Katalin Anna Kóthay: The Provincial Ruler and the “Excellent Commoner”: Self-Representation and Social Status in Egyptian Autobiographies of the First Intermediate Period
The First Intermediate Period (c. 2184–2040 BC) in Egypt is characterised by both ancient Egyptian cultural memory and earlier Egyptology as a period of political as well as social upheaval and disruption. Recent studies have shown that the changes that occurred at the time should be understood as a profound social transition which, however, the Egyptians of the First Intermediate Period did not experience as a cataclysm. Political decentralization allowed provincial/ local leaders and powerful families to increase their wealth and expand their authority over a wider region, while a new intermediary social category (often called “excellent commoners” in contemporaneous texts) rose to wealth and status. Both the elite and the new men recorded their lives in biographical inscriptions written in their tombs and on stelae. By studying the themes and motives of these biographies, as well as their changes over time, the paper explores how the two social groups defined their identities in the new political and social climate. Social and regional variations are also investigated, as well as the relationships between biographical self-representation, social norm and social organisation.
Gabriella Dembitz: Hereré, Nojmet and Henuttawi: The Social Roles of Elite Women in Ancient Egypt in the Late Ramesside Period and the Dynasty 21
Following the death of Ramses XI, Manetho’s Aegyptiaca, the basis for modern periodisation, lists the kings of the New Dynasty, now known as the beginning of the Third Intermediate Period. This long period which lasted until 664 BC was far from homogeneous. It consisted of distinct phases including the initial phase of Dynasty 21, which was characterised by a fundamentally bipartite political situation. The period between Dynasty 21 and 25, also known as the Ethiopian period, ended with Peye’s succession in c. 722 BC. Due to the predominantly Lybian origin of the monarch and the ruling elite, this era may also be referred to as the Lybian period. Following Anthony Leahy and Karl Jansen-Winkeln, a new hypothesis has been gaining foothold in scholarship from 1985 onwards, which suggests that the changes on funerary rituals, new types of names and the increasing social role of women reflect the new Lybian elite’s influence on Egyptian society. The present study examines the purported societal differences between the Ramesside era and Dynasty 21 and the possible impact of the new Lybian military elite’s customs. Although the role and position of women in society is a hitherto neglected area of Egyptology, the lives and careers of Hereré, Nojmet and Henuttawi provide invaluable details for the interpretation of a little known period of Ancient Egyptian history.
György Németh: Ilion Citizens
A surviving citizens’ census from Ilion reveals surprising facts about the composition of the population of the city in the second century BC. It is notable that three quarters of the households consisted of single people and the number of families with more than one children was insignificant, which suggest that people practiced conscious family planning. Besides the obvious preference for single child family units, the proportion of single women and widows is also high. This implies that the mandatory guardianship of women (i.e. that women were subject to the guardianship of their father, husband or other male relative), as prescribed by Greek Law, was not adhered to in everyday life, especially at times when the number of widows increased. These women were able to live in their own households and were economically active in their own right.
Levente Takács– Dóra Gacsal: Slavery in Rome
The percentage of slaves in the whole population of the Roman Empire was at least 10% according to modern estimates. This proportion might have been higher in certain areas and in certain periods. Interaction with slaves was an everyday experience for the Romans. Slaves, although de jure they counted as chattels, constituted a heterogeneous group within society. Their ranks included miners, potters, bankers, managers, agricultural workers and so on. The slave workforce was exploited to varying degrees to for the biggest possible yield, but the way they were treated was far from identical. Slaves were not simply passive objects of society, but active participants. The brutal murder of Larcius Macedo and the Spartacus-revolt were reactions given to extreme ill-treatment. The fact that slaves did not have a distinctive characteristic, e.g. skin colour, was a special feature of the Roman slave system. Theoretically every person could become a slave. At the same time, manumission was a common occurrence, thus any slave could become free. Their legal status, competence and skills as well as their personal interactions with their masters made the world of Roman slaves’ dynamic and colourful.
