Faculty Books

How To Do Things With Tears

In contrast to other traditions, cultic laments in Mesopotamia were not performed in response to a tragic event, such as a death or a disaster, but instead as a preemptive ritual to avert possible catastrophes. Mesopotamian laments provide a unique insight into the relationship between humankind and the gods, and their study sheds light on the nature of collective rituals within a crosscultural context. 

Cultic laments were performed in Mesopotamia for nearly 3000 years. This book provides a comprehensive overview of this important ritual practice in the early 2nd millennium BCE, the period during which Sumerian laments were first put in writing. It also includes a new translation and critical edition of Uruamairabi (‘That city, which has been plundered’), one of the most widely performed compositions of its genre.

Landscape History of Hadramawt: The Roots of Agriculture in Southern Arabia

The rugged highlands of southern Yemen are one of the less archaeologically explored regions of the Near East. This final report of survey and excavations by the Roots of Agriculture in Southern Arabia (RASA) Project addresses the development of food production and human landscapes, topics of enduring interest as scholarly conceptualizations of the Anthropocene take shape. Along with data from Manayzah, site of the earliest dated remains of clearly domesticated animals in Arabia, the volume also documents some of the earliest water management technologies in Arabia, thereby anchoring regional dates for the beginnings of pastoralism and of potential farming.

The Origin and Character of God: Ancient Israelite Religion Through the Lens of Divinity

The Origin and Character of God is a comprehensive reference work that explores the vast subject that is the God of ancient Israel. It received the 2020 Frank Moore Cross Award from the American Schools of Oriental Research for “the most substantial volume related to the history and/or religion of the ancient Near East and Eastern Mediterranean” and the 2021 Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion: Historical Studies from the American Academy of Religion (https://aarweb.org/AARMBR/Publications-and-News-/Newsroom-/News-/2021/2021-AAR-Book-Awards.aspx).  In the volume, Lewis examines questions of historical origin, how God was characterized in literature, and how he was represented in archaeology and iconography. The volume also brings us into the lived reality of religious experience. Using the window of divinity to peer into the varieties of religious experience in ancient Israel, Lewis explores the royal use of religion for power, prestige, and control; the intimacy of family and household religion; priestly prerogatives and cultic status; prophetic challenges to injustice; and the pondering of theodicy by poetic sages.   

Water Histories and Spatial Archaeology

This book offers a new interpretation of the spatial-political-environmental dynamics of water and irrigation in long-term histories of arid regions. It compares ancient Southwest Arabia (3500 BC-AD 600) with the American West (2000 BC-AD 1950) in global context to illustrate similarities and differences among environmental, cultural, political, and religious dynamics of water. It combines archaeological exploration and field studies of farming in Yemen with social theory and spatial technologies, including satellite imagery, Global Positioning System (GPS), and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping. In both ancient Yemen and the American West, agricultural production focused not where rain-fed agriculture was possible, but in hyper-arid areas where massive state-constructed irrigation schemes politically and ideologically validated state sovereignty. While shaped by profound differences and contingencies, ancient Yemen and the American West are mutually informative in clarifying human geographies of water that are important to understandings of America, Arabia, and contemporary conflicts between civilizations deemed East and West.

Rural Archaeology in Early Urban Northern Mesopotamia

This book presents the results of the extensive excavation of a small, rural village from the period of emerging cities in upper Mesopotamia (modern northeast Syria) in the early to middle third millennium BC. Prior studies of early Near Eastern urban societies generally focused on the cities and elites, neglecting the rural component of urbanization. This research represents part of a move to rectify that imbalance. Reports on the architecture, pottery, animal bones, plant remains, and other varieties of artifacts and ecofacts enhance our understanding of the role of villages in the formation of urban societies, the economic relationship between small rural sites and urban centers, and status and economic differentiation in villages. Among the significant results are the extensive exposure of a large segment of the village area, revealing details of spatial and social organization and household economics. The predominance of large-scale grain storage and processing leads to questions of staple finance, economic relations with pastoralists, and connections to developing urban centers.

Texts and Contexts

This volume assembles scholars working on cuneiform texts from different periods, genres, and areas to examine the range of social, cultural, and historical contexts in which specific types of texts circulated. Using different methodologies and sources of evidence, these articles reconstruct the contexts in which various cuneiform texts circulated, providing a critical framework to determine how they functioned.

