What’s New in Ancient Archives? Part I: The Ancient Near East

(Peer reviewed)

Over a decade ago, James O’Toole looked “Back to the Future” from Ernst Posner’s pioneering work of the 1970s on “Archives in the Ancient World”, all the way to “Ancient Archives and Archival Traditions,” edited by Maria Brosius in 2003.[1] The following review essay is the first part of a series that attempts to outline the scholarly discourse since the publication of Brosius’ volume by surveying the recent publications in the field. The goal is to cover a representative mix of broader approaches and more detailed case studies to give the interested reader the macro and the micro perspective on the study of ancient archival practice. This first part is dedicated to a selection of publications on ancient Near Eastern archives.[2]


In the following survey, we will see how the study of ancient archives has become a truly interdisciplinary field in which scholars still strive for terminological consistency, where familiar dichotomies such as public vs. private and library vs. archive are put into question, and in which library and archival theory are put to work in the field of Assyriology towards a more nuanced understanding of ancient tablet collections in relationship to their functional contexts. For the outlined purpose, we should briefly revisit Brosius’ volume as a starting and reference point before we turn our attention to Jacob Lauinger’s “Archival Practices at Old Babylonian/Middle Bronze Age Alalakh (Level VII),” followed by Grègory Chambon’s “Les archives du vin à Mari” and finally to Jaqueline du Toit’s “Textual Memory: Ancient Archives, Libraries and the Hebrew Bible.”[3]

Brosius’ edition grew out of a workshop held at Oxford in September 1998. A group of experts from various fields (Assyriology and Classics, mainly) acknowledged Posner’s work as “still unsurpassed” for a general introduction to the study of ancient archives. At the same time, they saw the need to address “questions of formal aspects of creating, writing, and storing ancient documents, of copying and adapting archival systems across a wider geographical space and extensive period of time.” One of the greatest merits of Brosius’ volume was its call for a standardized terminology across disciplines, a kind of “Urkundenlehre [diplomatics] for ancient documents.”[4] Detailed maps, though not without flaws, help the reader navigate the expansive geography of the various locations.[5]

“Ancient Archives and Archival Traditions” provides an interesting mix of surveys and case studies in which scholars asked definitional questions such as, “What constitutes an ancient archive? What was the difference between an archive and a storeroom of documents?” Other issues included the particular meaning(s) of the term ‘archives’ in an ancient context, the selection processes for archiving, why certain documents were transferred from older to newer archives, when and why certain archives were abandoned, and the difference between public and private archives.[6]

One of the common threads amongst the findings proved to be the unsustainability of the modern distinction between public and private archives.[7] In the ancient Near East, many archives found in private households contained official documents (or at least copies thereof) while Classical Greece also saw the deposit of documents by private citizens in its official archives. Another important insight from the workshop’s discussion is that there was indeed a distinction between current and archived records in many societies of the ancient world (contra Posner).[8]

“The classical world,” we also learn, “tends to apply the term ‘archives’ to collections of legal documents and decrees. By contrast, ancient Near Eastern archives were concerned with the documentation, processing, and storage of predominantly economic texts.”[9] This geographic distinction in turn, as was indicated by multiple contributors to this volume, may very well be due to the use of different writing materials for different purposes.[10]  What we know about Greek archives, for example, we usually know from published material, that is from inscriptions (epigraphy). The whole world of economic records that dominates the cuneiform texts from the Near East was, in Greece, most likely represented on perishable media and these records – just as their Mesopotamian counterparts – were never meant for eternity and it was merely the choice of physical carrier that decided the fate of those records. Political decisions and legal texts, on the other hand, which dominate our notion of Greek (and Roman) archives were supposedly considered library material in the ancient Near East.

