Doctoral defence: Iakov Kadochnikov “Deification of kings in Ancient Mesopotamia (from III to II millennium BC)”

On 8 May at 16:15 Iakov Kadochnikov will defend his doctoral thesis “Deification of kings in Ancient Mesopotamia (from III to II millennium BC)” for obtaining the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (in Religious Studies).

Associate Professor Amar Annus, University of Tartu
Professor Vladimir V. Emelianov, Saint Petersburg State University (Russian Federation)

Professor Gebhard J. Selz, University of Vienna (Austria)

Dissertation describes the development of the historical phenomenon of the explicit deification of the Mesopotamian kings during their lifetime. The study discusses the official narratives reflected in the royal inscriptions and poetic compositions (hymns) written during the reigns of the respective kings and representing these rulers as divine beings in an explicit manner. The term “explicit deification” refers to the usages of certain direct markers of divinity (e.g. determinatives in front of the royal names, titles, and epithets) and the indirect markers indicating sacred status of the kings (mostly epithets). This dissertation focusses on the period of ca. 500 years (2250–1750 BCE), when such markers were abundant in the available sources. Two different approaches are used to analyze the assembled data. The first approach is qualitative, which engages into detailed analysis of selected sources (mostly poetic compositions and important segments of royal inscriptions) with attention to the texts’ structure, usage of divinity markers, and the context of these references. The second approach is quantitative, which employs statistical analysis of the divinity markers according to thematic variety of texts. All conclusions are drawn based on the combined results of these two approaches. Through the analyses of the thematic variety of the sources and the usage of divinity markers, this dissertation offers a reconstruction of the circumstances that led to the first explicit deification of kings in ancient Mesopotamia; it also discusses how the image of a deified king developed through the period under scrutiny and the possible reasons for kings to avoid claiming explicit divinity to themselves from the 18th century BCE onwards in their royal writings.

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