The Burning of Captives in the Assyrian Royal Inscriptions, and Early Neo-Assyrian Conceptions of the Other
This paper is a study of the topos of the king burning captives in the Assyrian royal inscriptions. This punishment is notable for both its rarity and its cruelty, being the only time that the royal inscriptions describe violence towards children. I approach this topic in terms of Donald Black’s model of social control, in which the form and severity of social control, including violence, varies in relation to the “social geometry” that separates the parties involved in a dispute or conflict. I argue that in the royal inscriptions burning is inflicted on those that the Assyrians saw as “uncivilized”: peoples inhabiting poorer cities in mountain regions who lacked the infrastructure necessary to stockpile prestige goods, such as precious metals, and were separated at a greater distance from Assyria by “social geometry” than other foreigners. These findings provide a useful insight into Assyrian conceptions of the other and give a better understanding of the variations in the severity of punishments inflicted by the Assyrians on their enemies.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2021 Studia Orientalia Electronica
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.