Archives, Bureaus and Management Systems in the Kingdom of Larsa

Part of the Why the Sciences of the Ancient World Matter book series (WSAWM, volume 4)


Building on Chap.  3’s text discussion, this chapter describes bureaus and bureau archives from the kingdom of Larsa that appear in this volume. This chapter asks ‘what do the texts studied here tell us about the environments in which they were produced’? Its purpose is to outline tacit knowledge about administrative structures that may have affected each scribe’s mathematical reasoning. Thus, the difference between bureaus, bureau archives and then personal and merchant archives are explored. Examples are given of each, including a description of actors such as Gimillum, Sîn-muštāl and Ili-iddinam, all of whom were active within the bureaus or as notables in their own rights. Four bureaus and bureau archives are introduced: a grain storage bureau, a bureau of irrigation and excavation, a grain harvest archive and a grain production archive. This chapter is supplemented by Appendix 2, a study of numeracy among the scribes who populated these bureaus and bureau archives, as well as all scribes who authored texts presented in this volume.

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Berlin Center for the History of KnowledgeMax Planck Institute for the History of ScienceBerlinGermany

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