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March 1 2013

Sorcery, Sex and the Sheep Census: Reconstructing the socio-economic patterns of Bronze Age Mesopota


The textual corpus of Bronze Age Mesopotamia is unique in its richness; containing works which appear purely administrative, entirely fictional, or anywhere along a vast spectrum between the two extremes. The present discussion evaluates the major textual genres in terms of their possible uses in reconstructing wider socio-economic dynamics across Mesopotamia: this includes both practical aspects of the agricultural and commercial economies, but also points of ideology centred on complementary themes of fatalistic transience, rejuvenation, and the sensuality of mortals. The two are then linked together by an analysis of legal and haruspical texts, which were written for practical purposes but are imbued with underlying ideological meanings.

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