The project Greater Mesopotamia Reconstruction
of its Environment and History, Work package V: History and Chronology
is looking
forward to its First International BANANA Conference

BABYLONIAN NAME AND
NAME-GIVING:
WHAT NAMES TELL US ABOUT SOCIAL REALITIES

which will be held at the University of Leuven on February 8–9, 2016.

Recent years have seen major advances in the
prosopographic study of cuneiform sources from second and first millennium BCE
Babylonia with the publication of a large number of archival documents
containing thousands of personal names from the Old, Middle and Neo-Babylonian
periods. Thus we have the resources to look for and define patterns in the
selection of names and to evaluate their significance.

The study of Babylonian personal names has hitherto
focused primarily on the linguistic characteristics of the names, analyzing
their constitutive elements and classifying them in different types. However,
names also bear socio-historical information about the name-bearer, his or her
family and the society in which (s)he lived. They usually reveal a great deal
about cultural origins, social situations prevailing at a given time, changing
conditions and changes in the structural make up of society or society’s ethnic
make-up.

The aims of the conference are to investigate how
cuneiform onomastic data can contribute to our understanding of Babylonia’s
social history, and which theoretical and technical frameworks are needed to
gather and use the vast onomastic data from second and first millennium BCE
Babylonia for this purpose successfully. The conference focuses on given names
as well as ancestral or family names, and is not limited to one period of
Babylonian history but favors a diachronic approach with the focus on changes
in naming trends, especially between the second and the first millennium BCE.

The conference endeavors to include a diverse range
of perspectives and disciplines concerned with a span of topics, areas and
periods as they relate to names and name giving practices in Babylonia in the
second and first millennia BCE.

We welcome talks that situate Babylonia’s onomastic
data within theoretical frameworks such as Social Network Analysis or the
ongoing structure versus agency debate of the social sciences, and reflect upon
the following topics and questions:

– the relationship between the type of name and the
person’s belonging to a particular sector of society, as for instance
exemplified by the existence of slave names and occupational names (Beamtennamen)

– the appearance of tri-partite names and usage of family
names

– the distribution of names and name patterns within
families within one generation of the same family and from one generation to
the other

– the circumstances surrounding the use of abbreviated
names, nicknames (incl. those of the so-called Banana-type), double names and
hybrid names (esp. in multicultural environments), and those surrounding the
change of name (e.g. passage from one life stage to another; change in the
profession, class or status of the person)

– the incorporation of non-Babylonian names into the elite
Babylonian families and vice-versa the acceptance of Babylonian names by
immigrant populations, and other cross-cultural name combinations seen in the
onomastic record that touch upon the elusive concept of “Babylonianess”

– the choice of name in priestly families as a way to
express ideological identification

– the feasibility of developing a digital name corpus
for first millennium BCE Babylonia through international and interdisciplinary
collaboration

More information:
kathleen.abraham@arts.kuleuven.be
melanie.gross@kuleuven.be

program