Heather D. Baker
Assyriology/Ancient Near Eastern Studies
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Royal Institutional Households in First Millennium BC Mesopotamia


This project, which began in March 2009 and ended in February 2015 (following successful mid-term evaluation in 2011), formed part of an interdisciplinary National Research Network (NFN) on the theme ‘“Imperium” and “Officium”—Comparative Studies in Ancient Bureaucracy and Officialdom’. The project was funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) grant S 10802-G18.


Heather D. Baker (Senior Postdoc, project leader)
Melanie Groß (PhD student [04/2009–09/2014]; Postdoc [10/2014–02/2015])

Project abstract

The institutional household was central to economic, social and political organization in ancient Mesopotamia. This mode of organization persisted into the first millennium BC, which is said to have witnessed a shift from an 'archaic' patrimonial regime towards a more rationalized patrimonial bureaucracy. The aim is to investigate the nature and extent of this shift, based on the historical documentation for the royal household institution in first millennium BC Mesopotamia. The project focuses especially on the rich Neo-Assyrian evidence, drawing also on the Babylonian and Achaemenid material for comparative purposes and to examine diachronic continuity and change. It aims to provide a model for the composition, organization and function of the royal household within the context of imperial administration, focusing especially on the role of the middle and lower-ranking personnel within this structure. The overarching objective is to determine whether or not it is possible to detect any development towards increasingly rationalized bureaucratic forms in Mesopotamian imperial administration over the course of the first millennium BC.

Contributions to SAA Online

As part of the project's collaborative effort we contributed towards an open-access web resource, State Archives of Assyria Online [SAAo]. This involved lemmatising the two volumes of Neo-Assyrian legal documents published in the SAA series:

Kwasman, T. & Parpola, S. 1991. Legal Transactions of the Royal Court of Nineveh, Part I. Tiglath-Pileser III through Esarhaddon. Helsinki: Helsinki University Press. [350 documents]

SAA 14
Mattila, R. 2002. Legal Transactions of the Royal Court of Nineveh, Part II. Assurbanipal through Sin-šarru-iškun. Helsinki: Helsinki University Press. [479 documents]

The lemmatisation of these documents for SAA Online was completed in summer 2010 by Melanie Groß.

Neo-Assyrian Bibliography

As part of our project's work we compiled an online Neo-Assyrian Bibliography, available through Zotero.

last updated: 12 October 2015