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From “Kingship in Heaven” to King Lists: Syro-Anatolian Courts and the History of the World

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AbstractI examine the literary and conceptual background of a Hurro-Hittite ritual calling on divinized royal ancestors (dšarrena), characters from Hurro-Hittite song, members of the Sargonic dynasty, a variety of kings from far-off lands, and the “lord of Hatti” (KUB 27.38). I show that the ritual provides a unique glimpse of the complex Near Eastern tradition telling the history of the world from its beginning. The ritual also helps us to understand how historical memory informed ritual behaviors that legitimated the kingship of regional rulers, allowing them access to the distant past and connecting them to world events. Overall, the šarrena ritual suggests that the histories of the divine and human worlds were linked into a single master narrative by the middle of the second millennium BCE.

Affiliations: 1: Dept. of Classical Studies, Willamette University 900 State St., Salem OR 97301 USA, Email:, URL:


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