SFB 1369 Vigilanzkulturen

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Poppy Tushingham: Creating an Empire of Informers. Vigilance in the Assyrian Empire and King Esarhaddon’s adê-Covenant of 672 BC. Berlin/Boston 2024.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783111323435

Cover Band 10 kleinThroughout history, many states have attempted to harness the attention of their populations for their own ends. This study argues that the Assyrian Empire in the year 672 BC is such a case.

In 672 BC, Esarhaddon, King of Assyria, imposed a succession covenant (adê) on his subjects, the inhabitants of the Assyrian Empire. This covenant required the empire’s population to monitor one another, and themselves, for signs of disloyalty to the monarch and his chosen successor, Ashurbanipal. This study examines the aims and outcomes, desired and undesired, of imposing this duty of vigilance across the Assyrian Empire.

To consider the presentation and implementation of this duty of vigilance, the study draws largely on evidence supplied by the covenant and other royally-commissioned texts. To examine the outcomes of the covenant’s enactment, meanwhile, it explores cuneiform sources, such as letters to the crown, private legal documents, and literary compositions, as well as the Aramaic Story of Ahiqar and the biblical Book of Deuteronomy.

By providing a sustained analysis of the real-world implications and outcomes of the covenant, this book sheds new light on a text that fundamentally altered the political makeup of the Assyrian Empire.


Sébastien Demichel und Mark Sven Hengerer (Hrsg.): Vigilance and the Plague. France Confronted with the Epidemic Scourge during the 17th and 18th centuries. Berlin/Boston 2023.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783111026169

Cover Band 6 kleinThis book focuses on the connection between vigilance and the plague in France throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. For more than three centuries, between the middle of the 14th century up until circa 1670, the prevalence of the plague in France was said to be endemic, before it then vanished from French territory. The Great Plague of Marseille (1720–1722, which also impacted the rest of Provence, the County of Venaissin and Languedoc) proved to be an exception. During that period, the fight against the plague was deemed a top-priority along the French coast, and health institutions, called bureaux de la santé, were developed. Contributions to this book primarily focus on health vigilance from the standpoint of how to prevent an epidemic and how to respond to a declared epidemic. Among the salient themes addressed are: communications between health and different state actors, prevailing religious and political norms, and the popular participation in the fight against the plague. The use of the concept of vigilance enables the mobilisation of often rather distant branches of history, namely institutional. social, religious history, the history of communication and the history of public health.