Journal of Ancient Civilizations 36 (2021), 1

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Journal of Ancient Civilizations 36 (2021), 1
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138 pages
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Journal of Ancient Civilizations (JAC)
Journal of Ancient Civilizations Northeast Normal University 5268 Renmin Street 130024 Changchun Jilin Province People’s Republic of China <> Chief Executive Director: Prof. Dr. Sven Günther, M.A. (
Günther, Sven

The JOURNAL OF ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS (JAC) is a double-blind peer-reviewed journal and published annually in two fascicles by the Institute for the History of Ancient Civilizations (IHAC, Northeast Normal University, Changchun, Jilin Province, People’s Republic of China). Information on the double-blind peer-review process can be found on our homepage:
The aim of JAC is to provide a forum for the discussion of various aspects of the cultural and historical processes in the Ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean world, encompassing studies of individual civilizations as well as common elements, contacts, and interactions among them (e.g., in such traditional fields as Assyriology, Egyptology, Hittitology, Classics, Byzantine Studies, and Sinology, among others). Hence, we publish the work of international scholars while also providing a showcase for the finest Chinese scholarship, and so welcome articles dealing with history, philology, art, archaeology, and linguistics that are intended to illuminate the material culture and society of the Ancient Near East, the Mediterranean region, and ancient China. Articles discussing other cultures will be considered for publication only if they are clearly relevant to the ancient Mediterranean world, the Near East, and China. Information about new discoveries and current scholarly events is also welcome. Publishers are encouraged to send review copies of books in the relevant fields.
This fascicle offers insights into different forms of ancient rule and control mechanisms. Sebastian Fink discusses the factors of the fall of the empires of Akkad and Ur III and relates it to secondary state formation at the borders of the respective empires. Islam Amer looks at an unclear title in hieroglyphs on a seal impression dating to the First Dynasty of Egypt. He understands it as a functional or administrative title of a supervisor of specialized weavers who made a certain kind of linen for the king. Based on the literary and new numismatic evidence, Roy Arakelian and Maxime K. Yevadian reassess the reign of Erato, queen of Armenia, particularly in terms of her family links to other attested Armenian rulers. John Melville-Jones analyzes all occurrences of the words obrussa and ὄβρυζα in Latin and Greek documents and shows the importance of their meaning, ranging from “purification” to “pure gold,” in the late Roman Empire.
All communications, manuscripts, disks and books for review should be sent to the Assistant Editor, Journal of Ancient Civilizations, Institute for the History of Ancient Civilizations, Northeast Normal University, 130024 Changchun, Jilin Province, People’s Republic of China (e-mail:, or to the Executive Editor in Chief, Prof. Dr. Sven Günther, M.A. (e-mail: or




FINK, SEBASTIAN: The Collapse of Early Mesopotamian Empires – A Homemade Disaster (pp. 1–31)

AMER, ISLAM: Specialized Weavers in First Dynasty Egypt? (pp. 33–65)

ARAKELIAN, ROY / YEVADIAN, MAXIME K.: Erato, reine d’Arménie, étude historique et numismatique (pp. 67–114)

MELVILLE-JONES, JOHN: Obrussa and ῎Oβρυζα: Their History and Meanings (pp. 115–136)
ABSTRACTS (pp. 137–138)


Sebastian FINK (University of Innsbruck)
If we survey the fall of Mesopotamian empires from the beginning of written sources to the end of the Neo-Babylonian Empire we find one astonishing similarity: the warlike people that finally destroyed these empires came from the East. A number of factors, not at least geography, might explain this, but here I want to focus on the effect the Mesopotamian empires had on the bordering regions themselves and discuss the possibility that the constitution of these organized political actors pushing back against the empire was a result of Mesopotamian imperial politics themselves, determined by a poor evaluation of the empire’s ability to exercise direct control of areas where military actions took place. The aim of this paper is to build on earlier work and to investigate the fall of the empires of Akkad and Ur III under a systemic perspective, in order to understand which factors might have caused the decline and fall of these empires that were not merely accidental. Many reasons have been suggested for the fall of Mesopotamian empires, like climatic change, salinization of the soil, or the arrival of new peoples. Here, I want to focus on the question of whether this “arrival of new people” may be better described as the establishment of opposing political forces. They are often described as coming out of nowhere, but I would like to suggest that this was the result of an ethnogenesis or secondary state formation at the border of the empire.

Islam AMER (New Valley University, Egypt)
This article deals with the interpretation of a legible, but unclear, title preserved in hieroglyphs on a seal impression dating to the First Dynasty, specifically from the reign of king Qa’a from Saqqara Mastaba 3505. This title is probably to be understood as a functional or administrative title related to specialized weavers in the First Dynasty, in a context where specialists were preparing an important kind of linen.

Roy ARAKELIAN / Maxime K. YEVADIAN (Avocat au barreau de Paris / Université catholique de Lyon)
Recent numismatic discoveries justify a re-examination of the little-known period of the Artaxiad dynasty’s last years in Greater Armenia (founded around 189 BC by Artaxias I), and more particularly the period concerning the reigns of Erato, queen of Armenia. The traditional view, which we are trying to reassess, was schematically limited in considering her as the daughter of Tigranes III who would have married her brother Tigranes [IV] to reign once or twice before abdicating. The numismatic corpus is limited to four coin types. The two Erato’s coins known so far bear his name, without any ambiguity, and the legend “’ΕΡΑΤΩ ΒΑϹΙΛΕΩϹ ΤΙΓΡΑΝΟΥ ΑΔΕΛΦΗ – Erato, sister of King Tigranes.” On two recently discovered new coins we can identify on the obverse her bust and on the reverse the legend: “ΒΑ [ΣΙΛIΣΣA] ΕΡΑΤ [Ω] – Queen Erato.” We have come to the conclusion that she is probably the daughter of Artaxias II, she reigned once with her brother Tigranes [IV], without being his wife, and once alone, before abdicating.

John MELVILLE-JONES (University of Western Australia)
This study collects and analyses for the first time the occurrences of the words obrussa and ὄβρυζα in Latin and Greek documents up to the sixth century AD. Their meanings range from “purification” to “pure gold” to the name of a charge that was collected when taxes were paid in gold coins, rather than ingots, in the late Roman Empire. Although the Latin form appeared long before the Greek form, and some scholars have assumed that it was therefore the original one, for sound philological reasons it has been established that the Greek form came first.

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