Saturday, June 08, 2019

Review of Monerie, L'économie de la Babylonie à l'époque hellénistique

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Julien Monerie, L'économie de la Babylonie à l'époque hellénistique. Studies in Ancient Near Eastern records, 14​. Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2018. Pp. xvii, 577. ISBN 9781501510670. €189,95. Reviewed by R.J. van der Spek, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (
In the past, the arrival of Alexander the Great has been seen as a deep rupture in the history of Greece as well as in the history of the Near East. In Greece it would have marked the end of the independent city-state, in the Near East the end of the former Mesopotamian civilizations. Most textbooks on the history of the Near East end with Alexander the Great. In a more recent past this picture has changed. It was observed that Alexander the Great left many institutions unchanged and the Seleucid empire was considered a direct successor to the former Assyrian, Babylonian and Persian empires. Monerie correctly takes now a more nuanced stance. Although there is a lot of continuity, changes are considerable. Monerie points to the introduction of money, the foundation of many cities and the political innovations in existing cities, the shift of the gravity of Babylonia from the Euphrates (Babylon) to the Tigris and Diyala area (Seleucia); the gradual weakening of the temples; the reduction of royal domain in favor of cities.
I noted the publication of the book here.

I am glad to see that good use is increasing being made of the many thousands of economic cuneiform tablets. They are boring individually, but collectively they have much to tell us about ancient Mesopotamian society in all periods.

Likewise, the neglected history of Babylonia in the Persian and Hellenistic periods has been receiving increasing interest from scholars. This book is another example. For some past posts, see here and links. This history is of no little interest for Judaism of the Second Temple Period.

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