Non-binary in Babylonia?

Through a study of Akkadian words for non-binary gender, such as assinnu and kurgarrû, the essay argues that we cannot achieve any secure knowledge about the biological sex of ancient individuals. Instead, our most viable option is to study the cultural dynamics that determined how gender was depicted.

“‘Only in dress?’ Methodological concerns regarding non-binary gender,” in Gender and Methodology in the Ancient Near East, edited by Stephanie Lynn Budin, Megan Cifarelli, Agnés Garcia-Ventura, and Adelina Millet Albà, Barcino Monographica Orientalia 10 (2018, Barcelona: Edicions de la Universitat de Barcelona), pp. 41–53. Link.

Authors at Uruk

A text known as the “Uruk List of Kings and Sages” uses the names of ancient authors to present a tiny synoptic overview of cuneiform culture. In this otherwise fully anonymous culture, authors became important during times of crisis, since they could represent, organize, and condense an imperilled tradition.

“The role of authors in the ‘Uruk List of Kings and Sages’: Canonization and cultural contact,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies, vol. 77, no. 2 (October 2018), pp. 219–34. Link. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/699166

The uncertainty of death

In a monologue on mortality from the tenth tablet of Gilgamesh, the sage Uta-napishti depicts death through a set of poetic paradoxes: death is both certain, since it cannot be avoided, and uncertain, since we cannot know anything about it. The essay studies how Uta-napishti represents what he claims to be unrepresentable.

“Babylonian perspectives on the uncertainty of death: SB Gilgamesh X 301-321”, Kaskal, vol. 14 (2017), pp. 211–19.

Mess O’Potamia returns

Drawing on a skit from Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, the essay argues that the notion of “Mesopotamia” can be used to evade or reconcile the contradictions that surround the modern nation of Iraq. The simple-looking concept of a single Mesopotamia belies a deeper complexity, produced by clashing discourses and historical shifts.

“The return of Mess O’Potamia: Time, space and politics in modern uses of ancient Mesopotamia”, Postcolonial Studies, vol. 19, no. 3 (December 2016), pp. 305–24. Link. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13688790.2016.1264250

Emotions in Gilgamesh

My MA thesis examines the depiction of emotions in Gilgamesh. It focuses first on the love between Gilgamesh and Enkidu, then on the grief that afflicts Gilgamesh when Enkidu dies. I argue that the affective bond between the two heroes leads to a dynamic interplay of difference and identification.

“Emotions in Gilgamesh: Desire, grief, and identity in the Standard Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh.” Unpublished MA thesis, University of Copenhagen (August 2016).

Ironic self-citation

As a preliminary study for my subsequent article on the “two-act structure” in Akkadian epics, this note shows that certain phrases from the first half of Atra-ḫasis are repeated in the second half, but with the opposite meaning.

“Contrast through ironic self-citation in Atra-ḫasīs,” in Nouvelles assyriologiques brèves et utilitaires, vol. 2015, no. 4 (December 2015), pp. 158–60, entry no. 95. Link.

Akkadian rhythm

The article (my first) proposes a new understanding of rhythm in Akkadian poetry. Following a suggestion by Wolfram von Soden, shows that analysing the prosody of Akkadian poems as a sequence of trochees and amphibrachs can reveal a dynamic medium for literary expression.

“Rhythm and expression in Akkadian poetry,” Zeitschrift für Assyriologie vol. 104, no. 1 (June 2014), pp. 56–73. Link. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/za-2014-0003