From “Kingship in Heaven” to King Lists: Syro-Anatolian Courts and the History of the World

in Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions
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I examine the literary and conceptual background of a Hurro-Hittite ritual calling on divinized royal ancestors (dšarrena), characters from Hurro-Hittite song, members of the Sargonic dynasty, a variety of kings from far-off lands, and the “lord of Hatti” (KUB 27.38). I show that the ritual provides a unique glimpse of the complex Near Eastern tradition telling the history of the world from its beginning. The ritual also helps us to understand how historical memory informed ritual behaviors that legitimated the kingship of regional rulers, allowing them access to the distant past and connecting them to world events. Overall, the šarrena ritual suggests that the histories of the divine and human worlds were linked into a single master narrative by the middle of the second millennium BCE.

From “Kingship in Heaven” to King Lists: Syro-Anatolian Courts and the History of the World

in Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions



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  • 29

    KUB 31.3 (translit. Salvini and Wegner 2004: 37–8No. 6 discussion p. 17).

  • 30

    KUB 27.38 (translit. Haas and Wegner 1988: 384–90No. 87 discussion pp. 25–6). Important discussions appear in Houwink ten Cate (1992: 110–11) de Martino (1993) and Wilhelm (2003). On the šarrena ritual also see J. G. Westenholz (1998: 10). Some parts of the ritual’s instructions were not translated out of Hurrian (de Martino 1993: 125) implying that the text has gone through some kind of redaction process converting it from a wholly Hurrian text to one in which the instructions are in Hittite with the incantations in Hurrian. The performer explicitly refers to the performance as song (SIR3išḫamiškimi i 18’); see de Martino (1993: 131–2) on the poetic technique.

  • 41

    See Assmann (2003) on the manipulation of collective memory of a shared past to create a group identity.


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