This project aims to deepen the understanding of the framework of the self-world relations in the ancient Near East through the exploration of the treaty and the oath as political practices. In the ancient near eastern societies, the oath was a widely spread practice involving a religious ritual and the invocation of gods as witnesses. It was performed between states, as we have evidence in the treaties found in many archaeological sites in the area. The role of the gods in this context served as a medium between the individuals and the society they live in, or between the groups who signed a treaty and the world they lived in. Therefore, the use of an oath to create a link between the parties is a marker that allows us to better understand the patterns of behaviour and their link to the religious practices that culturally brought people together.
One of the main objectives of this project is to provide a historic-religious analysis of the so-called “Mittani treaty”, stipulated between Šuppiluliuma I of Ḫatti and Šattiwaza of Mittani, in the 14th century BCE ca. In this treaty, there are theonyms whose origin is not Near Eastern, and that may plausibly derive from South Asia. More specifically, such “stranger” names are those of the gods Mitraššil, Uruwanaššil, Indar and Našattiyanna, whose resemblance with the Vedic names of Mitra, Varuna, Indra and the Nāsatya (epithet used for the Aśvin twins), respectively, is striking. The Mittani Treaty seems to be an example of treaty in which the foreign deities act as witnesses in the context of the near eastern military and state alliances and, more specifically, in the context of the oath. Indeed, it shows how the oath as a ritual practice might have been perceived through its fundamental components (i.e. the deities) by populations and individuals who belonged to different cultural and religious contexts.
This project will explore a vast chronological period to analyse different oaths in different contexts from 2000 BCE to 1000 BCE. The boundaries of this span of time are due to the idea (Eidem, 2014; Narasimhan et al., 2019) that relevant migrations occurred from Central Asia towards the Zagros Mountains and the Indus Valley after 2000 BCE, and to the choice to focus on the Mittani treaty and on the centuries immediately after the treaty. This time-lapse would hopefully fill the lack of sources that affects the study of this period.
During the 20th century, the scholarship on the Mittani treaty was mainly focused on linguistic aspects and on the linguistic ways to explain the link between the Indo-Iranian theonyms and the Vedic religion. Such an approach also provided evidence to date more accurately the early Vedic texts such as the Ṛgveda. Instead, this project aims to deal with another aspect of the Mittani treaty, that is the very presence of the gods and their role in the context of the near eastern political treaties. While most scholars (Konow, 1921; Thieme, 1960; Fournet, 2010) underestimated and dismissed these features as odd, this project gives rise to new and insightful questions that will allow to re-explore the topic from a different perspective and a different theoretical approach.
- From 2020 – Doctoral student at the Max-Weber-Kolleg, Erfurt.
- 2015-2019 – M.A. in Historical-Religious Sciences, at University of Rome “La Sapienza”.
- 2008-2015 – B.A. in Oriental Studies at University of Rome “La Sapienza”.