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Women and commercial networks in the Assyria of the 20th and 19th centuries BCE

Grant number: 19/12945-6
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): October 01, 2019
Status:Discontinued
Field of knowledge:Humanities - History - Ancient and Medieval History
Principal researcher:Marcelo Aparecido Rede
Grantee:Anita Fattori
Home Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):20/07395-4 - Weaving the social fabric: women and commercial networks in ancient Mesopotamia, BE.EP.DR

Abstract

At the beginning of the second millennium BCE, the city of Assur stands out in the Middle East scenario for its central participation in an important long-distance commercial network. During the so-called Old Assyrian period (20th-17th century BCE), Assyrian traders organized themselves into family enterprises. They traded textiles and tin, for gold and silver, mainly in the commercial colonies of Kanesh (Anatolia), where they also resided for long periods. Along their routes and networks, the main communication with families and partners was through epistolary correspondence. Most of these letters, found in merchant’s archives in their residences in Kanesh, have the particularity of being destined for and/or sent by the women of family enterprises. Thus, this correspondence is an important documentary source of women in the Mesopotamian context of study and has been a focus of great interest to Assyriology since the 1980s. Through these letters, women's participation in commerce is widely known, but their social agency and social places, such as their intersection on the commercial networks and the context of household, are only superficially understood. Therefore, the aim of this research is to investigate the archive of two merchants' families of Kanesh, composed by 72 letters, in order to examine the Assyrian women's social agency, trying to understand how women perform and their social construction in Assyria during the 20th-19th centuries BCE. (AU)

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