As John Davies points out, in Greece, important documents were not only archived but inscribed on a stele and made public. Protection by the law needed accessibility to the law and the law itself needed protection from unauthorized alteration through the public eye in the political centers, such as Athens’ old market place (Agora), or through the divine powers, which accounts for the frequent construction of stelai in a sanctuary.[11] Davies also offers a satisfying explanation for the deposition of private documents in public archives: The content of these documents were always a concern for the polis as a whole because they conveyed property rights and taxes, or indicated the legal status of ex-slaves.[12]

Agreement on the use of homogenous terminology was one of the major goals of the  scholarly workshop, but it was not always achieved. One interesting example was the distinction of types of archives as Brosius herself recognizes: Fales distinguishes between ‘living’, ‘dead’, and ‘silent’ archives—those found in situ and intact were ‘living’, those found in situ but disturbed were ‘dead’, and those without any known context were ‘silent’. For Veenhof, on the other hand, a ‘dead’ archive consisted of records that have gone out of use in the ‘living’ archive, while Baker treats documents from illicit digs still as ‘living’ archives. Van Lerberghe applies the term ‘active’ to an archive that has been abandoned at some point.[13]

Another great merit of Brosius’ edited volume to be mentioned here is the attempt to apply a standard definition of ancient archives to Near Eastern as well as to Classical archives. As Brosius claims: “Archives are first a physical space within a public space (palace or temple complex, public archive) or within a private building or private complex of buildings, and second a collection of stored documents. […] A collection of records reflects a deliberate choice or selection of documents.”[14] What Posner alone attempted in his landmark publication – a comparative study of ancient archival practice – has become a fruitful dialogue across disciplines the most comprehensive manifest of which is still Brosius’ “Ancient Archives and Archival Traditions: Concepts of Record-Keeping in the Ancient World.”

Another major study of ancient Near Eastern archives can be found in Jacob Lauinger’s 2007 dissertation, “Archival Practices at Old Babylonian/Middle Bronze Age Alalakh (Level VII)”, which reconstructs the archival practices at the cuneiform tablet repositories at Alalakh, an ancient city circa 30 kilometers northwest of Antioch (modern Antakya in Turkey), which covered the period of roughly 1750-1650 BCE, and attempts to put them into the larger context of cuneiform record-keeping during the Bronze Age.[15] Following the ‘archival approach’ in Assyriology, Lauinger borrows from modern archival and economic theory in order to understand the distribution of tablets across the excavated part of the city (mainly the temple and palace complex) and the underlying administrative principles.

The study identifies three distinct repositories: one was found behind the palace’s “Chamber of Audience,” mainly concerned with incoming and outgoing goods.[16] The second one (though presumably also part of the palace administration) was located in the temple and was mainly concerned with the distribution of silver. As in other ancient societies, the temple served as the city’s silver repository. Both archives, according to Lauinger, were not independent units but integral parts of their respective offices and of the storage facilities which these offices administered. This argument supports Lauinger’s observation that a proper Akkadian term for ‘archive’ was absent. In his subchapter “An Akkadian word for “archive?”, he shows that the term bīt ṭuppim (“house of tablets”) always refers to either a ‘school’ or a ‘general storeroom,’ but never a record collection per se. Short-term administrative records stayed with the commodities they were documenting and were discarded afterwards. For Alalakh’s palace administration, Lauinger reconstructs a record lifecycle of 6 to 27 months.[17]

The third repository, however, represents a different case. Located in the basement of the palace, it consisted of three successive rooms accessible through one door only and containing some administrative and almost all of the legal documents (titles of ownership, etc.) found in Alalakh.[18] As this seems to have been the safe-room of the palace, tablets stored there together with other precious items were considered of long-term and fungible value.[19] In our case, this refers to tablets documenting the ownership of real estate that could be sold, outstanding debt that could be claimed.

Certain administrative texts such as debt lists (‘Sammeltafeln’) were kept in the basement because their content was associated with the legal documents.[20] The administrative tablets in the basement, according to Lauinger, must have been of a special nature. These tablets are older and, in the case of the silver-disbursement tablets, recorded particularly large expenses. He concludes that these survived the usual record cycle due to their extraordinary documentary value and identifies the basement as the general destination for long-term storage.[21] Lauinger is hereby reconstructing ancient archival practices that distinguished – to put it in modern archival terminology – office records from actual archives which preserved material of value beyond their original purpose. He reminds us, however, that the users and caretakers of this archival material perceived the tablets primarily as an integral part of a larger collection of items kept together in a relatively safe storage facility such as the basement store rooms of the palace at Alalakh.

