Rethinking Epigraphy: What a Combined Butlerian & Bahktinian Analysis of Babylonian Kudurru Can Illuminate About Ancient Linguistic Mediation of Imagined Space
CitationArmi, Connor. 2018. Rethinking Epigraphy: What a Combined Butlerian & Bahktinian Analysis of Babylonian Kudurru Can Illuminate About Ancient Linguistic Mediation of Imagined Space. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractThis present thesis seeks to explain qualitatively how early Mesopotamian city states constructed and maintained their landscape through the creation of the kudurrus. Kudurrus are relatively large stones which contain iconographic and epigraphic data that explain the purpose and permanence of the stones themselves. Due to the links between the gods, kings, temples, and the land with which each is associated, the kudurrus function through culturally imbued agency by the expression and performance of the mediation and maintenance of cosmological boundaries which are associated with both the god’s landscape and the corresponding city-state with which the gods are associated. Through association with the divine ownership of landscape, artifacts such as the kudurrus are often overlooked as functional artifacts that served a purpose within the culture of genesis, rather than serving a function in many secondary depositions at Susa after the Elamite plundering of many Mesopotamian city-states. This thesis elucidates artifact functionality through a contemporary textual and multi-textual analysis, comprised of both kudurrus and other texts, as strained through a multi-tiered amalgamation of anthropological theoretical concepts. This will explain how each aspect of the kudurru, the iconography, the text, and the archaeological deposition, function down to the most basic level and the most complex. Through textual comparisons with texts from the border conflict between Umma-Lagash, during En-metena ensi of Lagash’s reign, which are not kudurrus but are finalized in stone form on the Stele of the Vultures, and the Epilogue from the Code of Hammurabi, this thesis will explicate how the kudurrus function as both a legal text and an artifact with culturally imbued agency. The linguistic expressions of geographic, cosmological, and cultural boundaries are shown to have been mediated and maintained through the practical relationship between the enforcement of the boundaries by men on behalf of the gods. This relationship reifies the purpose and functional agency of the kudurrus by maintaining a liminal status as legal text, expression of divine will, and cosmological landscape ownership. The discussion of kudurrus through this exercise of a methodological approach to theory illustrates the intrinsic link between linguistic expressions of cultural identity as linked to both gods and the landscape that the gods own, and how the kudurrus as artifacts gain agency through cultural belief in divine ownership of the defined landscape, which then mandates the enforcement of those boundaries.
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