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Wine futures are no new thing...

by Otto » Sun Jun 11, 2006 12:10 pm

With all this talk of the 2005 vintage, I was surprised to find that the Neo-Assyrians were no different! Here's a futures contract in wine from the royal court of Niniveh, dated to the 3rd day of the IXth month (kislímu) of the eponym year of Sennacherib, i.e. 687 BC.

Qurbu-abu'a shall repay [x] shekels of silver of Charchemish to Bel-ahhe with 9 homers of wine, but the seah of 9 "liters", in Bit-Zamani. If he does not, he shall pay according to the market price of Ninive. [follows a list of witnesses]
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Re: Wine futures are no new thing...

by James Roscoe » Sun Jun 11, 2006 3:20 pm

Otto,
Very cool to this ancient history teacher. I need to ask why the use of the term neo-Assyrians. I get the neo-Babylonians (Chaldeans) but why neo-Assyrians? I always thought the Assyrians were one culture that lasted from the sometime in the middle of the second millenium BC to the time the Medes and the Chaldeans ran them out of business at the end of the 7th century BC or thereabouts.
Also, weren't the Mesopotamians more of a beer drinking culture? My understanding has always been that beer was the drink of choice among the ancients, especially in Egypt, but also in the Tigris-Euphrates valley. Was this just among the peasants? I like to get this stuff right when I talk to the kids.
Cheers!
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Re: Wine futures are no new thing...

by Otto » Sun Jun 11, 2006 4:00 pm

James Roscoe wrote:Otto,
Very cool to this ancient history teacher. I need to ask why the use of the term neo-Assyrians. I get the neo-Babylonians (Chaldeans) but why neo-Assyrians? I always thought the Assyrians were one culture that lasted from the sometime in the middle of the second millenium BC to the time the Medes and the Chaldeans ran them out of business at the end of the 7th century BC or thereabouts.
Also, weren't the Mesopotamians more of a beer drinking culture? My understanding has always been that beer was the drink of choice among the ancients, especially in Egypt, but also in the Tigris-Euphrates valley. Was this just among the peasants? I like to get this stuff right when I talk to the kids.
Cheers!
James


Ok. Long post ahead, sorry. The term Chaldean is out-dated. It was used to describe a people mentioned in the Bible before Cuneiform was deciphered. But now that it is deciphered we can use proper names.

The names for the Babylonians and Assyrians are both geographical and linguistic. Roughly speaking they are, however, one culture. But the languages they spoke, though very closely related, were in all likelihood incomprehensible. Also, since the cultures lived for a very long time (c.2500 BC - 100 AD) it is convenient (again in philological terms) to divide them into old, middle and neo-babylonian and assyrian (after all we don't speak of Latin and modern French as the same language do we?). So Neo-Assyrian is the language and the empire that was in North Mesopotamia c.1000 BC-612 BC (when the Babylonians and the Persian together overcame the kingdom); Neo-Babylonian is South Mesopotamia c.1000 BC - Greeks' arrival; middle-Assyrian and Babylonian c.1500 - 1000 BC; Old Assyrian and Babylonian c.2000 - 1500 BC. Also there was a period called (again a linguistic term) the Old Akkadian which was c.2500-2000 BC and IMO is conclusively proved to be a direct antecedent of Old Babylonian but NOT Old Assyrian. Babylonian and Assyrian are usually spoken of as the Akkadian language (i.e. its 2 dialects), but as I said, they probably were mutually incomprehensible so should rather be considered two closely related but separate languages.

You are right, they were more a beer drinking people. Wine from grapes was a luxury commodity and was brought in mostly from the Bekaa valley (Halbúnu, modern Helbon, was a major wine growing area). But wine, in the later periods especially, is often mentioned in texts. It is often mentioned in lists of offerings to Gods, but was certainly drunk also. Also date wine was made from local produce; grape wine of course was imported.
I don't drink wine because of religious reasons ... only for other reasons.
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Re: Wine futures are no new thing...

by James Roscoe » Sun Jun 11, 2006 5:46 pm

Thanks for the reply Otto. I think I actually understand it too! I love the eclectic knowledge on this board.
To get back to the original topic, Senacherib was getting Musar futures while he was deporting Isrealites back to Nineveh to build his library? All that and surrounding Jerusalem trying to get Hezekiah to surrender. Talk about your multi-tasking.
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The First Person ....

by TomHill » Sun Jun 11, 2006 7:37 pm

who suggests that I bought into these futures is agonna get a visit from Guido!! :-)
Tom
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Re: The First Person ....

by James Roscoe » Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:53 am

Tom,
Were you buying them from BobH.?
Cheers!
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Re: Wine futures are no new thing...

