Research Programs: Summer Stipends

Period of Performance

7/1/2007 - 9/30/2007

Funding Totals

$5,000.00 (approved)
$5,000.00 (awarded)

The Emergence of "The People" As a Political Concept in the Ancient Northwest Semitic Lexicon

FAIN: FT-55331-07

Seth Larkin Sanders
Albright Institute (Arlington, VA 22207-1210)

This historical-linguistic project traces a stream of ancient Near Eastern language and culture in which the populace is conceived as the fundamental unit of politics. The concept is traced in a set of etymologically related words for “people,” “tribe,” and “nation” in Northwest Semitic languages spoken by the tribal societies of Mari in the early second millennium through the urbanized society of late first millennium B.C.E. Judah. The words' shifting semantics and pragmatics reflect social and ideological shifts: as their speakers encounter empires and writing, “the people” become the protagonists of written history. Old tribal concepts are recast in new modes that eventually provide an enduring political model via the Hebrew Bible.