The theme of the conference is “Inequality in the Ancient Near East”.
Understanding the emergence of social inequalities remains one of the key challenges of the study of the past. There is little doubt that the ancient Near East, with its rich archival records and archaeological datasets, is a prime locus for research into the history of inequality. It has the dubious honor of bearing witness to what is probably the earliest organized exploitation of humans for the benefit of others.
In this Rencontre we would like to explore the theme of inequality in its broadest sense. Did social inequality change over time? Was the success of states correlated to their degree of inequality? How did gender, ethnicity, age, disability and other identity positions, relate to inequality and how were these enshrined in the legal system? What were the possibilities to act against oppression? How was inequality represented in art and literature and by the semantics of words, how were its origins imagined, or how did inequalities influence artistic expressions?
The above questions are relevant for scholars of various disciplines, including (art) history, archaeology, philology, linguistics, and digital humanities. Participants are encouraged in particular to address matters of methodology. Which tools can we use to study social inequalities in the ancient Near East? Are quantitative data from textual or archaeological sources a good proxy for investigating social inequalities? What are the opportunities to investigate inequality from the bottom up? How do present-day inequalities affect the field(s) of Ancient Near Eastern studies and their ability to understand the ancient world? Through these and related questions, we invite all participants to rethink social inequalities in the ancient Near East.