The Babylonian socio-economic landscape as mirrored in the archive of a priestly family in the first millennium BC


The aim of this research is to gain a deeper understanding of social relationships in Neo-Babylonian society (late-seventh – late-fourth century BCE). I will reach this aim by providing the editio princeps and an in-depth analysis of hitherto unpublished Neo-Babylonian cuneiform tablets, once belonging to the archive of the Ilia family. This priestly clan lived in Borsippa, the second most important city of Babylonia (today southern Iraq).
The Neo-Babylonian period features truly ground-breaking developments, such as the change from traditional modes of production towards a market-oriented and monetized urban society. Although in the past 30 years considerable progress has been made, both in the publication of texts and in their interpretation, many texts are still undeciphered and the social landscape of the period remains underexplored. Circa 2.200 cuneiform tablets stem from Borsippa, but only a fraction of them has been published. Borsippean texts therefore form the most conspicuous still unexplored corpus of private archives from first-millennium Babylonia.
By editing and studying one of the largest archives from Borsippa – I have been able to trace circa 300 tablets belonging to the Ilia A-archive so far – I will be able to reconstruct the family members’ biographies and social statuses. Their socio-economic micro-histories are perceived as mirrors reflecting the historical and socio-economic developments on a larger scale (macro-level). The micro-data will be contextualised and compared with other (published) private archives from the period in order to gain a deeper understanding of the social environment of urban elite in first-millennium Babylonia.





Prof. dr. K. Kleber

Verbonden aan

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Letteren


L. Cecilia


01/08/2019 tot 31/07/2023