The Old Assyrian Social Network: An Analysis of the Texts From Kültepe-Kanesh (1950-1750 B.C.E.)
Anderson, Adam Grant
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AbstractA dissertation combing both quantitative and qualitative analyses to describe the Old Assyrian social networks, the remains of a Middle Bronze Age (IIa) merchant colony with surviving documents from 1970 to 1720 B.C.E. including a hierarchical social reconstruction, chronological familial genealogies, and social network analysis of ca. 6,000 Old Assyrian texts from Kültepe, Turkey. The initial western discovery and subsequent excavations in the early 20th century and onwards yielded thousands of cuneiform tablets. By exploiting the names of the individual merchants and their relationships to each other, as recorded on the tablets, we demonstrate how to generate quantitative and qualitative social networks in order to populate them with hierarchical rank distributions reflecting the merchants’ age and seniority in the network, the results of a latent variable model described herein. A method for homonym disambiguation is delineated, and applied for the purpose of assessing the age of cohort groups for demographic analysis. We conclude that grounding the primary sources in a structural networked setting will allow for a closer examination of the textual narratives around events occurring in the trade-network scalable from multiple vantage points, from a single merchant’s household to the broadest extent of the trade networks, stretching 1,000 km between the city-state of Assur and this central trade hub in Anatolia, known as Kanesh.
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