Following the Man of Yamhad

Legal texts recording the purchase or exchange of entire settlements are among the most important cuneiform tablets discovered at Old Babylonian/Middle Bronze Age (Level VII) Alalah. Following the Man of Yamhad is the first book-length study of these legal texts and the socio-economic practice that they document. The author explores the nature of the alienated settlements, the rights enjoyed by their owners, the underlying system of land tenure, and the larger political context in which the transactions occurred. The study is supported by extensive collations and up-to-date editions of relevant legal and administrative texts. Its conclusions will be of interest to anyone working on the history, society, and economy of the Bronze Age Near East.

Creativity and Innovation in the Reign of Hatshepsut

This volume publishes the proceedings of the Theban Symposium that took place in May 2010, in Granada, Spain, at the Institute for Arabic Studies of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), on the general theme of “Creativity and Innovation in the Reign of Hatshepsut.” The volume contains nineteen papers that present new perspectives on the reign of Hatshepsut and the early New Kingdom. The authors address a range of topics, including the phenomenon of innovation, the Egyptian worldview, politics, state administration, women’s issues and the use of gender, cult and rituals, mortuary practices, and architecture.

Groundbreaking for the study of Hatshepsut’s reign and the beginning of the Eighteenth Dynasty, this volume will become an important reference for scholars and lay readers interested in the history, culture, and archaeology of the time of Hatshepsut and the early New Kingdom.

Mapping Archaeological Landscapes from Space

Mapping Archaeological Landscapes from Space offers a concise overview of air and spaceborne imagery and related geospatial technologies tailored to the needs of archaeologists. Leading experts including scientists involved in NASA’s Space Archaeology program provide technical introductions to five sections: Historic Air and Spaceborne Imagery, Multispectral and Hyperspectral Imagery, Synthetic Aperture Radar, Lidar, Archaeological Site Detection and Modeling.

Each of these five sections includes two or more case study applications that have enriched understanding of archaeological landscapes in regions including the Near East, East Asia, Europe, Meso- and North America. Targeted to the needs of researchers and heritage managers as well as graduate and advanced undergraduate students, this volume conveys a basic technological sense of what is currently possible and, it is hoped, will inspire new pioneering applications.

Particular attention is paid to the tandem goals of research (understanding) and archaeological heritage management (preserving) the ancient past. The technologies and applications presented can be used to characterize environments, detect archaeological sites, model sites and settlement patterns and, more generally, reveal the dialectic landscape-scale dynamics among ancient peoples and their social and environmental surroundings.  In light of contemporary economic development and resultant damage to and destruction of archaeological sites and landscapes, applications of air and spaceborne technologies in archaeology are of wide utility and promoting understanding of them is a particularly appropriate goal at the 40th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention.​

The Textual Criticism of Sumerian Literature

The occurrence of textual variation is a significant but frequently neglected aspect of the study of Sumerian literary compositions. The correct evaluation of textual variants and the proper understanding of how and why they occur is essential to producing reliable editions of such texts. Such explorations also provide invaluable evidence for the written transmission of Sumerian literary works and a wealth of data for assessing aspects of Sumerian grammar. Drawing from a detailed analysis of the different types of textual variants that occur in the numerous duplicates of a group of ten compositions known collectively as the Decad, this book aims to provide a much needed critical methodology for interpreting textual variation in the Sumerian literary corpus which can be applied to editing and analysing these compositions with improved accuracy.

Sacred Killing

What is sacrifice? How can we identify it in the archaeological record? And what does it tell us about the societies that practice it? Sacred Killing: The Archaeology of Sacrifice in the Ancient Near East investigates these and other questions through the evidence for human and animal sacrifice in the Near East from the Neolithic to the Hellenistic periods. Drawing on sociocultural anthropology and history in addition to archaeology, the book also includes evidence from ancient China and a riveting eyewitness account and analysis of sacrifice in contemporary India, which engage some of the key issues at stake. Sacred Killing vividly presents a variety of methods and theories in the study of one of the most profound and disturbing ritual activities humans have ever practiced.

Perspectives on Ptolemaic Thebes

The manuscript consists of seven papers presented at the Theban Workshop, 2006. Within the temporal and spatial boundaries indicated by the title, the subjects of the papers are extremely diverse, ranging from models of culture-history (Manning and Moyer), to studies of specific administrative offices (Arlt), a single statue type (Albersmeier), inscriptions in a single temple (DiCerbo/Jasnow, and McClain), and inscriptions of a single king (Ritner). Nonetheless, all the papers are significant contributions to scholarship, presenting new interpretations and conclusions. Two papers (DiCerbo/Jasnow and McClain) are useful preliminary reports on long-term projects. The cross-references in Arlt and Albersmeiers and in Mannings and Moyers papers attest to value added by presentation at the workshop.

