Conservation science and ethics in the analytical studies of clay cuneiform tablets from ancient near eastern archives

Yuval Goren, Erez Ben-Yosef, Francisco Centola, Cécile Fossé, Yaron Katzir, José Mirão, Ron Sha'ar, Yitzhak Vassal, Nicola Schiavon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

Abstract

The Late Bronze Age (ca. 1500-1200 BC) constitutes the heyday of the great empires of the ancient Near East (ANE), such as Egypt, Hatti, Mitanni, Babylonia, and Assyria. Centuries of conflicts followed by peaceful relations, marked the interrelations of these superpowers. Rich literary records in the form of archives of cuneiform texts were established. These archives contain abundant tablets whose origin is unknown. Sometimes the letterhead is missing, in other cases, we may have the name of the sender and still ignore his domicile. Further, the location of many ANE countries and cities has not yet been clearly established. Hence, revealing the origin of documents has the potential of shedding new light on the history of the ANE and beyond. The paper will discuss the use of a rich array of nondestructive testing (NDT) and minimally-destructive testing (MDT) methods for studying the composition, technology and provenance of ANE cuneiform tablets. This approach opens new horizons in the interpretation of the clay documents. We applied such analyses on hundreds of tablets from el Amarna, Ras Shamra/Ugarit, Boğazköy/Hattusha, and sites in Cyprus and Israel/Palestine. The research project made during the last decade, serves as the basis for this study. The results raise a set of ethical and practical issues concerning the study and conservation of such precious artifacts.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2019 IMEKO TC4 International Conference on Metrology for Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, MetroArchaeo 2019
PublisherIMEKO-International Measurement Federation Secretariat
Pages59-67
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9789299008454
StatePublished - 2019
Event2019 IMEKO TC4 International Conference on Metrology for Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, MetroArchaeo 2019 - Florence, Italy
Duration: 4 Dec 20196 Dec 2019

Publication series

Name2019 IMEKO TC4 International Conference on Metrology for Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, MetroArchaeo 2019

Conference

Conference2019 IMEKO TC4 International Conference on Metrology for Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, MetroArchaeo 2019
Country/TerritoryItaly
CityFlorence
Period4/12/196/12/19

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