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10510Re: Trade through Mari

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  • dp@exegesisinternational.org
    Apr 16, 2009
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      Dear List Members,

      Many thanks to those who have written with references to French resources for the enlightment of the EB-III trade going to/from Ebla through Mari and into central and southern Mesopotamia.

      Along similar lines, I have another question. In fact, this time it is more of a dilemma. The issue relates to the extent of the destruction and recovery of Ebla at and after the demise of Palace G. There seem to be two fairly divergent pictures that are painted in the sources I have before me.

      Firstly, Astour argues that Ebla's destruction, as intense as it was, was limited to the area of the Palace and a few adjacent buildings. He strictly points out that there was no occupational interruption, and thus points out with certainty that the fire did not effect the rest of the city or its occupants. He even suggests the possibility of a fire due to accident, arson, natural disaster or the like.

      As proof, he cites the enormous amount of raw lapis lazuli and other precious goods that were left behind in the apparently unsalvagable remains (though one is left to wonder how modern archaeologists could salvage them if the poor ancients were somehow left unable to do so) as proof that an invading army was not the culprit, for they undoubtedly would have seized the booty before setting the torches upon the palace.

      Secondly, Archi and company contend that the destruction was non-accidental, and far more devastating. Moreover, they refer to a complete abandonment of the entire central area of the city following the destruction. They do not state it outrightly, but they seem to imply that this destruction was far broader and more devastating than Astour would have us believe.

      Of course, Archi attributes this destruction to Mari, while both Astour and Archi consider Mari's destruction to be at the hands of Sargon. The question with which I am left is who is correct about Ebla? Was there no occupational break whatsover, but simply a walling-up of the burn-area and a return to normalcy for the occupants, as Astour suggests?

      Or, was the abandonment of the central palatial area a sign that Ebla somehow was left defunct at the level of the braintrust (and probably accompanied by the loss of its army, one is left to assume), and thus so weakened that it would be better to see this as the equivalent of the city's doom?

      I do not have the capacity for working with Italian sources, and I would prefer to hear direct input rather than the mere citation of sources, if anyone "in the know" would have a moment to comment. I offer sincere thanks in advance for any help that can be rendered.


      Doug Petrovich
      Toronto, CA

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