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The Sumerian Conjugation Prefixes as a System of Voice
The so-called Sumerian conjugation prefixes are the most poorly understood and perplexing elements of Sumerian verbal morphology. Approaching the problem from a functional-typological perspective and basing the analysis upon semantics, Professor Woods argues that these elements, in their primary function, constitute a system of grammatical voice, in which the active voice is set against the middle voice. The latter is represented by heavy and light markers that differ with respect to focus and emphasis. As a system of grammatical voice, the conjugation prefixes provided Sumerian speakers with a linguistic means of altering the perspective from which events may be viewed, giving speakers a series of options for better approximating in language the infinitely graded spectrum of human conceptualization and experience.

"Woods is to be commended for establishing a new precedent for analyzing Sumerian grammar which will hopefully become a model for future studies of the language."
Paul Delnero, Johns Hopkins University
In: Formbildung und Formbegriff
In: Öffnungen


The Sun-god’s particular patronage of the legendary first dynasty of Uruk is well documented in the Sumerian epic tradition, even as evidence for the veneration of the god in this city is minimal. It is argued here that the Sun-god’s special status is part of a broader network of relationships centering upon the goddess Inana, which sought to identify the kings—of Uruk and later of Ur—not only with her lover, Dumuzi, but also with her twin brother, Utu, thereby doubly affirming their bond with the patroness of Uruk. The equation of the ostensibly contradictory roles of lover and brother, a unity of opposites, motivates aspects of the imagery and metaphorical language of the Uruk I epic cycle.

In: Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions
In: Öffnungen


Religious practices centered on controlled trance states, such as Siberian shamanism or North African zar, are ubiquitous, yet their characteristics vary. In particular, cross-cultural research finds that female-dominated spirit possession cults are common in stratified societies, whereas male-dominated shamanism predominates in structurally flatter cultures. Here, we present an agent-based model that explores factors, including social stratification and psychological dissociation, that may partially account for this pattern. We posit that, in more stratified societies, female agents suffer from higher levels of psychosocial trauma, whereas male agents are more vulnerable in flatter societies. In societies with fewer levels of formal hierarchy, males come into informal social competition more regularly than in stratified contexts. This instability leads to a cultural feedback effect in which dissociative experiences deriving from chronic psychosocial stress become canalized into a male religious trance role. The model reproduces these patterns under plausible parameter configurations.

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture
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Zur Theorie und Geschichte der Zeichnung
Within the broad range of the history, religion, society, and literature of the ancient Near East, titles in this series may treat an individual text or a topic that extends across a variety of texts and other sources. While the text or topic often has to do with the Hebrew Bible and ancient Israel, it can focus on other ancient Near Eastern cultures. Published volumes may be revised doctoral dissertations or other scholarly works of comparable importance.

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