The repositories of Alalakh might interest the archives historian, but also Lauinger’s more general discussion of ancient Near Eastern archival concepts and practices. He challenges Pedersén’s distinction of ancient archives being “collections of documents and libraries [being] collections of literary texts” (Erica Reiner).[22]  And just like Jaqueline du Toit (see below), he questions the benefits of descriptive terminology such as Pedersén’s “archive with library”/ “library with archive” when the actual organization of these collections does not really reflect any such distinction:

In fact, literary texts seem to have been used within a professional context by these individuals, either in the performance of, for example, hymns, omens, or apotropaic rituals, or in teaching their specialties, which involved writing and reading cuneiform, to apprentices. Therefore, we should further question whether it is correct to use ‘literariness’ as a distinguishing characteristic, for the indigenous users of these tablets do not seem to have done so. For them, a literary text served a function just as did a loan contract or a list of prebends.[23]

Following Jursa’s distinction of ‘living’ archives (“found more or less just as the archive holder used it”) and ‘dead’ archives (documents of no immediate importance), Lauinger categorizes the Alalakh archives as ‘living’ archives accordingly[24], which would be in line with Fales’ use of the term while Veenhof, as shown above, would probably categorize the basement storeroom as a ‘dead’ archive.  Lauinger admits in a footnote that (probably with his basement archive in mind) he would rather “follow van den Hout in distinguishing a third situation, the ‘historical’ archive, which consists of tablets that have been selected out of an archive but have been preserved for possible reference.”[25] We see, therefore, that the Assyriologists’ archival terminology was still under negotiation in 2007.

In 2009, Grégory Chambon published the wine related tablets from the vast and famous archives of ancient Mari’s royal palace titled “Les archives du vin à Mari.” Mari was an ancient city (and kingdom) situated at the Euphrates river in northern Mesopotamia, now modern Syria, 50 km north of the Iraqi border. Mari was ideally situated between the cultures of the Levantine and those of Middle and Southern Mesopotamia and flourished roughly from the 24th to the 18th century BCE until the reign of its last king, Zimrî-Lîm, when the city was overtaken by king Hammurabi of Babylon and razed to the ground. Due to the sudden and total destruction of the city, French excavation teams have, since the 1930s, been able to uncover a whole system of archives in situ, yielding as many as 25,000 tablets and fragments (mostly administrative texts and letters) the majority of which document Zimrî-Lîm’s fourteen years of rule before the city’s demise. This makes Mari one of the best documented cities in the ancient Near East.[26]

A specialist study in many regards, Chambon’s volume comprises the edition, translation, and analysis of 190 texts, now in the Museum in Dêr ez-Zôr, Syria. Of these texts, 119 had not yet been edited, while fifteen wine-related letters were reedited. The majority of the tablets, as may be expected, are administrative in nature (mostly receipts).[27] Clearly addressed to a small group of specialists, this publication wastes no time with any kind of general introduction to the kingdom of Mari or the excavation situation of the palace. A reader less familiar with the matter would have, therefore, a hard time following when the author discusses potential archives locations. Maps and/or floor plans would have been valuable guides as well.

The application of the term ‘archive’ in the title may also raise vain hopes in an audience more interested in archives history. In contrast to the nature of the other three publications discussed here, Chambon’s work is not so much an analysis of the wine archives as organic units in the vein of Brosius, Veenhof, du Toit, and others, but rather a synopsis of information on wine management gathered from tablets that may have once formed a corpus of administrative documentation of the wine management processes at Mari.

Unlike Lauinger’s case study, this work does not try to distinguish between current records and long-term archival storage facilities, all of which may be due to an unsatisfying documentation situation. Chambon at least mentions different kinds of documents: besides the aforementioned basic receipts, there are summary lists that can easily be recognized due to their long and rectangular shape (covering multiple days or months) as well as general summaries (“récapitulatifs géneraux”) which integrate the intermediate summaries (“récapitulatifs intermédiaires”), listing also administrative activities and the personnel involved, representing the complete holdings at any given moment.[28]

There were wine storage facilities outside and inside the palace complex at Mari. Within the latter we can distinguish between a depot in the smaller palace located at the Euphrates river, one in the large palace, and one in the temple of Bêlet-ekallim which is also attested as a place for various treatments of the wine (“diverses manipulations du vin”).[29] There is evidence that the depots were arranged by wine origin. Chambon emphasizes, however, that there was no “bureau du vin” as a separate office with autonomous storage facilities. Wine management in Mari was always part of a bigger operation of storage management. The depot in the small palace, for example, was managed by Yataraya, one of the wives of King Zimrî-Lîm.[30]

Much more can be learned from this study about the history of wine making and management, which is, unfortunately, outside the scope of the archives historian, so we leave it at that.

