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Title: Judaean political organisation (104-76 BCE)
Author: Ryan, Daniel Thomas
ISNI:       0000 0004 7227 625X
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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The thesis seeks to more accurately understand Judaean political organisation during the reign of King Alexander Jannaeus (104-76 BCE). I suggest that the balance of evidence does not support an understanding of Hasmonaean Judaea as a militaristic patrimony. That is, I dispute a view of Judaean social order as dominated by the centralised leadership of the Hasmonaean king and of Judaean political structures as overwhelmingly militaristic. To be sure, militarism and kingship are important to understanding the social arrangement of Judaea at the turn of the first century BCE. However, political research based on a literal reading of textual sources tends to overemphasise these factors. Instead, I here advocate using economic activity, of which bronze monetary exchange is reasonably well attested for Hasmonaean Judaea, to infer probable features of Judaean socio-political organisation. I note that the system of monetary exchange in Judaea is among the least complex of Hellenistic kingdoms at Jannaeus’s time. I propose that the most likely conclusion is that Jannaeus had a more limited political influence over societal organisation than is commonly ascribed. The relatively underdeveloped monetary system in Judaea indicates that monetary exchange likely existed in combination with local transactional frameworks, including local arbitration, payment in kind, and the manipulation of labour by regional strongmen than we might suggest for Pontus under Mithridates VI or Parthia under the early years of Mithridates II. In extrapolating to the wider issue of Judaean political organisation, this casts doubt on the ability of the Hasmonaean monarchy to forcefully Judaise, effect change in local power hierarchies, or play a defining role in Phoenician military struggles. Rather than a militaristic patrimony ordered by the diktats of a tyrannical Jannaeus, Judaean political organisation was more likely a cooperative network of local power brokers, regional administrative frameworks, and independent cultural and economic systems.
Supervisor: Aitken, James Sponsor: AHRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Hasmonaean ; Numismatics ; Second Temple Period ; Judaea ; Political economy ; Coinage