Old Testament Backgrounds



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Temple: comment…In its long history, the Temple was a unique institution for which there is no exact contemporary counterpart. At a later date, the Temple was a helpful source for the king’s military. It field archers, cavalry and chariot crews which fought as a unit on behalf of the king’s professional army. Its military could “accompany the king, guard temple precincts, do police work, protect laborers performing earthworks, guard temple flocks, round up fugitives, and provide escorts for the delivery of materials, taxes, cultic equipment, delegations, merchants and carpenters sent of Lebanon.” See John MacGinnis, The Arrows of the Sun: Armed Forces in Sippar in the First Millennium BC. Babylonische Archive 4 (2012). The functionality of all of this is starkly different from anything in the modern world-there was a symbiotic relationship between the cult and the court that is both intimate and inter-reliant. One wonders how much of this highly structured but indigenous religio-social phenomena can be replicated in the highly organized state the OT pictures on behalf of Solomon?

Most of the ziggurats in this period are 3-staged as the reconstruction of the ziggurat of Ur shows.

2e. It is basically through the pottery that this period may be best explained. The pottery of the various type-sites may be contrasted with that of the proto-literate period which evidences a slow decay in quality, primarily due to mass production techniques. The following drawings are meant to show the different brick styles of each various period.


Mud Brick Technology

1. First bricks were loaf shaped

2. Second bricks made by the Sumerians were flat on one side

3. The kiln was invented

4. Bitumen & Straw or Clay = Stiff Mortar. It provided 3-6 centimeters of caulking.


  1. bricks were made in a wooden frame 6 at a time.



  1. Assyrians in the North later used stone, but caulked it with bitumen

3e. Trade evidences. The lack of some fundamental resources in Mesopotamia occasioned long distance trade from the earliest periods. See D. H. Caldwell, “The Early Glyptic of Gawra, Giyan, and Susa, and the Development of Long Distance Trade.” Or 45:3 (1976), 227-250. In an escalating manner, this led to rapid growth of technological skills and sophistication of the expanding urban centers. See also Redman, The Rise of Civilization. Vip see A. L. Oppenheim, “A Bird’s Eye View…”. On trade for the whole ANE see pages 1373-1500 in CANE but especially the article by Daniel Potts, “”Distant Shores: Ancient Near Eastern Trade with South Asia and Northeast Africa,” 1451-1464.


7c. The invention of writing and its development.


1d. The first step: pictogram

2d. The second step: Logogram. Originally, all signs were word signs; that is, a pictograph represented a word. As the language syllabified its signs, some were kept to represent a word rather than having a syllabic value. Often these very signs were taken over into Akkadian but pronounced differently since Sumerian and Akkadian are radically different languages.

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