Freedom in Ancient Near Eastern Societies

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This article examines freedom in ancient Near Eastern societies based on evidence from cuneiform writing. It explains that freedom, both the idea and the reality, has conventionally been denied to the ancient Near East. It attempts to formulate a theory of freedom in the ancient Near East drawing mainly from the second millennium and from regions where Mesopotamian cuneiform was employed. It shows how ideas of rights and liberty formed part of the conceptual architecture of ancient Near Eastern communities and argues that the autonomy and the liberty of individual members of the community are deeply engrained in Ancient Near Eastern culture.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Cuneiform Culture
EditorsKaren Radner, Eleanor Robson
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191743597
ISBN (Print)9780199557301
StatePublished - 2011

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Oxford University Press, 2013.


  • Autonomy
  • Culture
  • Cuneiform writing
  • Freedom
  • Liberty
  • Near eastern societies
  • Rights


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