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How Mesopotamian Scribes Learned To Write Legal Documents

RRP $466.99

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This is a remarkable and important work that provides insight into social and economic activities provided to us in the cuneiform records of ancient periods revealing how these activities were negotiated and regulated by laws and contracts, through records of the Sumerian model contracts from the Mesopotamian scribal school curriculum. It is an essential reference work for any student of ancient Mesopotamian history and comparative law. In the Mesopotamian school, scribal students were prepared to assume many responsibilities. Among them was the writing of functional contracts (i.e., those used in actual legal proceedings) and other legal documents. A large number of these functional documents have been preserved and published. Student scribes learned to write them by preparing practice examples. These include model contracts, model court cases, model letters, and models of public announcements. That phase of scribal training represents the closest Mesopotamia ever came to developing a law school. An introduction to this work overviews the book and discusses the effort made in it to discover the provenience and period of composition of the documents, the importance of personal names and the need of attention to paleography for this investigation, and the use, and the use of functional contracts in the process of restoring lost and obscure readings. A survey of past study discusses work done, explains the usage of terms, relates the model contracts to other school documents, and locates them at the intermediate level of Mesopotamian scribal education. The texts are set forth in transliteration and a literal translation, which are arranged side by side in order to make clear the author's understanding of the documents.



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