Title

Advertising Secrecy, Creating Power in Ancient Mesopotamia: How Scholars Used Secrecy in Scribal Education to Bolster and Perpetuate Their Social Prestige and Power

Document Type

Article

Publication Title

Antiguo Oriente

Department

Religious Studies

ISSN

1667-9202

Volume

11

First Page

13

Last Page

42

Publication Date

1-1-2013

Abstract

This study investigates how ancient scholars from mid-first millennium Babylonia and Assyria advertised their possession of secret knowledge to scribal students in order to bolster and perpetuate scholarly social prestige and power in society. After a brief theoretical orientation to issues surrounding the study of secrecy and a sketch of the two-tier scribal educational model developed by Petra Gesche, the study presents evidence for advertising scholarly secrets from the circumstances surrounding the storage and handling of tablets bearing the Geheimwissen colophon and from two literary texts copied by first-tier scribes, “In Praise of the Scribal Art” and “The Standard Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic.”