AMME Seminar 23.02.23: ‘Men and Women in Ancient Texts’

The second Ancient and Medieval Middle East (AMME) seminar of the spring semester will be organised as a hybrid event on Thursday 23 February (16:15-18:00 EET/Helsinki).

The session will consist of two papers – by Patricia Bou Pérez and by Agnès Garcia-Ventura & Fumi Karahashi – followed by a shared question round and discussion on the seminar specific theme of ‘men and women in ancient texts’. The topics of the talks are:

“Be a Real Man!”: How Should We Understand the “Hegemonic Masculinity” in the Old Babylonian Period? (Dr. Patricia Bou Pérez)

The aim of this presentation is to discuss how the idea of “being a man” or a “male”, which was especially tied to rulers, was understood in the Old Babylonian period (ca 2000-1600 BCE). For this purpose, I will analyze different Old Babylonian legal and literary texts, as the Code of Hammurabi or Sargon, the conquering hero, and the letters found in Mari (Tell Hariri, Syria). The letters of Mari offer rich information about different aspects, such as the daily life of the inhabitants of the palace and the city, and even about masculinities and femininities. All these texts will allow me to approach the idea of “being a real man” in the Old Babylonian period.

Socio-Economic Aspects and Agency of Female Maš-da-ri-a Contributors in Presargonic Lagash(Prof. Dr. Agnès Garcia-Ventura and Prof. Dr. Fumi Karahashi)

Presargonic texts from the so-called E2-MI2 archive from Girsu, part of the city-state of Lagash, record some women who made a special kind of contribution, called a maš-da-ri-a. No matter how these women are listed, either along with their husband or separately, they are always listed with their own maš-da-ri-a. In the talk we would like to highlight the active role these women had in the socio-economic sphere. To do so we present, first, a synopsis of the use of agency in ancient Near Eastern studies. Second, we concentrate on the primary sources, presenting first an overview of the maš-da-ri-a contributions followed by a focus on six female maš-da-ri-a contributors selected as specific case studies. Third, we discuss some aspects of the maš-da-ri-a contributors using agency as an analytical tool with the aim of shedding some additional light on the interpretation of the sources.

All are welcome, so please share and join us in person or online!

Time: Thursday 23 February at 16:15-18:00 EET (UTC+2h).

Live venue: Faculty hall (University of Helsinki, Faculty of Theology, Fabianinkatu 24, 5th floor).

Virtual venue: Zoom (Meeting ID: 678 8979 2118 /

Wonder what else is on the menu? Check out the spring program at: