The Politics of Ritual Change

The zukru Festival in the Political History of Late Bronze Age Emar


In The Politics of Ritual Change: The zukru Festival in the Political History of Late Bronze Age Emar, John Thames explores the intersection of ritual and politics in ancient Syria. The cuneiform texts describing an elaborate festival called zukru invite the reader to consider the development of the ritual as a result of political influence. This book suggests a new understanding of the relationship between the Hittite Empire and the city of Emar that is best observed through religious texts.

The Harvard Semitic Monographs series publishes volumes from the Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East. Other series offered by Brill that publish volumes from the Museum include Harvard Semitic Studies and Studies in the Archaeology and History of the Levant,

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John Tracy Thames, Jr., Ph.D. (2016), Johns Hopkins University, is Assistant Professor of Religion at Clemson University. His publications include articles on ritual and religion in the ancient Near East and the Hebrew Bible.
Preface and Acknowledgements
List of Abbreviations
List of Abbreviations for Texts from Emar and its Vicinity
List of Tables

part 1: The City of Emar and Its zukru Rituals

1 Introduction to the City of Emar
 1 Archaeological Excavations at Tell Meskeneh
 2 The Archives of Emar
 3 Emar’s Scribal Distinctions

2 The zukru Ritual: The City’s Offering to Dagan
 1 Texts and Translations: Emar 375+ 397 + 401 + 428 + 448* + 449*
 2 The zukru Ritual of the City of Emar
 3 Gods and Men in the zukru Ritual
 4 The Performance of the zukru Ritual

3 The zukru Festival: Expansion of Local Traditions
 1 Texts and Translations: Emar 373 + 374 + 376 + 424 + 425 + Dercksen Kaskal No. 3
 2 Textual and Philological Notes
 3 The zukru Ritual in its Festival Version
 4 zukru Festival Divinity
 5 The Ritual Transaction: Donations to the Gods
 6 The Sponsors of the zukru Festival
 7 The Provisioning of the zukru Festival
 8 The Performance of the zukru in Its Festival Form

4 Part 1 Conclusion: The zukru Traditions
 1 The Meaning of the Word “zukru”
 2 The zukru Rituals: A Synthetic View

part 2: Politics and Rituals

5 Emar in the Late Bronze Age: History, Politics, and Chronology
 1 The Question of Emar’s Relationship to Mittani
 2 Local Politics of Emar: The Conventional Format Documentation
 3 The Hittite Conquest of North Syria
 4 The Role of Hittite Karkamiš in Emar Politics: Evidence of the Free Format Documentation
 5 The Relationship between Local and Foreign Authorities: Chronological Considerations and Political Change

6 Politics, Power, and the zukru Festival
 1 The King and the zukru Festival
 2 zukru Practice under Hittite Aegis
 3 Hittite Involvement in Emar’s Cults
 4 Cults of Anatolian Deities at Emar
 5 The Hittite Interest in Emar’s Cults
 6 Historical Context and the Dating of the zukru Texts

7 Conclusion: Power, Politics, and Change in the zukru Rituals


Index of Ancient Texts

Index of Authors
Readers of ancient Near Eastern religion, Hittite Empire, Late Bronze Syria, and comparative biblical studies. Specialist audience in Assyriology and Hebrew Bible, graduate students, and academic libraries.