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Institute for the Study of the Ancient World

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David Danzig

Dissertation

My general academic goal is to apply relevant contemporary theoretical, methodological, and technological approaches to the integration of multiple kinds of ancient evidence in order to achieve new syntheses regarding historical-cultural problems of the Ancient World, with an eye toward investigating commonality and difference in the variety of human cultures and histories.

After studying Physics and Mathematics as an undergraduate student (B.A., Yeshiva University), I turned to investigating the ancient past. I spent time studying the Hebrew Bible at Yeshiva University (M.A.), and then Assyriology at Yale University (M.A.). My Master’s Thesis combined literary and philological approaches to study the exegesis of the Fifty Names of Marduk in the final section of the epic, Enuma Elish.

For my dissertation project, I am working on the problem of the dynamics of ethnic groups, especially as they come into new social, political, economic, and religious situations. My first case focuses on the Nippur region (central Babylonia) in the 1st millennium BCE; my second case entails Middle Assyrian expansion in northern Mesopotamia in the mid-late 2nd millennium BCE. I am analyzing everyday cuneiform texts related to persons of various ethnic origin, both statistically, in bulk, and in local depth. These data allow me to develop diachronic assessments of each ethnic group, regarding its internal constitution and its interactions with others in inter-ethnic, various social, and political/imperial contexts.

Some of my other research interests include: investigating the use of word play on names in the ancient Near East, expanding on my Master’s Thesis; examining long-distance communication in ancient Mesopotamian imperial contexts; exploring the historical impact of catastrophic events, such as earthquakes and epidemics; modeling empires (e.g., the Neo-Assyrian) as economic machines that cyclically acquire, move, and use resources; studying long term civilizational developments in terms of cultural features that are maintained or revived versus those that are left behind; applying modern concepts of symmetry and mathematical cultures to ancient Near Eastern art and architecture; and exploring the major transitions in human history – the developments of cognition and language, sedentary lifeways, and civilizational complexities.

I am supported in my studies by my lovely wife, Temima, and our two beautiful young boys, Hillel and Gavriel.

Please click here to browse my writings.