Fwd: [agade] OBITUARIES: For Itamar Singer (1946-2012)
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>Date: Thu, 20 Sep 2012 10:24:06 -0500
>From: jack.m.sasson@... (on behalf of Jack Sasson <jack.m.sasson@...>)
>Subject: [agade] OBITUARIES: For Itamar Singer (1946-2012)
>To: "The Agade mailing list." <agade@...>
>From Yoram Cohen <ycohen1@...>:
>Itamar Singer (26th of November 1946 – 19th of September 2012)
> “Life is bound up with death and death is bound up with life. A
>human does not live forever. The days of his life are counted.”
> (‘Prayer of Kantuzili’; translation by Itamar Singer.)
>Itamar Singer was born on the 26th of November 1946 in Dej, Rumania.
>His parents, both Holocaust survivors, met in Rumania after the War.
>His mother Gertrude came from a German-speaking family from
>Tchernovitz, Bukovina, his father Zoltán from a Hungarian-speaking
>family from Dej, Transylvania. Itamar’s father, a community leader,
>was repeatedly imprisoned by the communist regime for his Zionist
>activities, until emigration visas, after years of denial, were
>finally granted in 1958. Upon their arrival in Israel, the family
>settled in Holon, which then became home for Itamar. During one summer
>vacation from high school Itamar participated as a volunteer in the
>Arad excavations conducted by Yohanan Aharoni, his first experience in
>From 1965 to 1968 Itamar studied at the Hebrew University in
>Jerusalem, obtaining his B.A. in the departments of Archaeology and
>Geography. During these and the following years he participated in
>excavations at Megiddo, Beersheva, Tel Malhata, Tel Masos and Hanita.
>From 1969 to 1973 he fulfilled his military duty as an officer in the
>Air Force, serving as an aerial-photograph interpreter.
>Simultaneously, he completed his M.A. studies at Tel Aviv University
>in the Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures.
>His M.A. thesis ‘Geographical Aspects of the Proto-Hattian Problem’,
>written under the supervision of Aharon Kempinski, anticipated his
>future research into the ties between history, geography and theology.
>From 1973 to 1975 Itamar continued his Hittite studies with Heinrich
>Otten in Marburg. His dissertation, ‘The KI.LAM Festival’, completed
>in 1978, was published in Studien zu Bogazkoy-Texten (1983-1984). It
>was the first complete edition of a major Hittite festival and it
>quickly became a highly influential study of Hittite religion.
>Upon returning to Israel, Itamar joined the staff of the Department of
>Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures, where he became a full
>professor in 1996 and where he continued teaching until his retirement
>in 2006. Between 1984 and 1995 he also taught at other institutions in
>Itamar's primary interests in the historical domain lay in the
>international affairs of the 13th century BC, the Golden Age of what
>he has termed the pax hethitica. Many of his studies dealt with the
>diplomatic relations between Hatti and the other great powers as well
>as with the Hittite domination of Syria, and especially the kingdoms
>of Amurru and Ugarit. At the same time, his continued interest in
>Anatolian religions led to an edition and in-depth study of
>Muwattalli’s Prayer (1996). His interest in the prayer genre
>culminated in his English translations of the best-preserved ‘Hittite
>Prayers’ in the Writings from the Ancient World series (2002).
>Published in 2009, Itamar’s book ‘Ha-hittim ve tarbutam’ (‘The
>Hittites and their Culture’) was the first full-length treatment of
>Hittite history and culture to appear in Hebrew. Its publication was
>the realization of Itamar’s long-standing desire to present Hebrew
>readers with a more accessible route to a distant culture from long
>ago, one that nonetheless maintains much relevance for those
>interested in the history of Israel and the whole region in antiquity.
>This book has sparked an interest in all things Hittite for many young
>students who study Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern studies.
>In 2011 a volume titled ‘The Calm before the Storm’ (edited by
>Billie-Jean Collins) brought together over 40 of Itamar’s previously
>published studies, including his political histories of Ugarit and
>Amurru. The volume’s epilogue includes his defence of Hittite
>historiography as a response to postmodern trends in ancient Near
>Eastern studies, driven by his life long commitment to the search for
>the historical truth.
>A volume of contributions from colleagues, friends and students in
>honour of Itamar entitled ‘Pax Hethitica’ and edited by his former
>students was published in Studien zu den Bogazkoy-Texten (2010).
>In 2010 Itamar was awarded the prestigious Emet Prize, sponsored by
>the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel.
>During his long tenure at Tel Aviv Itamar carried almost
>single-handedly the banner of Hittite studies in Israel, and his
>classes and seminars on Hittite language and culture were regularly
>attended by students from numerous universities. Itamar’s commitment
>to his research and teaching was contagious, and despite the relative
>obscurity and humble resources of the field, he supervised over the
>years a large number of MA and PhD theses. His belief in and personal
>concern for his students led him to involve many graduate and
>undergraduate students in his research projects. Several of his former
>students now hold academic positions in Israel and abroad.
>Itamar was married to Graciela Noemi Gestoso, an Argentinian
>Egyptologist. Alongside his academic duties and interests, Itamar has
>been involved in various philanthropic and political activities,
>notably the Israeli Peace Movement.
>Itamar passed away on the morning of the 19th of September 2012 after
>battling a long illness.
>Yoram Cohen, Amir Gilan and Jared Miller
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