Sacred Space and Sacred Function in Ancient Thebes

This volume presents a series of papers delivered at a two-day session of the Theban Workshop held at the British Museum in September 2003. Due to its political and religious prominence throughout much of pharaonic history, the region of ancient Thebes offers scholars a wealth of monuments whose physical remains and extant iconography may be combined with textual sources and archaeological finds in ways that elucidate the function of sacred space as initially conceived, and which also reveal adaptations to human need or shifts in cultural perception. The contributions herein address issues such as the architectural framing of religious ceremony, the implicit performative responses of officiants, the diachronic study of specific rites, the adaptation of sacred space to different uses through physical, representational, or textual alteration, and the development of ritual landscapes in ancient Thebes.

After Collapse

From the Euphrates Valley to the southern Peruvian Andes, early complex societies have risen and fallen, but in some cases they have also been reborn. Prior archaeological investigation of these societies has focused primarily on emergence and collapse. This is the first book-length work to examine the question of how and why early complex urban societies have reappeared after periods of decentralization and collapse.

Ranging widely across the Near East, the Aegean, East Asia, Mesoamerica, and the Andes, these cross-cultural studies expand our understanding of social evolution by examining how societies were transformed during the period of radical change now termed “collapse.” They seek to discover how societal complexity reemerged, how second-generation states formed, and how these re-emergent states resembled or differed from the complex societies that preceded them.

The Ancient Egyptian Book of Thoth

=The composition, which the editors entitle the “Book of Thoth”, is preserved on over forty Graeco-Roman Period papyri from collections in Berlin, Copenhagen, Florence, New Haven, Paris, and Vienna. The central witness is a papyrus of fifteen columns in the Berlin Museum. Written almost entirely in the Demotic script, the Book of Thoth is probably the product of scribes of the “House of Life”, the temple scriptorium. It comprises largely a dialogue between a deity, usually called “He-who-praises-knowledge” (presumably Thoth himself) and a mortal, “He-who-loves-knowledge”. The work covers such topics as the scribal craft, sacred geography, the underworld, wisdom, prophecy, animal knowledge, and temple ritual. Particularly remarkable is one section (the “Vulture Text”) in which each of the 42 nomes of Egypt is identified with a vulture. The language is poetic; the lines are often clearly organized into verses. The subject-matter, dialogue structure, and striking phraseology raise many issues of scholarly interest; especially intriguing are the possible connections between this Egyptian work, in which Thoth is called “thrice-great”, and the classical Hermetic Corpus, in which Hermes Trismegistos plays the key role. The first volume comprises interpretative essays, discussion of specific points such as the manuscript tradition, script, and language. The core of the publication is the transliteration of the Demotic text, translation, and commentary. A consecutive translation, glossary, bibliography, and indices conclude the first volume. The second volume contains photographs of the papyri, almost all of which reproduce their original size.

The Archaeology of Syria

This book is the first comprehensive presentation of the archaeology of Syria from the end of the Paleolithic period to 300 BC. Although Syria has been the focus of intensive excavations for decades, no large-scale review of the results of these excavations has ever appeared until now. Syria is one of the prime areas of excavation and archaeological field work in the Middle East, and Peter Akkermans and Glenn Schwartz outline the many important finds yielded by Syria, before providing their own perspectives and conclusions.

The Quest for Immortality

This volume accompanies an exhibition of the same name, which includes artifacts from nearly 2000 years before the Christian era. Objects such as coffins, tombs, masks, jewellery, papyri, sarcophagi and monumental and small-scale sculpture reveal the reverence and awe with which the Egyptians considered the mystery of death. The essays in this book explore Egyptian art history, customs and worship, with specific focus on the Amduat, a book devoted to the pharaoh’s 12-hour journey to the afterlife. Additional writings detail the background of the collection and focus upon the role of art in ancient Egypt.

Writings from the Ancient World

Volumes in Writings from the Ancient World provide teachers, literary critics, historians, general readers, and students direct access to key ancient Near Eastern writings that date from the beginning of the Sumerian civilization to the age of Alexander the Great. Volumes typically offer historical and literary background to the writings, the original text and English translation, explanatory or textual notes, and a bibliography.

The SBL Press WAW editorial board is led by series editor Theodore J. Lewis.

Security for Debt in Ancient Near Eastern Law

Creditors have always sought the protection of the law to secure themselves against loss if the debtor cannot or will not pay the debt. This volume examines the legal instruments of security available to creditors in the earliest known legal systems, their use and abuse, and the ways in which the law sought to satisfy the differing interests of creditors, debtors, and society in general, with varying degrees of success. The book covers all the major legal systems of the ancient Near East, from Sumer to Ptolemaic Egypt, as well as comparative historical developments up to the present day. Twelve scholars have each contributed a study of their special period of expertise, while the general issues that arise from their research are discussed in a concluding chapter.

