Franco D'Agostino

Brief Considerations on the Use and Circulation of Silver in the Texts of Ebla/Tell Mardikh

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The present article begins with a brief introduction on the history of the Eblaic studies and a presentation of the philological and social problems raised by the documentation of the Syrian capital in antiquity (especially the nomenclature of power and the local characteristics as opposed to the coeval Mesopotamian ones). It then focuses on two aspects of the use of silver in the economic life of Ebla. The first is the use of silver as treasure, and as a measure of wealth. The sources here are the so called "Annual Silver Accounts", that is, texts in which the outcome (e3) of silver is annually registered by the Central Administration (sa-zaxki). Comparing these texts with texts accounting for the income of silver (mu-DU) it is proposed that the "treasure" of Ebla was created by the common effort of the "sovereign" (en) and of the "governors" (lugal), which can give a hint to the social and political organization of the Ebla State. The second aspect is represented by the prices (ni3-šamx) and their relation with the ki-lamxki ("[religious] fair, market"): the consideration that the same good could have a different "price" depending on the place where it was acquired can help us understand the reasons for the varying quantities of silver needed to purchase merchandise (this aspect of course needs further study; it is not here related to the issue of the "Market economy").

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