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Ms. Julia Giessler - "The Practice of Body Marking in Akkadian Texts of the 2nd and 1st Millennia"

The dissertation project will examine the Akkadian evidence for tattooing, branding, and other forms of markingand modifying the body. In contrast to the Sumerian sources, the considerable evidence from more recent Mesopotamian sources has never been subject to a systematic investigation. The goal of the project is to collect and analyze the sources along phenomenological and terminological lines.

The first part will address the basic question of actors and techniques in marking. Which animals and persons or groups or persons were marked? Which body parts were used? How and by whom were these actions performed? These questions will provide the basis for subsequent chapters on individual forms of graphic marking. These include personal names applied to the hands of slaves as owner's marks, other forms of written marking, and various divine symbols which connected a living being to a particular temple. The function and contexts of these and other markings on the body can then be compared. The economic and legal texts which provide the greater part of the evidence suggest that shaping and modifying the body served primarily as a was of identifying ownership and as a marker of status among lower social classes. To these we can compare the more poorly attested function of markings in everday society as well as in cultic and religious contexts. This last comparison also entails an investigation of the relationship between artificial and naturally occurring or divinely issued markings on the body.


Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Eva Cancik-Kirschbaum, Dr. Rosel Pientka-Hinz, PD.


Financial support provided by the DFG graduate school 1458 („Schriftbildlichkeit“: Über Materialität, Operativität und Wahrnehmbarkeit von Notationen).