The Netherlands Institute for the Near East

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

Book Specifications
col. 223-470 pp.

Bibliotheca Orientalis LXXV, 3/4 (2018)

2018  |  BiOr Volume 75 3/4 ISSN: 0006-1913


Bietak, M. — The Enigma of the Hyksos

Half a century of excavations and research at Tell el-Dab‘a and other sites in the Eastern Delta such as Tell el-Maskhuta, Tell el-Retabe, Tell el-Kua, Tell el-Manshiya, and Tell el-Khilgan have produced a large amount of new data about a Western Asiatic community which started to settle in the Eastern Nile Delta during the second part of the 12th Dynasty. This overwhelming material has been evaluated only to some extent with about 28 monographs and hundreds of articles but still bears the potential of much more direct information about these people who later were responsible for the establishment of the so-called Hyksos rule in Egypt. For this reason, the European Research Council has provided an ERC Advanced Grant with the title “The Hyksos Enigma”. No less than eight research tracks based at the Austrian Academy in Vienna and the Bournemouth University in UK try to assess an array of objectives (...).

At the beginning of this research project a very relevant book on the Hyksos appeared independently which collects and analyses all archaeological and textual material pertinent for this subject. In the following article Manfred Bietak as the leader of the above-mentioned project and as former director of the excavations at Tell el-Dab‘a, capital of the Hyksos, would like to comment on this important new publication from his perspective.

Originating from a thesis at the Macquarie University in Sydney, Anna-Latifa Mourad presents the most thorough survey of sites of the hybrid Middle Bronze Age Culture in Egypt and reviews pertinent places in the Levant alike in order to assess the phenomenon of the domination of Egypt by Western Asiatic rulers, known as the Hyksos. On top of it she also reviews all relevant inscriptions, stelae and tomb representations of Asiatic people living in Egypt during the time of the Middle Kingdom. She assembles from all this scattered evidence a picture of the foreigners who dominated Egypt in the 17th and 16th century BC. According to her analysis these settlers came from the northern Levant and contributed substantially to the culture and policy of the New Kingdom. It is one of the best books on the Hyksos ever written. The research of the author will have an impact on the above described project on the Enigmatic Dynasty of the Hyksos.

Raulwing, P. — The Dismissal of Albrecht Goetze (1897–1971) from Marburg University in November 1933 as “politically unreliable” and the Years in Exile until 1946

Like many scholars in the 1930s in Germany Albrecht Goetze, one of the founding fathers of Hittitology and Professor for Semitic Languages and Comparative Linguistics in Marburg, became the victim of the ‘Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service’ from 7 April 1933. For his unyielding support of the mathematician and pacifist Emil Gumbel, Goetze was stigmatized as “politisch unzuverlässig” (politically unreliable) and removed from his chair in November 1933. After several months in Scandinavia, Goetze was invited by the eminent linguist Edgar Sturtevant to teach at Yale. The book under review describes Goetze’s dismissal from Marburg in the context of its political radicalization in the 1920s and 1930s before and after Hitler’s Machtergreifung (seizure of power) on 30 January 1933 and Goetze’s first years in exile. Its main focus lays on the time-span leading to Goetze’s dismissal, analyzing the archival material in the Marburg university library and the Goetze Papers at Yale. Two letters in the Leiden University Library, to and from Franz Böhl regarding Goetze’s expulsion from university are published in this review article for the first time.

Keetman, J. — The Alleged Lack of Generic Terms Like “animal” and of Some Interrogatives in Sumerian

It was stated more than once that Sumerian shows archaic traits especially a lack of abstract thinking. This was demonstrated by the alleged missing of generic terms like a word for “animal”. Further it was said, that Sumerian was lacking most of Aristotle’s categories since there were no interrogatives for these categories. In this article it is shown that Sumerian possessed a word which comes close enough to our word “animal”. It is sometimes overlooked that Sumerian uses just other tools than the languages with which we are familiar but may reach the same aim. Regarding the question of the interrogatives it is shown that Sumerian was very well equipped with interrogatives. At the end of the article some problems are discussed which may evolve if we use terms like “old”, “modern” and “conceptual autonomy” expressis verbis or in the back of our mind. Such terms must not be totally banned but they should be used consciously. In an appendix yes-no questions are discussed.

Ngan-Tillard, D.J.M. and R. de Boer — Two Ur III Texts in the De Liagre Böhl Collection at Leiden

In this article two Ur III administrative texts (tablet and envelope) are presented in transliteration and translation. They were scanned with an X-ray micro CT-scanner to reveal the contents of the tablets in their envelopes.

Bausi, A. — The Recently Published Ethiopic Inscriptions of King Ḥafilā (ΑΦΙΛΑϹ): A Few Remarks

The recent publication in 2017 by Yohannes Gebresellasie and eventually by Norbert Nebes, with a commented translation and a comprehensive interpretive hypothesis, of two inscriptions in non-vocalized Ethiopic language written on bronze plaques that mention the Aksumite King Ḥafilā (ΑΦΙΛΑϹ), raises important issues concerning the linguistic and cultural-historical context of the two inscribed objects. Slightly at variance with the interpretation that privileges the Ethiopian-South Arabian connection, there appears to be evidence suggesting a closer relationship to the Aksumite linguistic and cultural context. The ʾǝlla-name of King Ḥafilā, ʾƎlla ʿAygā, is traceable in Ethiopian medieval king lists. As a hypothesis towards a better understanding of these unique written artefacts of still uncertain location and provenance, an alternative translation and interpretation of the two inscriptions is provided and a typological parallel with Roman metal military diplomas as certificates of awards is tentatively and cautiously proposed.

Book reviews and announcements

Algemeen, Faraonisch Egypte, Grieks-Romeins Egypte, Assyriologie, Hettitologie,
Semitica, Oude Testament, Archeologie, Arabica, Midden-Oosten, Islam, Varia



General information on BiOr

For authors, reviewers, and publishers

The publication schedule, guidelines for reviews and articles, and more, is found on our BiOr guidelines page. Publishers of books to be reviewed will also find useful information there.

Indexes on BiOr

Looking for a review of a specific book? All book reviews, articles, and In Memoriams published in BiOr from start to present are listed in the digitised indexes. Download BiOr indexes 1943-2022 (pdf, ca. 30 MB) and use the search function in your pdf viewer.