CfP: Cultures of contact: modes of interaction within ancient communities

ANEE organizes a workshop at the 66th Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale in Frankfurt and Mainz, 20–24 July 2020.


In our workshop on “Cultures of contact: modes of interaction within ancient communities” we will address questions of cultural contacts/cultures of contact on the level of individual interaction. Focusing on lived realities in village and city communities, we will investigate the framework and the encountered modes of person-to-person (and group) interactions in contexts of social and spatial mobility. What are the demographic community compositions, in which we encounter mobility-based person-to-person contact? How is this interaction reflected in the archaeological, iconographical, and textual sources? And which role do the different types of mobility play in these contacts? 

Based on the exploration of individual cases, we will reflect on two major historiographical concerns regarding the topic: one within Ancient Near Eastern Studies, the other concerning the cross-over between ancient history and social sciences.

  1. Can one identify patterns of contact or should such person-to-person interaction rather be researched as a series of individual cases, which are more dependent on the specific circumstances than the type of interaction? Is a lack of pattern intrinsic to mobility-related modes of interaction, which are rooted in highly personal life histories of the individuals involved? Or is it due to the state of preservation of the evidence or the current state of research?
  2. Does the process of constructing generalities from individual cases differ in ancient history and social sciences? If yes, how and why? And how can Ancient Near Eastern Studies profit from a cross-over approach


We will conduct the workshop within the standard framework of the RAI main sessions, i.e. in slots of 30 minutes in sessions of 90 minutes around the official breaks. Each session will consist of two papers complementing each other and presenting concrete case studies (e.g. archaeological and philological approach to a similar context or methodologically similar papers on different contexts, etc.) plus a 30-minute discussion session. These will be introduced by a brief theoretical response by members of the Centre of Excellence in Ancient Near Eastern Empires (see below: Contact). This will allow us all to recontextualize the topics of the papers in further aspects of their theoretical framework.

Chronological and geographical focus

In accordance with the chronological and geographical focus of the Centre of Excellence in Ancient Near Eastern Empires, we especially welcome papers dealing with Mesopotamia and the Southern Levant throughout the first millennium BCE. We encourage archaeological, philological, and theoretical approaches.

Paper proposals

We invite proposals for papers of 20 mins duration plus 10 mins discussion. Please send your titles and abstracts (200–400 words) by 31 March 2020 to We will notify all authors by 15 April, whether their paper has been accepted.

Organizing committee and contact details

The workshop is organised by Tero Alstola, Johannes Bach, Marta Lorenzon, Joanna Töyräänvuori, Caroline Wallis, and Melanie Wasmuth (Centre of Excellence in Ancient Near Eastern Empires, hosted by the University of Helsinki).

For more information, please contact us via