The last book to be discussed here is a true crossover study in many regards: Trained in Ancient Near Eastern Studies as well as in Library and Information Science, Jaqueline du Toit brings her combined expertise to the 2011 monograph, “Textual Memory: Ancient Archives, Libraries and the Hebrew Bible.”[31] Merging archival and library theory with ancient history, du Toit (like Lauinger) draws attention to the established, but misleading, dichotomy of ancient library vs. archival collections.

The book starts out with a survey of the scholarship on ancient Near Eastern libraries and archives, stressing the “pervasive terminological inconsistency and resultant confusion in defining the ancient textual entities and textual assemblies.”[32] Du Toit’s main point of critique is the iconic status of the libraries of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh and of the Ptolemies at Alexandria, a paradigm that was cemented during the twentieth century by the works of Morris Jastrow and his intellectual successors.  In du Toit’s view, qualifying these two universal collections as the epitome of the ‘true’ library automatically disqualifies the great majority of other textual deposits as ‘just’ archival. She exposes the modern bias of older scholarship as implying an information hierarchy with the refined literary and cultural content clearly deemed superior to the crude routine economic transactions that dominate the content of the clay tablets. Du Toit also criticizes the assumed evolution of repository organization from primitive to sophisticated – witnessed, for example, in the work of Mogens Weitemeyer – as too simplistic.[33]

To correct the old perception and interpretation of the ancient Near East’s textual deposits, du Toit takes Klaas Veenhof’s ‘archival approach’ to ancient tablet collections based on the archival principles of original order and provenance one step further. She calls for a “blanket inclusion of all textual entities under the generalized and impartial designation ‘textual deposits’ or ‘textual assemblies.’”[34] Within the framework of information theory she wants to shift the focus to the information continuum away from the rigid dichotomy of content to the processes of information management, which can accommodate the whole spectrum of archives, libraries, genizas, building and foundation deposits and other forms of textual evidence all in their own right and their relationships to each other.[35] Following Jan Assmann’s identification of small collections of 42 books as the ‘core- and reference-libraries’ of ancient Egypt, du Toit postulates the same kind of highly selective collection as the norm for Mesopotamian and potentially Hebrew temple libraries (contra Jastrow). They, and not the “freakish anomalies” of Nineveh and Alexandria, provided the canon of relevant and normative knowledge in an easily manageable, accessible and transferable way. Ridding ourselves from the standard of the Alexandrian Library, according to du Toit, allows for the continuing discovery of more or less the same ‘secular canon’ (Nahum Sarna) of Old-Babylonian texts in later contexts.[36]

It might be owed to the fact that this book is based on her dissertation from 2002 that du Toit was unable to take notice of Brosius’ edited volume, which would have provided even more material for discussion. Students of library and archives history as well as Bible scholars and Assyriologists will, nevertheless, appreciate du Toit’s stimulating study of her subject. In the context of this essay I would like to highlight in particular chapter four, “Use and Assignment of Meaning: Archives and Adjunct Textual Deposits” (pp. 79-124), which can also be read as a short but concise history of Near Eastern archives scholarship.

The study of ancient Near Eastern archives as I could show in my discussion of Brosius’ edition as well as of Lauinger’s, Chambon’s, and du Toit’s monographs has become a multidisciplinary field in which not only archivists like Posner embarked to uncharted territory but also Assyriologists as well as Bible scholars in turn appropriate library and archival theory to deepen their understanding of their subjects.

The quest for terminological consistency in the classification of archives is an important one as is the developed caution towards apparently rather modern concepts such as private and public archives (Lauinger, Brosius). Another important development is the new sensitivity towards Near Eastern textual deposits in general. Du Toit’s whole book can be read as an elaboration on Lauinger’s critique on the traditional distinction of library vs. archival texts that dominated twentieth century scholarship.

It will be interesting to see how the findings of the discussed archives scholarship will interact with the views of Eleanor Robson, who quite recently argued for the existence of an ancient Near Eastern library concept as a storeroom and collection of scholarly works captured in the term gerkinakku, and who also perceives Ashurbanipal’s library as a particularly large one in a whole system of Ezidas, such as the Kalhu Ezida. The latter was an “Assyrian royal temple [… where] royal advisors worked in kin-based groups, supported by direct and institutional patronage from the king. Here […] the emphasis was on omens, incantations and ritual to provide divinely authorised guidance to the crown.”[37] The significantly smaller size of the other collections discussed by Robson might support du Toit’s speculations about the standard size of ancient Middle Eastern libraries.

If we now take into consideration, however, that besides the scholarly literature a smaller but not insignificant part of the tablet collections in these Ezidas was made up of medical recipes we feel forced to repeat Lauinger’s question “whether it is correct to use ‘literariness’ as a distinguishing characteristic [of libraries vs. archives], for the indigenous users of these tablets do not seem to have done so. For them, a literary text served a function just as did a loan contract or a list of prebends,”[38] or a treatise on divination or a medical recipe, we might add. Is du Toit right, therefore, in her call for the abandonment of the old content-based category dichotomy in favor of a new focus on the information processes in the study of ancient near eastern textual deposits? New scholarship will hopefully address this important question.

Tablet collections, as we have learned, were always perceived as integral parts of a larger whole (an administrative office, a temple operation, or a collection of items with perceived long-term value). Veenhof’s ‘archival approach’ is shining through in this focus on collections as organic entities, that is on their development, function and context. This, in turn, will hopefully impact the writing of future library and archives histories and put into perspective the all-dominating and all-obscuring Alexandria paradigm.

— Sebastian Modrow, Ph.D.

Sebastian Modrow is an assistant archivist at the Special Collections Research Center of Syracuse University. He holds a Ph.D. in Ancient History from the University of Rostock (Germany) and an MLIS from Syracuse University.



Brosius, Maria. “Ancient Archives and Concepts of Record-Keeping: An Introduction.” In Ancient Archives and Archival Traditions: Concepts of Record-Keeping in the Ancient World, edited by Maria Brosius, 1-16. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Brosius, Maria, ed., Ancient Archives and Archival Traditions: Concepts of Record-Keeping in the Ancient World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Chambon, Grégory. Les archives du vin à Mari. Florilegium marianum XI, Paris: NABU, 2009.

Brill’s New Pauly Online, s.v. “Mari,” by Dominique Charpin, accessed December 14 2017, http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1574-9347_bnp_e723510.

Davies, John K. “Greek Archives: From Record to Monument.” In Ancient Archives and Archival Traditions: Concepts of Record-Keeping in the Ancient World, edited by Maria Brosius, 323-343. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Du Toit, Jaqueline S. Textual Memory: Ancient Archives, Libraries and the Hebrew Bible. Sheffield: Sheffield Press, 2011.

Fales, Mario. “Reflections on Neo-Assyrian Archives.” In Ancient Archives and Archival Traditions: Concepts of Record-Keeping in the Ancient World, edited by Maria Brosius, 195-229. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Lauinger, Jacob. “Archival Practices at Old Babylonian/Middle Bronze Age Alalakh (Level VII).” PhD diss., University of Chicago, 2007, accessed July 25, 2017, https://search-proquest-com.libezproxy2.syr.edu/docview/304792215?pq-origsite=summon.

O’Toole, James. “Back to the Future: Ernst Posner’s Archives in the Ancient World.” The American Archivist 67, no. 2 (2004): 161-175.

Palaima, Thomas. “’Archives’ and ‘Scribes’ and Information Hierarchy in Mycenean Greek Linear B Records.” In Ancient Archives and Archival Traditions: Concepts of Record-Keeping in the Ancient World, edited by Maria Brosius, 153-194. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Posner, Ernst. Archives in the Ancient World. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1972.