Ugaritic Narrative Poetry

More than 500 years before the Odyssey and the Iliad, before the biblical books of Genesis or Job, masters of the epic lived and wrote on the Mediterranean coast. The Ugaritic tablets left behind by these master scribes and poets were excavated in the second quarter of the 20th century from the region of modern Syria and Lebanon, and are brought to life here in contemporary English translations by five of the best known scholars in the field. Included are the major narrative poems, “Kirta,” “Aqhat,” and “Baal,” in addition to 10 shorter texts, newly translated with transcriptions from photographs using the latest techniques in the photography of epigraphic materials (sample plate included).

The Study of the Ancient Near East in the 21st Century

The book presents the publication of papers delivered at a conference held in 1991 at Johns Hopkins honoring the centennial of the birthday of William F. Albright, on the subject of the future of ancient Near Eastern Studies in the 21st century CE.  New ways of considering data, likely challenges to the field, and suggestions for new paths to follow are provided by scholars discussing a wide variety of ancient Near Eastern cultures, methods, and intellectual approaches.

Essays in Egyptology in honor of Hans Goedicke

Essays in Egyptology in honor of Hans Goedicke,​ edited by Betsy M. Bryan and David Lorton.

Archaeological Views From the Countryside

Working against the traditional focus of archaeology on the urban and elite, this volume presents a set of studies that focus on rural settlements and rural life during the formation and early history of urban societies in both the ancient Near East and Mesoamerica. The papers discuss the role that villages played in the development of urban societies, the emergence and character of social complexity in rural communities, and the changes in those communities during periods of urbanization.

Aménophis III le Pharaon Soleil

Published in conjunction with the exhibition to be held at: the Cleveland Museum of Art, July 1-September 27, 1992; Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, October 24, 1992-January 31, 1993; Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, March 2-May 31, 1993.

You Can Be a Woman Egyptologist

This booklet stresses the value of various academic studies (e.g., history, language, art, archaeology) as prerequisites for a career in Egyptology, by depicting real women whose careers provide inspirational role models. The first section is a text designed for use by elementary students and presents the career of Egyptology from a woman’s point of view. Both female and male students are encouraged to view Egyptology as a potential career choice. The second section provides the teacher with three lesson plans for classroom use. The lesson plans are aimed at exploring: (1) the processes involved in archaeology; (2) Egyptian art; and (3) the relationship between ancient Egyptian funerary practices and beliefs. Each lesson format includes a purpose or objective, materials, procedures, and conclusions.

Egypt’s Dazzling Sun

The fully illustrated catalogue of a major exhibition organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art in collaboration with the Reunion des Musees Nationaux, Paris, Egypt’s Dazzling Sun is an exceptional contribution to scholarship on the art and history of the reign of Amenhotep III (1391-1353 BC), the pharaoh who called himself the “Dazzling Sun Disk.” Ruling in a period of unprecedented peace, Amenhotep III commissioned splendid temples and sponsored royal workshops in many media. His aesthetic and technical innovations resound in the styles of his direct descendant, Tutankhamen, and in Egyptian art of all centuries. Comprehensive essays along with discussions of 143 objects, drawn from collections in the United States, Europe, and Egypt, offer a remarkably complete view of this golden age of Egyptian art. A range of new research methodologies assist in unveiling the remarkable variety and superb quality of the best work of Amenhotep III’s reign.

The Reign of Thutmose IV

Divides the reign into fourteen topics, covering demography, society, government, warfare, religion, ideas and the arts, to which are added a dedication and a unifying summary. The essays address three questions: What were things like prior to the reign of Louis XIV? What changes occurred during the reign? What did things look like after the reign? Bryan’s account of the reign of Thutmose IV, King of Egypt in the early 14th century BC, is derived largely from inscriptions and decorations found in temples and tombs. His reign is presented in six chapters on the length of his reign, his position as heir apparent before his accession, the female members of the royal family, royal monuments, people employed by Thutmose, and the major historical issues of his reign. Extensive bibliographies appear at the conclusion of each chapter. Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

A Ceramic Chronology from Tell Leilan

This book presents a detailed quantitative analysis of pottery from a 2000-year sequence of strata excavated at Tell Leilan in northeastern Syria, from the Ubaid period (ca. 4500 BC) to the mid-third millennium BC. Using statistical techniques and qualitative studies, the book sets forth a system of chronological periods and presents the characteristic pottery types of each, intended as a chronological framework for subsequent research in the region.