Tibor Grüll: Questions of Globalisation and multiculturalism in the Roman Empire
During the reign of Emperor Traianus, the territory of the imperium Romanum was nearly five million square kilometres, home to 70 million people, one fifth of the world’s population at the time. Countless number of peoples, ethnicities and tribes coexisted relatively peacefully in the linguistic, cultural and religious diversity of the empire. The Roman Empire was a polity which, apart from a few snags, was seemingly able to manage multiculturalism for an extended period of time. It is not a coincidence that the first couple of centuries of the empire is called the era of the ‘first globalisation’: through the constant movement of goods, and subsequently that of people and technologies, the whole oikumene, the entirety of the inhabited world was united to an unprecedented degree. Based on archaeology and written sources, the study presents the spatial and temporal transformations within this historical process.
Dávid Veress: “Let Us All Have the Same Law and the Same Religion:” The Conversion of Iceland
Christianity was made law in Iceland through arbitration at the national assembly, the alþingi, in the summer of 999 (or more traditionally 1000). By so doing, the country not only managed to avert civil strife, but stimulated a cultural flowering that produced the saga literature and preserved a considerable part of Norse mythology. For the better understanding of this extraordinary chapter in the Christianization of Europe, the paper discusses the events leading up to the assembly’s decision, the unique society and the pre-Christian and Christian religious notions at the time, and compares the missionary endeavours in Iceland with those carried out in continental Scandinavian countries. It highlights some of the causes and prerequisites of the kristnitaka (“the taking of Christianity”), and gives a detailed account of the politico-religious actions of late tenthcentury Iceland.
Tamás Szemethy: Difficulties of Correspondence on the Southern Italian Front in the War of Polish Succession
The War of Succession which broke out after the death of Polish king, Augustus II, in 1733 is mentioned in Hungarian scholarship mostly on account of the treaty that ended the conflict: Francis of Lorraine, Maria Theresa’s husband, renounced his claims to Lorraine as his inheritance which in turn entitled him to appropriate Tuscany after the death of the last Medici. The present study, however, focuses on a different aspect of the war and its progress. Szemethy examines the Csáky correspondence held at the National Archives of Austria to reconstruct the available means of communication connecting officers of the Csáky Regiment in the remote and hard-to-access southern Italian areas and their general, György Csáky residing in Sopron and Vienna. The corpus, especially the letters smuggled across the frontline after the defeat at Bitonto on 25 May, 1734, reveals substantial changes in the mode and content of the hussars’ communication with their regiment owner.
Levente Pakot: Social Standing and Family Planning in Western Transdanubia: Bük, 1850–1939
Even though the history of decreasing birth rates in nineteenth- and twentiethcentury Europe is a relatively well-researched subject, its causes and particulars remain obscure. One of the main reasons for this is that scholarship continues to pay little or no attention to individual and micro-level data. Through the multivariate analysis of individual and longitudinal data, the present study examines the birth rates across several decades in a mixed-denomination (Catholic and Lutheran) settlement in Western Transdanubia in the age of rapid industrialisation in the second half of the nineteenth century. One of the main research questions concerns the denominational and social patterns of birth rates before and during the decades of demographic transformation. The analysis suggests that prior to the transformation, the desire to have children was the highest among the upper echelons of local society (intellectuals, office workers) and the lowest among the lower rungs (day labourers, manorial servants). The subsequent decades of demographic transformation fundamentally uprooted the existing social patterns of birth rates and number of children. The transformation is best described as a divergent social process lasting for several decades: switching to a nuclear family pattern was first adopted by the upper social strata, with the local artisans and skilled labourers following suit. It was then adopted by the landed peasants and, finally, the lowest layers of society. Although the desire to have children was seemingly somewhat lower among Lutherans than Catholics, this discrepancy can be explained by the demographic and socioeconomic differences between the two denominations. Besides controlling the number of children, the decrease in birth rates was also a result of consciously increasing the interval between childbirths, a strategy adopted to a previously unprecedented degree during the years of the Great Depression.