Department of Egyptology and Assyriology
October 30, 2014

Conference "Scholars and Scholarship in Late Babylonian Uruk"


March 23-24, 2015, University Paris Diderot, Paris
Building Condorcet, Room 646A Mondrian.

This international conference is co-organized by Christine Proust and John Steele and supported by the European project SAW (CNRS & University Paris Diderot) and the Department of Egyptology and Assyriology at Brown University.

The city of Uruk was a major centre of scholarship in Late Babylonian Mesopotamia (second half of the first millennium BCE). Excavations in Uruk have provided a rich variety of documents, often available with some archaeological information, on the individuals and groups who practiced a range of scholarly activities such as mathematics, the astral sciences, medicine and rituals. Most of these documents were part of scholarly libraries. The goal of this conference is to understand mathematical practices in the broad context of scholarship in Uruk. To that end we encourage speakers to examine the interrelation of different genres of scholarship and the circulation of knowledge between individuals or communities of scholars (professions, families, clans, generations, etc) inside Uruk, and from Uruk to other scholarly centres. We expect cases studies grounded on well-delimited collections of tablets which also address broader questions which might include: Who were the scholars who wrote mathematical and other scholarly texts in Uruk? How do we identify and characterize mathematical practices in astral sciences, medicine, and rituals? Which relations can be established between these practices and those documented by mathematical texts? What are the specificities of erudition in Uruk? How did scientific texts fit into the organization of scholarly libraries and of professions? What was the influence of Urukian science in the Hellenistic world and vice versa?