Who was king? Who was not king? Elites and commoners in the ancient Near East
• (Principal) Investigator:
doc. PhDr. Petr Charvát, DrSc.
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• Realization:
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• Keywords:
ancient Near East, social hierarchy

This project will target relations between elites and commoners in social centres of the ancient Near East. By about 1500 B.C., the area´s states experienced most of the forms of government known to subsequent human history. It appears that the particular relation between the elites and commoners of each and every state determined, to a great extent, its durability, dependability and cohesion.We intend to address this issue in order to understand better the modes of reaching political consensus, and thus to explain the viability of long-lasting political configurations in the ancient Near East where a number of polities held together, for better or worse, for thousands of years. This multidisciplinary project will pool the efforts of research teams of Prague, Pilsen, Vinna and Munich. In the project´s third year, the research results of the individual teams over the first two years will be presented at a conference in Prague. We also intend to publish a conference volume.

Fig. 1. Every Mesopotamian king was above all entitled to protect his people against any enemies. Administrative sealing of king Mesannepada of Ur (2563-2524 BC).

Fig. 2. Sumerian temples, a sort of ‘buffer institution’, were regularly used for of social stresses and tensions within the ancient Sumerian society. Sealing from archaic Ur (28th century BC).

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