The theme of the 69th Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale is “Politics, Peoples, and Polities in the Ancient Near East.”
Human social organization is complex and diverse. It involves the development of systems for decision-making in groups (politics), the articulation of collective identities (peoples), and the establishment of mechanisms for the regulation, distribution, and management of goods, property, and people (polities). The ancient Near East offers an immensely rich record of different forms of social organization, from mercantile city-states and expansionist empires to mobile pastoralist confederations and assorted collections of outlaws, with everything in between. Over thousands of years and in varied geographic and ecological settings, these social forms underwent constant processes of reform, renegotiation, and reinvention.
The 69th Rencontre is interested in how different people in the ancient Near East navigated the challenges of life in groups. What kinds of societies did they build together, and why? How did the different natural and human environments in which people lived inform the societies they made? How did different forms of social organization interact and relate to each other? How did people think about the societies they established and about the possibilities for different ways of doing things? How did certain groups seek to preserve the status quo, and how did others challenge it? How do the values and histories of our own, present-day societies distort our understanding of the societies of the ancient Near East?
To advance scholarship on the politics, peoples, and polities of the ancient Near East, we invite scholars across disciplinary boundaries to engage with these and related questions.