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Open Access Publications from the University of California


The Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures is concerned with the languages, literatures, and civilizations of the ancient, medieval, and modern Near East. The Department offers specialized training in Archaeology, Art History, Assyriology, Egyptology, Iranian Studies, Judaic and Islamic Studies, Comparative Semitics, Turkish, Hebrew, Arabic and Persian.

Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures

There are 39 publications in this collection, published between 1905 and 2024.
Berkeley Working Papers in Middle Iranian Philology (4)

A New Middle Persian Document from Hastijan belonging to the Farroxzād Family

This study publishes a first edition of a newly-discovered Middle Persian document located in a private collection but stemming from the area of Hastijan, Iran. It is related to the ‘Pahlavi Archive’, the majority of which is held in the Bancroft Library of the University of California, Berkeley, and the contents concern the family of a certain Farroxzād, mentioned in several other documents in the archive.

Towards a Manifesto for Middle Iranian Philology

The purpose of this manifesto is to raise broad questions about philological inquiry as a background to the purpose of this occasional journal. It reflects both on general questions of philology (Section 2) and delves into an example from the Middle Persian translations (Zand) of the Avesta in which can be seen a clash between the traditional approach in that field and the type of inquiry that I advocate here (Section 3).

A newly discovered Middle Persian funerary inscription from Mount Zaneh

Mount Zaneh is among the mountains of Marvdasht located in the current municipality of Abarj. The mountain has long attracted scholarly attention for housing a rich variety of scattered archeological remnants from the Elamite up to the Sasanian eras. In particular, there are two ancient ossuaries whose patterns resemble the ossuaries in Naqsh-e Rostam. This study introduces and deciphers a newly-discovered six-line Middle Persian inscription in the skirts of Mount Zaneh. The inscription is comparable with other funerary inscriptions in Middle Persian.

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Papers (3)

The Climate Crisis, Cultural Heritage, and the Future of Middle Eastern Archaeology

Climate scientists project that rising global temperatures will substantially transform the Middle East during the remaining decades of the century. These changes will also impact the region’s cultural heritage, particularly its documentation and management. This article reflects on how archaeologists can respond to these changes now and in the near future.

The Nachlass of Walter B. Henning: An Annotated Inventory

After Walter Bruno Henning’s untimely death in Berkeley (CA, USA) in 1967, his work materials, correspondence, and personal library seem to have remained in his home for some years. Contemporaries of Henning’s were convinced that his estate contained unpublished work of great value, and complained, sometimes bitterly, that they were prevented from making use of them. Yet some materials were in fact sent to colleagues, for at least several years after his death. But after this time, it does not appear that Henning’s unpublished work or other materials continued to be used by other scholars. His Nachlass re-surfaces in 1992 in the Guide to the Archival Materials of the German-speaking Emigration to the United States after 1933, where it is listed as still in Berkeley in the possession of his son-in-law Theodor B. Kahle. By 2008, the Nachlass (including unpublished working materials, correspondence, and personal library) was accessioned by the Deutsches Exilarchiv 1933-1945, part of the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek (Frankfurt, Germany). This inventory has been made on the basis of my personal inspection of the entire Nachlass at the Deutsches Exilarchiv during visits in 2022 and 2023.

Peter B. Cornwall Collection Assessment

In 2008-2009, the authors performed a collections assessment on the Peter B. Cornwall Collection at the P.A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology. The document describes the collection's history, its contents, and avenues for future research.

Postprints (19)

Face-to-Face with the Past: Reconstructing a Teenage Boy from Early Dilmun

Since 2008, the Dilmun Bioarchaeology Project has analyzed the human skeletal remains and artifacts that Peter B. Cornwall excavated from Bahrain in the 1940s, now held in the Hearst Museum of Anthropology. One mode of interpretation and dissemination pursued by the DBP team is forensic facial reconstruction. The subject of the first reconstruction is a twelve- to fifteen-year-old male who lived during the Early Dilmun period (ca. 2050–1800 b.c.e.). The resulting sculpture incorporates skeletal data about his identity and health as well as visual cues grounded in archaeological and sociohistorical contexts. It will be one of two reconstructions at the center of a traveling museum exhibition beginning in 2013. The goal of the exhibition is to present members of past societies to the interested public in a tangible fashion that encourages empathy and an appreciation of our shared humanity.

Stable Isotopes of Archaeological and Modern Semi-Terrestrial Crabs (Potamon potamios) Provide Paleoecological Insights into Brachyuran Ecology and Human Resource Acquisition in Late Holocene Jordan

Archaeological remains of brachyurans (e.g. crabs) are often overlooked as potential paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatical proxies in contrast to other marine and terrestrial invertebrates such as mollusks and landsnails. The potential for fine-scale regional paleoclimate reconstruction based upon these organisms' behavioral ecology has yet to be examined. We present novel isotopic analyses of the remains of a semiterrestrial freshwater crab (Potamon potamios) endemic to southwest Asia recovered from the archaeological site of Khirbat al-Mudayna al-’Aliya (KMA). KMA lies on a southern tributary of the Wadi al-Mujib in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, approximately 40 km east of the Dead Sea. Excavations here recovered architecture, artifacts, and ecofacts dating to a single-period occupation during the early Iron Age (∼1000 cal BCE). Oxygen and carbon isotopes from these brachyuran remains were analyzed in conjunction with a two-year isotopic and morphometric study of the modern potomonautid population near the archaeological site and at nearby wadi systems to assess whether the isotopic values of modern crab populations correlated with variables such as temperature, including isotopic study of the pools in which crabs were found. In turn, these data could be used to reconstruct paleoclimate or paleoenvironment in the archaeological population. The high correlation in oxygen isotope values between crab carapaces and the water of the pools in which they were sampled suggest that variability in isotopic values of crab specimens recovered from KMA is tracking ancient human capture of these organisms across potentially different pools. Further, intra-year variability in isotopic values in modern crab carapaces as well as the similarity of isotopic values across wadi systems with different environments suggest that P. potamios remains cannot be used as reliable paleoenvironmental indicators. The implications of this research will have significance for archaeologists and other researchers in the study of paleoenvironment and paleoecology, and bears upon human mobility, resource acquisition, and human-nonhuman animal relationships.

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University of California Publications in Egyptian Archaeology (8)
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