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From the Banks of the Euphrates
Studies in Honor of Alice Louise Slotsky
Edited by Micah Ross
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Although Near Eastern languages and the history of the exact sciences are known for being obscure and deliberately arcane to general audiences, Alice Slotsky has
paradoxically established her legacy by exposing these topics to a wider audience. As a visiting professor at Brown University, Slotsky has taught more students than any previous Assyriologist and successfully brought this discipline to a wider audience than previously imagined possible. This volume, with articles written by former students, as well as colleagues, pays tribute to her broad interests.
Publication date: 2008
Bibliographic info: Pp. xii + 318
Trim Size: 6 x 9
"The list of Alice Slotsky's publications is rather short, featuring most prominently the revision of her 1992 Yale dissertation: The Bourse of Babylon: Market Quotations in the Astronomical Diaries of Babylonia (Bethesda, CDL Press, 1997). Nonetheless, her influence as a pedagogue has exceeded that of most of her Assyriological colleagues, since as a visiting professor at Brown University she has for years offered a wildly popular course in introductory Akkadian, routinely attracting dozens of undergraduate sudents.
Having as an instructor at Yale initiated Alice into the mysteries of cuneiform studies, I would like to take some credit for her success, but I realize that it is due entirely to her own warm personality, enthusiasm, and talent for clear exposition in the classroom. Those who have benefited directly from Alice's teaching have organized this Festschrift in her honor, attracting contributions not only from among her students, most of whom are still in the early stages of their scholarly careers, but also from a number of more senior colleagues.
Given the great interest of the honoree in ancient astronomy, the largest number of essays gathered here appropriately deal with the Babylonians' observations and conceptions of the heavens. See the contributions of Lis Brack-Bernsen, Hermann Hunger, and Christopher Walker; John P. Britton; Francesca Rochberg; Micah Ross; John M. Steele and Lis Brack- Bernsen; and Clemency Williams. Also belonging here is Leo Depuydt's overview of the problems inherent in establishing an absolute chronology for the first millennium B.C.E. in Egypt and Western Asia.
The second major group of articles deals with Mesopotamian mathematics. Authors here are Jens Hoyrup, Elizabeth E. Payne, Kim Plofken, and Eleanor Robson. The discussion of early siege warfare by Sarah C. Melville and Duncan J. Melville, featuring as it does a consideration of relevant "story problems" from Babylonian school texts, may be included here.
Miscellaneous contributions include three on Egyptological topics (by Karen Pollinger Foster, Jessica Levai, and Marie Passanante), one on Mesopotamian literature (Erica Reiner), and another comparing Mesopotamian terrestrial omens with those form early India (Toke Lindegaard Knudsen). Ronald Wallenfels presents the editio princeps of a stone inscription of Nebuchadnezzar II held in the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, a duplicate of the "East India House" text that played an important role in the earliest days of Assyriology.
But to this reviewer's mind, the highlight of the volume is Benjamin R. Foster's witty "Assyriology and English Literature." Foster details how students of the cultures of the ancient Near East have appeared as characters in English-language belles letters from the time of Ben Jonson to that of Agatha Christie and beyond. As illustrated most strikingly by George Eliot's Mr. Casaubon, these have often been most unflattering depictions!
All in all, From the Banks of the Euphrates is a fitting tribute to a fine teacher and dedicated scholar." --Gary Beckman in JAOS 128.2 (2008).
". . . erudite Festschrift, written by former students, friends and colleagues of Alice Louise Slotsky." --L.-S. Tiemeyer in JSOT 33/5 (2009) 181-82.
"From the Banks of the Euphrates makes contributions on a number of levels. First, many of the essays present previously untranslated materials. In this respect, the volume offers a great deal of brand new data that historians from a variety of disciplines will be interested in.
"Second, the volume is concerned with the transmission of ideas, a process that has been the subject of debate since at least the first quarter of the twentieth century...
"Third, the volume highlights the importance of Assyriology for the ongoing work of
culture history in the ancient Near East. Most of the essays deal with aspects of
intercultural exchange that occurred between Mesopotamian culture and the regions surrounding it, ranging from Egypt in the southwest to India in the east. If there are those who may have underestimated the importance of Assyriology for the study of ancient Near Eastern history and thought, this volume has much to offer. "—Ralph K. Hawkins, Kentucky Christian University in Review of Biblical Literature, March 2010
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