Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


BABYLON Report Summary

Project ID: 241118
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Netherlands

Final Report Summary - BABYLON (By the Rivers of Babylon: New Perspectives on Second Temple Judaism from Cuneiform Texts)

Project BABYLON has thoroughly revised our understanding of the Babylonian Exile, a transformative period in the history of ancient Judaism. We have done this by drawing on hitherto neglected and unpublished texts, written on clay tablets in Babylonian cuneiform script. This material has allowed us to reconstruct the Babylonian environment of the Exile and to shed new light on the communities that built the Second Temple of Jerusalem upon their return home.

Our key achievements are:
- having contributed to opening up a new corpus of texts relevant for studying the Babylonian Exile within its historical context;
- having contextualized the Babylonian Exile as a historical process involving multiple communities in Babylonia, Juda/Yehud, and the Persian Empire;
- having conducted comparative research on aspects of cultic and social organization in Babylonia and in Second Temple Yehud;
- having pioneered the application of social science methodologies to the study of Babylonian society, and coming to major new insights as a result of this;
- having dislodged the Babylonian Exile from biblical mythology and literature by historicizing it as a social and cultural process;
- having formulated new interpretations of biblical texts, including Ezekiel and Zechariah.
- having bridged two fields of the Humanities that are kept separate by institutional practices of teaching and career development;
- having created platforms for scholars from these two fields to engage with each other beyond the lifespan of the project;

We have made our results available to scholarship as well as to the general public, through different channels. Our scholarly output appeared in 6 peer-reviewed monographs and one research monograph published by renowned academic presses. Two of these volumes are fully open access, and geared towards large audiences of ancient historians (Political Memory; in press 2015) and undergraduate and graduate students (Handbook of Babylonian Exile; forthcoming, 2016). We have published 9 articles in peer-reviewed leading international journals in the fields of Biblical Studies, Assyriology, and Religious Studies, as well as 12 articles and reviews in professional journals. Moreover, we contributed 39 chapters to co-authored monographs. Our work has appeared in English, Dutch, and Finnish.

We have engaged with the general public in several ways, including through press releases, media coverage (TV, radio), numerous public talks, informative websites, open access publishing, and the extension of expert advise to journalists, TV producers, exhibition organisers, and authors.

As a result of these activities, we have revitalized public discussion about issues that are central to Judeo-Christian tradition.Our work on the Babylonian Exile has brought this transformative period in the history of Judaism back into focus, both in scholarly and in public debate.


Alex van der Meer, (Projectcontroller)
Tel.: +31 715272409
Record Number: 183393 / Last updated on: 2016-05-26
Information source: SESAM