Clouds darken the sky
The stars rain down
The constellations stagger
The bones of the hell hounds tremble
The porters are silent
When they see this king
Dawning as a soul

Such are the first words (from the Old Kingdom Pyramid Texts) spoken by the Scribe in the prelude of the Philip Glass opera Akhnaten. The setting for the immediately following Act I Scene 1 is the funeral of Amenhotep III, which contains two rousing pieces sung in ancient Egyptian. The opera includes a number of other pieces in Egyptian, as well as one in Akkadian (a section from Amarna Letter EA 288), and a few verses in Hebrew from Psalm 104, which naturally follow the end of the English translation of The Hymn to the Aten. Though many may find much of Glass’ work repetitious, it is much less so in this work than in others. In any case, the novelty of the ancient languages is just too much to pass up! In addition, the performance and recording are exquisite. I hadn’t listened to this in a long time before today, and had forgotten how enjoyable it is. It’s a two CD piece, with (at least in my old CBS Masterworks edition) a 93 page booklet with the credits, introduction, libretto and translations in German and French, performed by the Stuttgart State Opera Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Dennis Russell Davies. Akhnaten was the third work in Glass’ Trilogy: Einstein on the Beach (1976), Satyagraha (1980; depicting the life of Gandhi, with Sanskrit libretto), and Akhnaten (1984; it seems the boxed Masterworks edition is out of print; I don’t know what that Sony one is like).

Those of you teaching or learning Egyptian, Akkadian, or Hebrew could no doubt use parts of Akhnaten for counting some “ancient meets modern” classroom coup, I would think. The rest of us can just plain enjoy it!