by Hannu Lehmusvuori » Thu Jun 22, 2006 5:10 pm

Oletko huomannut, että oma kotisivusi ei toimi?
Kaikki alalaidan linkit johtavat ihan minne sattuu - erityisesti yhteystiedot.
-Hannu
P.S. Aloitin suomalaiset viinisivut melko monta vuotta ennen omiasi, joten yksi yläylpistely kannattaisi korjata kenties :P
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Re: Wine futures are no new thing...

by Otto » Thu Jun 22, 2006 5:29 pm

Hannu Lehmusvuori wrote:Oletko huomannut, että oma kotisivusi ei toimi?
Kaikki alalaidan linkit johtavat ihan minne sattuu - erityisesti yhteystiedot.
-Hannu
P.S. Aloitin suomalaiset viinisivut melko monta vuotta ennen omiasi, joten yksi yläylpistely kannattaisi korjata kenties :P


Hannu,

Yes I've noticed that some of my links on my site aren't working. The problem is that I'm terribly bad with computers and despite my best efforts I haven't been able to fix them. My help is currently in Indonesia, so I have no idea when I'll get it fixed.

I'll have to correct my little introductory text. Do you mind if we switch links - once I get my site up and running proper?

Cheers,
Otto
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Re: Wine futures are no new thing...

by Bob Ross » Fri Jun 23, 2006 1:46 am

Otto, I've puzzled over this translation for several days, and I don't think this is a futures contract at all. I think it's just an agreement repay a loan in silver and in wine, with an out clause in case of need -- "market price of Ninive". Is Ninive a wine?

I can think of many contracts of this type over the years and cultures -- simple example, a share croppers contract sharing the crop 50/50 or 60/40 with the land owner. How sure are you of the context of your translation?

Regards, Bob
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Re: Wine futures are no new thing...

by Otto » Fri Jun 23, 2006 2:32 pm

Bob Ross wrote:Otto, I've puzzled over this translation for several days, and I don't think this is a futures contract at all. I think it's just an agreement repay a loan in silver and in wine, with an out clause in case of need -- "market price of Ninive". Is Ninive a wine?

I can think of many contracts of this type over the years and cultures -- simple example, a share croppers contract sharing the crop 50/50 or 60/40 with the land owner. How sure are you of the context of your translation?

Regards, Bob


Bob, you very well could be right. The context of this contract is indeed a bit hazy. As it was found among other contracts which specifically deal with merchandise payed for beforehand which will be received only later, I assumed that this would too. But without proper context, it is really hard to say. But you do have a very valid point. I'm not a historian of law or economics so contracts (which are usually economic in content) are tough for me!
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Re: Wine futures are no new thing...

by James Roscoe » Fri Jun 23, 2006 2:48 pm

Bob,
I think Ninive is just another spelling of Nineveh the capital built by the Assyrians of the Bible and made famous by Jonah. Spellings of ancient names are notoriously inconsitent and everyone has their reasons for their particular spelling. I am sure Otto will tell us why we need to update, assuming my assumption is correct.

As to the your main question, I looked back at the original too. I'm just not that familiar with futures contracts to have any idea. It still seems like as good an explanation as any other. However, as I always tell my students, context is everything. Who knows? Interesting stuff though. That's one of the reasons I left your proffession after eleven years and got back into teaching.
Cheers!
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Re: Wine futures are no new thing...

by Otto » Fri Jun 23, 2006 2:59 pm

Sorry, forgot to answer one question, but James is indeed correct: Ninive/Niniveh/Nínua is a city (modern Mosul).

Actually spellings of ancient names are rather consistent, but usually wrong: if it is mentioned in the Bible, it's spelling will usually be the Biblical one! Thus we find Nebuchadnezzar (or -rezzar) for Nabû-kudurrí-usur; Sennacherib for Sîn-ahhé-ríba, etc. ad inf. It's a bit sad that we are talking of sites and peoples by foreign names, but as they have been used for so long (long before cuneiform was deciphered) it is impossible to change this.
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Re: Wine futures are no new thing...

by James Roscoe » Fri Jun 23, 2006 3:31 pm

Otto,
I have seen at least five different spellings for Nebuchadnezzar. Yours makes six. That's also number four for Sennacherib. I won't even get into the ancient Egyptian names. At least with them you have the excuse of guessing at vowel sounds. Doesn't the same problem hold true in cuneiform? (I appologize to those of you who aren't as interested in these types of esoteric minutia. Please return to your naps. That includes you Bob.)
Cheers!
James
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Re: Wine futures are no new thing...

by Howie Hart » Fri Jun 23, 2006 4:04 pm

Otto Nieminen wrote:Sorry, forgot to answer one question, but James is indeed correct: Ninive/Niniveh/Nínua is a city (modern Mosul).

