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Geschenke und Steuren, Zolle und Tribute: Antike Abgabenformen in Anspruch und Wirklichkeit.

Geschenke und Steuren, Zolle und Tribute: Antike Abgabenformen in Anspruch und Wirklichkeit. Edited by H. KLINKOTT, S. KUBISCH, and R. MULLER-WOLLERMANN. Culture and History of the Ancient Near East, vol. 29. Leiden: BRILL, 2007. Pp. xxix + 568, plates.

The title of the volume under review may be translated as "Gifts and Taxes, Tolls/Tariffs and Tribute (Payments): Ancient Forms of Economic Contributions as Claimed and in Reality." (I follow the blurb on the book's back cover, which renders Abgabenformen as "modes of economic contribution." Abgaben certainly means "contributions," and the translation is not out of place in describing Niehr's article on the temple in Jerusalem and Gilan's on the Hittite state cult, but the German includes various kinds of handovers of money and goods that American Anglophones would not call contributions.) The subtitle refers to the attempt by the contributors and editors to understand the reality behind the practices and terminologies of redistribution of economic goods in the ancient world. Of the editors, Hilmar Klinkott is author of Der Satrap (2005), Sabine Kubisch of Das Alte Agypten (2008), and Renate Muller-Wollerman of Vergehen und Strafen: zur Sanktionierung abweichenden Verhaltens in alten Agypten (2004), a study of deviant behaviors in ancient Egypt and how society dealt with the deviants.

The collection opens with the only essay in the section headed (as translated into English) "Economic-Ethnological Definition." In this theoretical exercise in economic anthropology (pp. 3-27), M. Rossler correlates different kinds of exchange such as ritual giving or market exchange, with different political structures such as city-states vs. territorial states, and with different stages of social development. Klinkott's "Resumee" concludes the book by summarizing the previous essays and raising conceptual and methodological issues that will need to be addressed in future work. These two theoretical pieces frame seventeen essays divided into five sections: Section I, on Egypt, contains three essays. S. Seidlmayer's piece on gifts and contributions in the Old Kingdom (pp. 31-63) examines the archaeological and iconographic evidence. S. Kubisch surveys the terminology of contributions in written sources from the Old Kingdom to the New Kingdom (pp. 65-84). The last essay, by R. Muller-Wollermann on taxes, tolls/tariffs and tribute payments in the Late Egyptian Period (pp. 87-106), is a conscious attempt to remedy the lack of attention this period has hitherto received, a situation the author attributes largely to the great Wolfgang Helck, the "Nestor" (p. 87) of Egyptian administrative and economic history, for whom "Ancient Egypt" ended with the end of the New Kingdom.

Section II, on Syria-Palestine, has four essays organized chronologically. P. Pfalzner examines what he terms "commercialized gift exchange" in Syria of the second millennium B.C. (pp. 109-23), for which textual sources are abundant. As these, notably ARM V:20, a letter from Qatna from King Ishhi-Addu, demonstrate, a king who responded to the request by his "brother" for a "gift" expected to be compensated by a second "gift" based on the market price of the original. As for the sparse archaeological record, Pfalzner argues that socio-economic theory based on gift exchange in contemporary northern and western Africa may help fill the gap, and finds a remnant of this "demanding request for gifts" during Christmas season in western counties (p. 116, n. 11).

A. Nunn very briefly addresses the problem of distinguishing consensual commerce in commodities from tribute (pp. 130-40) in the archaeological record of the Levant during the first millennium B.C. Shalmaneser's black obelisk (pp. 130-31) is clear enough, but the Al-Mina material, for example, is far less forthcoming. H. Niehr discusses the contributions to the Jerusalem Temple during the Achaemenid period in the light of biblical texts definitely or plausibly dated to that period, with some attention paid to the contemporary Aramaic papyri from Elephantine (pp. 141-57). He concludes that the cult was supported both by ancient obligations such as the tithe, and by innovations such as the direct tax to the temple. S. Schreiner studies the terminology of various financial impositions on the Jews under Rome and Persia in talmudic times, those responsible for the impositions (on the [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] p. 164, see Sokoloff, DJBA, 407), and the reactions to these impositions in early rabbinic literature (pp. 158-84). This section of the book would have profited from a general survey of gifts, taxes, etc. in the Hebrew Bible in addition to the piece by Niehr.

