Browsing by Subject "assyriologia"

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  • Svärd, Saana (Helsingin yliopisto, 2012)
    In this dissertation, I analyze theories of power in order to study the Neo-Assyrian (934-610 BC) women of the palaces. This study subscribes to that sociological understanding of power which stipulates that power exists in all relationships between people. This is why the main research question of this dissertation is not whether women had power or not, but instead, the question is: What kind of power did women have in Neo-Assyrian palaces? Neo-Assyrian women have not been much discussed in earlier research. In addition to presenting the textual evidence relating to them, this dissertation hopes to offer new theoretical perspectives for Assyriology and the study of ancient Near East. The aim of this study is not to present a mere catalogue of powerful women, listing occupations and texts. Instead, the aim is to go further than that and show that by using theories of power, one can get new viewpoints additional to those procured by the traditional philological methodology. The structure of the dissertation is dictated by the research questions. After the introduction in Chapter 1, the second Chapter evaluates sociological discussions regarding the concept of power from the viewpoint of women s studies and Assyriology. However, to discuss women s power in the Neo-Assyrian palaces, it is necessary to consider what power meant for the Assyrians themselves. Although not an easy question to tackle, Chapter 3 discusses this problem from a semantic and lexicographical perspective. I discuss those words which imply power in the texts relating to the women of the palace. At the end of Chapter 3, these lexicographical results are compared with the sociological concepts of power presented in Chapter 2. The theoretical framework built on these two chapters understands power as a hierarchical phenomenon. What positions did women have in the palace hierarchy? What did they do in the palaces, and what kind of authority did they possess? This is the topic of Chapter 4, where the textual evidence relating to the palace women is presented. Power in general and women s power especially has been understood mostly in a hierarchical way in earlier research concerning Mesopotamian women. Hierarchical power structures were important in Mesopotamia, but other theoretical approaches can help one gain new perspectives into the ancient material. One of these approaches consists of concentrating on heterarchical, negotiable and lateral power relations in which the women were engaged. In Chapter 5, the concept of heterarchical power is introduced and the text material is approached from a heterarchical perspective. Heterarchical power relations include hierarchical power relations, but also incorporate other kinds of power relations, such as reciprocal power, resistance and persuasion. Although earlier research has certainly been aware of women s influence in the palaces, this dissertation makes explicit the power concepts employed in previous research and expands them further using the concept of heterarchy. By utilizing the concept of power as a theoretical tool, my approach opened up new avenues for interpreting the texts.