Robson, Eleanor. “Reading the libraries of Assyria and Babylonia.” In Ancient Libraries, edited by Jason König, Katerina Oikonomopoulou and Greg Woolf, 38-56. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Van Lerberghe, Karel. “The Ur-Utu Archive at Sippar-Amnanum (Tell ed-Dēr).” In Ancient Archives and Archival Traditions: Concepts of Record-Keeping in the Ancient World, edited by Maria Brosius, 59-77. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Veenhof, Klaas R. “Archives of Old Assyrian Traders.” In Ancient Archives and Archival Traditions: Concepts of Record-Keeping in the Ancient World, edited by Maria Brosius, 78-123. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.



[1] James O’Toole, “Back to the Future: Ernst Posner’s Archives in the Ancient World,” The American Archivist 67, no. 2 (2004): 161-175; Ernst Posner, Archives in the Ancient World (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1972); Maria Brosius, ed., Ancient Archives and Archival Traditions: Concepts of Record-Keeping in the Ancient World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003).

[2] I would like to thank Shauna Modrow, Brett Barrie, the editors of the Archival History News and the blind reviewer for their valuable comments on various drafts of this essay.

[3] Jacob Lauinger, “Archival Practices at Old Babylonian/Middle Bronze Age Alalakh (Level VII)” (PhD diss., University of Chicago, 2007); Grégory Chambon, Les archives du vin à Mari. Florilegium marianum XI, (Paris: NABU, 2009); Jaqueline S. du Toit, Textual Memory: Ancient Archives, Libraries and the Hebrew Bible. (Sheffield: Sheffield Press, 2011).

[4] Maria Brosius, “Ancient Archives and Concepts of Record-Keeping: An Introduction,” in Ancient Archives and Archival Traditions: Concepts of Record-Keeping in the Ancient World, ed. Maria Brosius (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 1-3.

[5] The volume provides a convenient map of “sites of archives referred to in the volume” on page XXI, though it is missing Pylos, the main object of Thomas Palaima’s paper (“’Archives’ and ‘Scribes’ and Information Hierarchy in Mycenean Greek Linear B Records,” in Ancient Archives, ed. Maria Brosius (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 153-194), for some reason. Pylos’ location can be found, however, on Palaima’s Fig. 8.4 (“The Mycenaean mainland in the palatial period”, Shelmerdine 1997: 538, fig. 1) on page 160.

[6] Brosius, “An Introduction,” 2 and 4.

[7] Brosius, “An Introduction,” 4.

[8] Cf. Posner, Archives, 4-5.

[9] Brosius, “An Introduction,” 5.

[10] While organic materials decay or burn in case of a fire, clay tablets stay intact and are even better preserved through baking in a fire. Cf. Brosius, “An Introduction,” 10.

[11] John K. Davies, “Greek Archives: From Record to Monument,” in Ancient Archives and Archival Traditions: Concepts of Record-Keeping in the Ancient World, ed. Maria Brosius (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 337-338.

[12] Davies, “Greek Archives,” 332.

[13] Mario Fales, “Reflections on Neo-Assyrian Archives,” in Ancient Archives and Archival Traditions: Concepts of Record-Keeping in the Ancient World, ed. Maria Brosius (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003),  197; Klaas R. Veenhof, “Archives of Old Assyrian Traders,” in Ancient Archives and Archival Traditions: Concepts of Record-Keeping in the Ancient World, ed. Maria Brosius (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 105; Karel Van Lerberghe, “The Ur-Utu Archive at Sippar-Amnanum (Tell ed-Dēr),” in Ancient Archives and Archival Traditions: Concepts of Record-Keeping in the Ancient World, ed. Maria Brosius (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 59; Brosius, “An Introduction,” 7.

[14] Brosius, “An Introduction,” 10.

[15] Lauinger, Archival Practices, 2.

[16] Lauinger, Archival Practices, 282-283.

[17] Lauinger, Archival Practices, 44-46, 285-286.

[18] The only exception being the legal documents of Talma-Ammu, head of the deposit behind the “Chamber of Audience,” who kept his tablets in the office he presumably headed.

