The Netherlands Institute for the Near East

Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten  -  Institut néerlandais du Proche-Orient

Book Specifications
col. 1-222 pp.

Bibliotheca Orientalis LXXIX, 1/2 (2022)

2022  |  BiOr Volume 79 1/2 ISSN: 0006-1913


Gee, J. — The Effect of Methodological Choices on the Understanding of Hypocephali

Just as the evidence left from the past often leaves itself open to multiple interpretations, so also multiple methodologies may be used to examine and analyze that evidence. The researcher must make choices about which legitimate methods to use. Different methods sometimes yield different results. Since the ancient Egyptians had no explicit theology, all theological reconstructions are modern. Different methods produce different theologies. The article looks at how different methodologies applied to interpreting hypocephali can result in different interpretations. Thus, recent laudable work on hypocephali might not be definitive. How much modern theological reconstructions might have coincided with the understanding of ancient Egyptians is an open question.

Keetman, J. — Durch den Regen gezeugt – frühe Texte vom Anfang der Welt

This article is about the characteristics of the earliest texts about the beginning of the world, which may be roughly dated about 2600 BC. Since the Mesopotamian religion was always fluid the texts are studied within their own time and for their own right. After an overview and the discussion of some basic features including the use of the UGN-writing system, we discuss the best preserved text, which we have called “Die Investitur des Utu”. We believe that the texts should be investigated in their entirety, not only some lines describing the very beginning. Due to the writing system and the state of preservation this text is full of ambiguities but on the other hand many things are clear enough for a general description. One important aspect is the presence of chthonic “Dema-Gods” coming from the rain, which may be connected with Gods from which plants are sprouting, as depicted on seals.

Sánchez Muñoz, D. — Interpreting and Staging Music in Ancient Southwest Asia and Beyond. Review Article of The Study of Musical Performance in Antiquity: Archaeology and Written Sources

The contents of The Study of Musical Performance in Antiquity: Archaeology and Written Sources (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018) are discussed in depth in this review article, including some preliminary methodological considerations about the notion of ‘performance’. Some lines of research advanced in the reviewed volume are encouraged to continue in the future. The reviewer also discusses the question of ‘musical performance’ as ‘musical staging’: may we talk about the existence of concerts already in antiquity? Are they as relatively recent as musicology traditionally asserts?

Buccellati, G. — Entanglement and not. Early historic Eurasia as a case study

Appropriating Innovation is a signal contribution not only to the important topic an-nounced in the title, seen as a theoretical model, but also to a crucial transformative period in the cultural history of Eurasia. The authors include some of the most dis-tinguished authorities in the field, along with young scholars, and there are signifi-cant and diverse methodological implications developed by them, as well as an impressive richness of substantive data marshalled as evidence. This is a major effort, and a very successful one, which deserves close attention, hence the length of this review.

The book is also exemplary in the way the central theme is pursued throughout, with a great variety of contributions hailing from a number of different cultural settings and following diverse and parallel inquiry paths. However, it is left to the reader to bring out the inner coherence that emerges from the overall thread, and I would like to make this the goal of my review, beginning with a detailed outline of the contents and looking then critically at five of the central themes broached by the individual authors.

Janssens, J. — ‘What is’ for Avicenna māhiyya (quiddity)? A research into understanding one of the cornerstones of his ontology

Although Avicenna is famous for his distinction between essence and existence—which implies a clear distinction in all created beings between their māhiyya (quiddity) and existence, his precise understanding of quiddity is far from easy to grasp. Some of his lost works, or parts of works, might have contained additional clarifications, but this remains highly speculative. More relevant is undoubtedly the study of the possible historical sources of Avicenna’s doctrine, both Greek and Arabic (both falsafa and kalām), although it remains difficult to evaluate in a precise way which is the degree and significance each of these sources had on Avicenna’s view of quiddity. Similarly, the examination of the different interpretations that have been expressed by many interpreters in the post-Avicennian Arabic-Persian tradition, the medieval Latin and the contemporary Western world, is clearly not devoid of interest, but it also proves to be complicated, not at least because some of these interpreters were eminent scholars who had their own agenda. When Janos ascribes to Avicenna the idea of quiddity as having a distinct ontological and epistemological status, he presents an entirely innovative interpretation, which may look at first sight suspicious. However, his interpretation highly gains in plausibility in view of his extensive argumentation in favor of the existence of ‘pure quiddity’ in the mind and in the extramental world, and the existence of the ‘pure quiddities’ in God. Although several terminological or doctrinal points clearly need further investigation, as shown in this paper, Janos’ thesis deserves serious attention.

Seyed-Gohrab, A.-A. — Pro Lingua Persica. Persian in Islamic Mystical Literature

Slightly elaborated and adapted version of the inaugural lecture delivered at Utrecht University upon acceptance of the Professorial Chair of Persian and Iranian Studies on Wednesday 27 October 2021.

Book reviews and announcements

Faraonisch Egypte, Assyriologie, Hettitologie, Semitisch, Oude Testament, Vroeg Jodendom, Archeologie, Arabica, Centraal-Azië, Islam, Kunst in de islamitische wereld, Varia



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