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CALL. 31.01.2020: Epic, Society and Religion in the Ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean cultures





ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Mait Kõiv ; Amar Annus ; Urmas Nõmmik ; Janika Päll ; Vladimir Sazonov ; Ivo Volt

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We are now accepting paper proposals for the 2020 conference on "Epic, Society and Religion in the Ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean cultures". Please send the proposed title together with a short abstract (100–200 words) by 31 January 2020 to the e-mail address Acceptance of papers will be announced by 15 February 2020.

There is no conference fee but those wishing to take part without a paper should register by e-mail due to space limits; registration is open until 15 May 2020. If you need information on hotels and other practicalities, please contact the organisers at

Confirmed keynote speakers

Prof. Margalit Finkelberg, Tel Aviv University

Prof. Andrew R. George, University of London

Prof. Christoph Levin, University of München

Conference description

Narratives based on tradition have often functioned as the founding texts of the respective cultures. These texts can be composed either in verse or in prose, they can be traditionally inherited and often ascribed to a legendary author like Sin-leqi-unnini in Mesopotamia, Moses for the Jews or Homer in Greece, or composed by a particular historical person like Virgil in Rome. As crucial components of their cultures, they confirm the collective identity, and both reflect and shape the attitudes of the people and their way of life.

Such epic texts have enormous value for understanding the societies producing them. They usually relate some legendary events in a reputedly distant past, and are strongly linked to religion and mythology. On the other hand, they reflect the social relations and ideologies of the time of their composition, or of the period of the oral transmission before achieving the final literary form. The consequent multivalence, and the interplay between tradition and innovation, make a proper reading of the information they transmit highly complex and debatable. To what extent were these texts traditional and which role, if any, has a single ‘genius’ in their composition? To what extent did they transmit the traditional religious understandings or shape and transform these? How should we understand the society they describe and in which way did they, intentionally or not, shape the contemporary social and perhaps political relations? These questions will be the main focus of the conference.

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