[19] The concept of ‘fungibility’ Lauinger borrowed from the economist Hernando de Soto as referring to the quality or potential of an asset to be turned into capital. Lauinger, “Archival Practices,” 51 with reference to Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else (New York: Basic Books, 2000) 56ff.

[20] Lauinger, Archival Practices, 208 and 237.

[21] Lauinger, Archival Practices, 277. See also du Toit’s discussion of the history of the Jewish geniza (Textual Memory, 115-119) regarding these Near Eastern store rooms with archival function.

[22] Lauinger, Archival Practices, 23-24 citing Olof Pedersén, Archives and Libraries in the Ancient Near East 1500-300 B.C., (Bethesda, MD: CDL Press, 1998), 3 and Erica Reiner, “First-Millennium Babylonian Literature,” in The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. 3, part 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 294. The changes in brackets are my own.

[23] Lauinger, Archival Practices, 25.

[24] Lauinger, Archival Practices, 40, 42-43 referring to Michael Jursa, Neo-Babylonian Legal and Administrative Documents: Typology, Consents and Archives. Guides to the Mesopotamian Textual Record, no. 1. (Münster: Ugarit-Verlag, 2005), 58.

[25] Lauinger, Archival Practices, 40, fn. 40 referring to Theo van den Hout, “On the Nature of the Tablet Collections of Jattusa,” Studi micenei ed egeo-anatolici 47 (2005): 5.

[26] Brill’s New Pauly Online, s.v. “Mari” (by Dominique Charpin), http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1574-9347_bnp_e723510 (accessed 14 December 2017).

[27] Chambon, Archives du vin, 2.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Chambon, Archives du vin, 21 and 25-26.

[30] Chambon, Archives du vin, 30.

[31] The book is based on her dissertation from 2002.

[32] Du Toit, Textual Memory, 152.

[33] Du Toit, Textual Memory, 4-5, 22-23 and 90. Of particular relevance in this context is Jastrow’s “Did the Babylonian Temples Have Libraries?” Journal of the American Oriental Society 27 (1906): 147-182. Weitemeyer summarized the findings of his Babylonske og Assyriske arkiver og biblioteker (Studier fra Sprog- og Oldtidsforskning 227; Copenhagen: Branner og Korchs, 1955) in his 1956 article “Archive and Library Technique in Ancient Mesopotamia,” Libri 6, no. 3, 217-238.

[34] Du Toit, Textual Memory, 153. Out of the Netherlands came, after WWII, a new model most associated with the name Klaas Veenhof. Drawing greatly from the principles of the Dutch Manual, Veenhof promulgated an ‘archival approach’ to ancient tablet collections based on the archival principles of original order and provenance, both summed up in archival theory’s respect des fonds. Veenhof claimed nothing less than a pervasive application of archives management principles to the description and interpretation of ancient textual deposits.  This shifts the focus from the content of the individual tablet to its place within the larger collection and its context. He also later adopted the North-American concept of record life cycles, which distinguishes a record phase from an archival phase (with up to four sub-phases each), the great threshold being the act of archival accessioning or record disposal. See also du Toit, Textual Memory, 33-34, 88-91 and 99 with reference to Jay Atherton, “From Life Cycle to Continuum: Some Thoughts on the Records Management-Archives Relationship”, in Canadian Archival Studies and the Rediscovery of Provenance, ed. Tom Nesmith (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1993), 392-93.

[35] Du Toit, Textual Memory, 102-105.

[36] Du Toit, Textual Memory, 62-63, 70, 151-153 referencing Nahum M. Sarna, “The Order of the Books,” in Studies in Jewish Bibliography, History and Literature in Honor of I. Edward Kiev, ed. Charles Berlin (New York: Ktav, 1971), p. 409 on page 62.

[37] Eleanor Robson, “Reading the Libraries of Assyria and Babylonia,” in Ancient Libraries, ed. Jason König, Katerina Oikonomopoulou and Greg Woolf (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 55. For gerkinakku as the Assyrian library equivalent see page 41 and for her speculations about the Assyrian Ezida system p. 48.

[38] Lauinger, Archival Practices, 25.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: