Sons and Descendants: A Social History of Kin Groups and Family Names in the Early Neo-Babylonian Period

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BiblioBazaar, 2011 - 458 pages
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The dissertation employs legal and administrative documents from the eighth and seventh centuries to outline the form of large kin groups or clans in Babylonia and surmise what roles they played in Babylonian society. A marked increase in documentation from Babylonia during these centuries makes this the earliest period in which such kin groups can be studies in detail. A major component of the dissertation is an examination of regional differences in family name usage. Family names appear to have been employed most prevalently in northern Babylonia, particularly at the cities of Babylon, Borsippa, and Dilbat. There is a significant amount of textual evidence available from Nippur in central Babylonia. However, family names appear very rarely in the sources, suggesting that the population there did not use of family names. There are also very few attestations of family names in the texts from Uruk and Ur. In contrast to Nippur, however, a thorough prosopographical analysis makes it apparent that at Uruk, there were kin groups that identified themselves with a family name. The dissertation concludes by considering the origins of these kin groups in the second millennium, drawing upon the sparse evidence from the previous centuries, and their subsequent development in the first millennium. Anthropological perspectives on kinship and family are also utilized. The dissertation asserts that the use of family names among kin groups was determined primarily by descent or adoption. The appearance of identical family names at different cities was due largely to individuals relocating to new cities and not to fictitious claims of shared ancestry by different families.

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