My son's Army unit depoys to Mosul in a few weeks, but he won't be studying ancient history. :(
I didn't know that was once Niniveh. Thanks for that tidbit.
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Re: Wine futures are no new thing...

by James Roscoe » Fri Jun 23, 2006 4:15 pm

Nineveh is actually outside Mosul. The person who discovered Nineveh was a diplomat living in Mosul. Most scholars at the time thought that Nineveh was a biblical myth. This was in the 1840s or 50s. Otto will straighten me out, as usual.
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Re: Wine futures are no new thing...

by Otto » Fri Jun 23, 2006 4:43 pm

James Roscoe wrote:Nineveh is actually outside Mosul. The person who discovered Nineveh was a diplomat living in Mosul. Most scholars at the time thought that Nineveh was a biblical myth. This was in the 1840s or 50s. Otto will straighten me out, as usual.


Right again James! With modern urban sprawl, Mosul goes right up to Ninua. The site of Ninua was, however, so clearly visible that it was never really "discovered". The French consul in Mosul Émile Botta, in 1842, made the first serious digs there, but the site had certainly been known before. Some European visitors actually had clay tablets as souveniers from Ninua already in the late 18th century!

Botta however quickly tired of the site because he only found accumulated mudbrick ("archaeology" back then was more treasure hunting - in fact just what American troops are doing there right now....Howie, I'm sorry to hear your son has to be there, but can you tell him and his friends to not touch anything, please. An archaeological object has absolutely no value at all unless it is found and recorded in context.). I probably didn't mention one book to you: Gwendolyn Leick's Mesopotamia: The Invention of the City (Penguin). It has a chapter on Niniveh and is serious scholarship despite being published more as a "popular history" work. Leick is also one of the few reputable schorals who writes well: clearly and even engagingly! Add this to my previous recommendations!
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Re: Wine futures are no new thing...

by Mark Lipton » Fri Jun 23, 2006 7:07 pm

Otto Nieminen wrote:It's a bit sad that we are talking of sites and peoples by foreign names, but as they have been used for so long (long before cuneiform was deciphered) it is impossible to change this.


'Twas always thus, Otto. "History was written by the winners," as they say (not true, either, but that's another topic). See how many educated people can give you Xerxes's actual name. Closer to home (for me, at least), we refer to a group of people who lived in the Four Corners region of the SW USA from 1200 BCE to CE 1250 as "Anasazi," even though it's widely recognized that that's a Navajo term (who, BTW, call themselves the "Dineh") meaning "enemy ancestors" and refers to the ancestors of the present-day Pueblo peoples (Hopi, etc.).

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Re: Wine futures are no new thing...

by Otto » Sat Jun 24, 2006 7:22 am

Mark Lipton wrote:
'Twas always thus, Otto. "History was written by the winners," as they say (not true, either, but that's another topic). See how many educated people can give you Xerxes's actual name.


'Tis Xshayárshá as any fule know! ;)
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Re: Wine futures are no new thing...

by Howie Hart » Sat Jun 24, 2006 8:38 am

Otto Nieminen wrote:Botta however quickly tired of the site because he only found accumulated mudbrick ("archaeology" back then was more treasure hunting - in fact just what American troops are doing there right now....Howie, I'm sorry to hear your son has to be there, but can you tell him and his friends to not touch anything, please. An archaeological object has absolutely no value at all unless it is found and recorded in context.).


Otto - I will forward this thread to my son and mention it next time I talk with him. In fact, it will be high on my list of recommendations, right behind "Keep your head down" and "Don't volunteer for anything". :?
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Re: Wine futures are no new thing...

by Otto » Sat Jun 24, 2006 4:31 pm

Howie Hart wrote:Otto - I will forward this thread to my son and mention it next time I talk with him. In fact, it will be high on my list of recommendations, right behind "Keep your head down" and "Don't volunteer for anything". :?


Thanks! I do think your reccos are rather more important though...
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Re: Wine futures are no new thing...

by Hannu Lehmusvuori » Sat Jun 24, 2006 5:56 pm

Otto,
Homepages getting all wrinkled up is no new thing either :D
Happy to exchange links. 8)
Hannu 'Cellar Rat' Lehmusvuori
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"If your heart is warm with happiness, you'll need a glass -
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-Hannu
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Re: Wine futures are no new thing...

by TimMc » Sat Jun 24, 2006 10:43 pm

Wine futures are no new thing, this is true...but pretty risky, IMHO.

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