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"Seat Of Kingship"/"A Wonder To Behold": The Palace As Construct In The Ancient Near East

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Chapter Summary

The first buildings to be clearly identified as palaces date from the third phase of the Early Dynastic Period (ca. 2600-2430 B.C.), and coincide with the earliest textual evidence for titles denoting rule: Sume-rian lugal, &t;king,&t; and ensi, &t;steward&t; or &t;governor,&t; a regional title equivalent to king in the hierarchy of governance. The most complete palace plan preserved is that at Tell Brak, a site in the Habur region of northern Mesopotamia. The building is identified through bricks stamped with the name of Naram-Sin, king of Agade. The recently excavated site of Tell Mardikh (ancient Ebla) in North Syria provides us with further evidence that palaces of this period (roughly the late Early Dynastic/early Akkadian Period) were not merely residences, great houses of local hierarchical rulers, but were also centers of political and administrative activity.

Keywords: early Dynastic period; northern Mesopotamia; royal palace



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