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From bābānu to bētānu, Looking for Spaces in Late Assyrian Palaces

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on textual sources as reflecting the problems inherent in attempts to reconstruct the Late Assyrian palatial topography. It traces the social organisation of the palaces and related socio-cultural views. The duality between public and private spheres as conceptualised in Late Assyrian palaces is often articulated by using the Akkadian expressions bābānu and bētānu, which can be translated as "outside" (a substantive derived from babu "gate") and "inside". More recent and better documented palaces, such as Versailles and Topkapi, provide good examples of the importance of access. There are several factors hampering the reconstruction of a palatial topography from the Late Assyrian textual sources. The limited amount of attestations of specific terms makes interpretations even more complicated. In fact, the texts only provide topographical elements, i.e. different spatial designations, which can neither be correlated together nor do they form a coherent whole.

Keywords: Akkadian expressions; Assyrian Palaces; Late Assyrian palatial topography; Topkapi; Versailles



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