The Assyrian Development of Elite Recognition Ethics
As an urban oligarchy embarking upon an imperial project, Assyrian elites lacked an ideological roadmap for managing the cultural differences they encountered, or for preserving their integrity as a trans-regional class. If rank, prestige goods, and landed estates distinguished the imperial elite, they were primarily bound through their personal oaths of loyalty to the king rather than a shared class consciousness. Competition is thus more visible than consolidation in elite correspondence. “Confidence” was something the king conferred instead of the common possession of a self-affirming trans-regional elite. They were therefore also incapable of framing their relations with local, subordinated elites as encounters of groups, and the Assyrian regime appears neither to have valued nor to have acquired ethnographic capital.
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