Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Agents, archives, and risk: A micronarrative account of Old Assyrian trade through Šalim-ahum's activities in 1890 B.C.
by Stratford, Edward Paul, Ph.D., The University of Chicago, 2010, 491; 3419777
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this dissertation is to provide an inductive description of one Old Assyrian merchant's pursuit of his commercial interests over the course of a year through a temporal reconstruction of pertinent correspondence. Šalim-ahum's correspondence, primarily with one of his important representatives, Pūsu-kēn, documents Šalim-ahum's efforts to manage his business pursuits on the Anatolian plateau from his base at Assur 1000 kilometers away. Through the year he shepherds ventures, responds to defaulting partners, expresses outrage at being wronged, seeks retribution, plans one son's travels, plans another son's marriage, helps an agent buy a house, presses that associate into a partnership, manipulates colleagues, and is occasionally ignored. In response to a need for an inductive description of private organization in the Old Assyrian trade, this account, focused on the day-to-day practice of the trade, exposes a substratum of structures which shaped the social dimensions of the trade but also reveals Šalim-ahum making decisions in compelling temporal and material contexts. In turn, Šalim-ahum's decisions and tactics, his reactions and strategies, more substantively document a mentality about the Old Assyrian trade and its social and economic dimensions nearly four millennia ago than possible from synchronically aggregated texts.

Through the micronarrative account, several revisions to the understanding of the Old Assyrian trade are proposed in this work. Šalim-ahum's variation in describing assets and plans suggests different standards for reconstructing activities and a sensitivity to different contexts of communication. Šalim-ahum's management of several crises during the year reveal a tempo of correspondence and transportation more robust than previously envisioned. In sensitivity to this tempo of communication, Šalim-ahum's activities suggest the coordination and conflict of interests among Assyrian merchants was more complex than can be accounted for through the concept of family firm, both contemporary descriptions and ancient invocations.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Roth, Martha
Commitee: Larsen, Mogens T., Richardson, Seth
School: The University of Chicago
Department: Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 71/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Near Eastern Studies, Ancient history
Keywords: Anatolia, Ancient trade, Assyria, Microhistory, Old Assyrian, Salim-ahum, Trade, Turkey
Publication Number: 3419777
ISBN: 978-1-124-19919-1
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