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Between proximity and distance: interactions between human populations and fauna in ancient Mesopotamia

Grant number: 22/01388-1
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctoral
Effective date (Start): July 01, 2022
Effective date (End): June 30, 2025
Field of knowledge:Humanities - History - Ancient and Medieval History
Principal Investigator:Marcelo Aparecido Rede
Grantee:Andrea Vilela
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


This research aims to study the interactions existing between human populations from Mesopotamia and this region's fauna through the analysis of textual sources and the information those latter can provide regarding the different levels of proximity and distance established between people and animals. The focus will be on Sumerian and Akkadian texts prone to contain indications about the observation frequency of different species and, by extension, about the possible proximity existing between them and human beings. The main characteristic of the documents used for this study will therefore be their propension to provide detailed denominations and descriptions for animals. Are thus concerned texts such as the Sumero-Akkadian bilingual lexical list HAR-ra = hubullu, the omen collection shumma alu ina melê shakin as well as the Sumerian and Neo-Assyrian proverb collections. Since many Neo-Assyrian texts (911-612 BC) are the result of a long evolution and have sources dating back to the Old Babylonian period (ca 2000-1595 BC), the material used in this research will be from both of those key periods in Mesopotamian history. By such, we wish to offer a complete vision of the relationship this civilization had with faunal elements. Indeed, studies about the relation humans had with animals is well represented in historical research, one can note that there are no works concerning daily life interactions with fauna in Mesopotamian texts. Furthermore, patterns of proximity and/or distance existing with different animal species in this civilization have yet to be considered as a research subject. Through the means of a transdisciplinary approach, in which historical analysis is to be enlightened by methodological elements from other fields such as anthropology and ethology, this work aims then to complete our knowledge and understanding of the complex relationship Mesopotamians had with animals as well as, by extension, with their environment. (AU)

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