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Archive And Library Structures And Personnel In Hittite Civilization

Thursday, July 11, 2024 (11:00 AM - 12:00 PM) (EDT)

Description

One constant aspect for libraries and librarians is that both rely on written sources for their existence and continuity. In this regard, writing is the most important element underlying librarianship. Indeed, after the creation of the earliest known form of writing by the Sumerians, the establishment of the first libraries began with the preservation of written sources within enclosed structures. In parallel with this development, administrative personnel responsible for these structures emerged with the necessity of classifying, preserving, and ensuring the continuity of the increasingly growing written sources in a certain order. Although this element of librarianship continues to exist on the same foundations today, there are significant distinctions in terms of conditions, understandings, and systems between the Bronze Age and the present. First and foremost, unlike the universal scope of librarianship in modern times, during the Bronze Age, due to literacy being limited to certain professions such as scribes, merchants, and the clergy, librarianship was a profession practiced primarily in political fields such as administration, international relations, etc., serving the administrative class rather than society as a whole. While this reality may appear far from universal, it does offer positive conditions for librarians, particularly in terms of understanding. Primarily, librarianship in the minds of Bronze Age civilizations was perceived as an extremely difficult, rare, yet vital profession representing one of the most important parts of a state's formation, functioning, and development mechanism. In an era when not everyone could be literate, not everyone could be a librarian along the same logic, and those who could were required to undergo a difficult, long, and disciplined education process. The main reason for this was the active use of knowledge as a power element, which was only in the hands of the elite among the literate, namely the scribes. Indeed, in the Hittite Civilization, which is known for establishing the first political unity in Anatolia, kings always kept scribes in their retinue to use this power. Upon examining the cuneiform texts dating back to the Hittite Imperial Period, it is observed that kings not only entrusted scribes with diplomatic negotiations between states but also with administrative governance tasks. King II. Muvattalli, for instance, entrusted the administration of the former capital HattuĊĦa to the chief scribe Mitannamuva during his reign (1295-1272 BC), ensuring the continuation of his profession by his descendants. Beyond the high positions held by librarians or scribes according to the conditions of that era, their most important services/achievements lie in immortalizing a civilization in a way that reaches thousands of years into the future, up to the present day. Thanks to archaeological studies conducted in the last century, the Hittite Civilization has been brought to the modern world by being unearthed from thousands of years of soil. However, the recognition and understanding of the civilization have been made possible by deciphering the written findings left by that civilization's scribes. In a sense, while archaeology quietly reveals civilization, it resonates loudly in the scientific world through philology, beginning to be truly recognized. The foundation of all these achievements began with the scribes who lived during the reign of the kingdom, creating written materials and preserving them within the scope of librarianship, ensuring their continuity. Building upon the motivation briefly described above, the purpose of this study is to enable modern librarians to understand the importance of librarianship by looking at the history of their profession and their past colleagues from the perspective of the Hittites, an ancient civilization that existed thousands of years ago. 1. Understand the historical significance of librarianship in ancient civilizations, particularly focusing on the role of scribes in preserving written materials and contributing to the continuity of knowledge. 2. Analyze the differences between librarianship in the Bronze Age and modern times, including the societal contexts, scope, and perceptions of the profession, to gain insights into the evolution of libraries and librarianship. 3. Evaluate the impact of written sources and the work of scribes on the preservation and dissemination of knowledge, utilizing case studies from ancient civilizations such as the Hittites to illustrate the importance of librarianship in shaping our understanding of history and culture.
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Cathy Nash
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Thursday, July 11, 2024 (11:00 AM - 12:00 PM) (EDT)
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