Section III, on Mesopotamia, has four essays, J. Dercksen makes use of royal archives from Shehna (Tell Leilan) and Mari, and the private archives of Assur and Kanish to examine the practice and terminology of taxation of commodities in northern Mesopotamia and Anatolia in the nineteenth-eighteenth centuries B.C. (pp. 187-211). K. Radner writes on contributions to the king of Assyria from within the country and without (pp. 213-30), and surveys their terminology. She concludes that with the growth of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, tribute paid by vassal princes to the Assyrian king developed into regularized taxation of the provinces for the benefit of the central administration. J. Bar examines and analyzes depictions of tribute in ancient Near Eastern art. He focuses primarily on the ninth century, when such depictions reached their peak in the reigns of Ashurnasirpal II and Shalmaneser III, and concludes with brief remarks about earlier and later depictions (pp. 231-61). This section concludes with Klinkott's essay, which makes use of Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Old Persian sources to survey taxes, tolls/tariffs, and tribute in the Achaemenid empire, against the background of the different forms of Persian administration (pp. 264-89).

Section IV, on Early Asia Minor and Greece, comprises three essays. A Gilan writes on forms of transactions in the Hittite state cult in theory and in reality (pp. 293-322). After presenting the two-sector model of Hittite society advocated by Diakonoff (MIO 13 [1967]: 313-66) and Beckman (CANE I, 340) and the unitary model advocated by Schloen, Gilan asks whether the hugely expensive Hittite cult was supported by a redistributive temple-based economy, one distinct from the communal sector, or by feudal and corvee payments in the framework of a unitary, hierarchical system. E. Kozal and M. Novak discuss gifts, tribute payments, and commodities in the Hittite Empire in the light of archaeology, and the difficulty of correlating the archaeological evidence with the written sources (pp. 323-46). Finally, D. Panagiotopoulos (pp. 347-67) examines gifts and contributions in the Mycenaean palatial system, making use of written sources in Egyptian, Linear B, and Hittite, as well as artistic depictions and archaeology. The evidence of Linear B tablets combined with the size of the storage facilities of the palaces indicates a centrally controlled system of redistribution (cf. P. Millett, OCD, 595).

Section V, Hellenism and Rome, has three essays. C. Schuler writes on tribute payments and taxes in Hellenistic Asia Minor (pp. 371-403). R. Wolters examines the forms of contribution and their development from the days of the Roman republic through the imperial period, concentrating on the terms vectigal, revenue of various kinds from public land; stipendium, originally, a cash payment; and tributum, a direct tax paid to the Roman state (pp. 407-29). A. Gruner studies the representations of presents and donations in Roman state art (pp. 431-84) and shows how these are used to express power relations between donor(s) and recipient(s).

The book's utility is heightened by copious illustrations and plates (in the captions for plates Ila, IVa, b, Va, VIIb and IXa read "Kalhu") and four indices: a subject index, an index of geographic and gentilic names, an index of personal names, and an extremely useful index to the native terms studied by the various authors. Each essay is followed by an extensive bibliography. Perhaps these should have been grouped together at the back of the book. An index of cited authors would also have been helpful, not least because it would have aided readers in identifying the earlier scholars whose work most affected the present contributors. These contributors are especially to be thanked for the efforts they have made to translate ancient economic activity into terminology, which in Kubisch's words "did not exist then" (p. 84).


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Title Annotation:Gifts and Taxes, Tolls/Tariffs and Tribute (Payments): Ancient Forms of Economic Contributions as Claimed and in Reality
Author:Sperling, S. David
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Book review
Date:Oct 1, 2009
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