Eleanor Bennett

Eleanor Bennett

Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology
Doctoral Researcher

Contact details

Qualifications

  • BA Ancient History (University of Birmingham)
  • MRes Cuneiform and Ancient near East Studies (University of Birmingham)

Biography

I have been a student at the University of Birmingham from 2010, starting with my undergraduate degree in Ancient History. This was the start of my interest in identity, as my dissertation was comparing homosexuality in ancient Athens and Sparta. I then continued with an MRes in Cuneiform Studies, where I began my research into the ‘Queens of the Arabs’ with my dissertation called ‘Trade or Gender – Which Was More Influential in Relations between the Royalty of the Neo-Assyrians and the “Queens of the Arabs”?’. I decided to continue this research, as there were more questions than I could answer in a 20,000 word dissertation, and so decided to continue with a PhD. Due to the nature of my research, the University of Birmingham had the best resources, and so I decided to continue my research here.

Doctoral research

PhD title
The ‘Queens of the Arabs’ during the Neo-Assyrian period
Supervisor
Dr J. Cale Johnson
Course
Classics and Ancient History PhD/MA by Research (On-Campus or by Distance Learning)

Research

In the annals of the Neo-Assyrian kings (from the tenth to the seventh centuries BCE) there is mention of a curious group of leaders called the ‘Queens of the Arabs’. Female rulers in the Ancient Near East are very unusual, and their treatment in the royal inscriptions points to them being viewed as similar to male rulers. My thesis explores why this was the case, particularly using Michael Mann’s model of power. Here ‘power’ is divided into four ‘spheres’: ‘ideological’, ‘economic’, ‘military’, and ‘political’.

The actions of the ‘Queens of the Arabs’ that have been recorded can explicitly be seen in three of these: ‘ideological’, ‘economic’, and ‘military’. The final ‘sphere’ (‘political’) is not demonstrated explicitly, but through an exploration of each of the other three ‘spheres’ it is clear that these ‘Queens of the Arabs’ held power in the ‘political’ sphere.

The second analytical tool will be gender theory. As these women were ruling in a region an period of time where the majority of the rulers were male, gender theory will enable us to see how the rulers of the Neo-Assyrian empire treated and viewed these female rulers. The very fact that these women were treated in a similar manner to male foreign rulers informs us that these women were seen as equal to other male kings.

These methods will be boosted by the integration of both textual and archaeological data from the Arabian Peninsula, which often has been overlooked in the field of Assyriology. My thesis will therefore aim to bridge the gap between Assyriology and Arabian Studies in order to create a more accurate view to the roles of the ‘Queens of the Arabs’ in ‘Arab’ society as well as misconceptions and errors in the Neo-Assyrian texts.

Publications

Conference papers

  • August 2017: Presented a paper entitled ‘Queens in the Sand: The Problems of Investigating Neo-Assyrian Battles’ at European Association of Archaeologists 2017: Building Bridges in Maastricht, The Netherlands. Received funding from the University of Birmingham for travel and accommodation.
  • September 2016: Presented a poster entitled ‘Queens at War: “Queens of the Arabs” and their Conflict with the Neo-Assyrian Empire’ at Melammu 10 in Kassel, Germany. Received funding from the University of Birmingham for travel and accommodation.
  • May 2016: Presented a paper entitled ‘The Diplomatic Roles of Samsi, “Queen of the Arabs”’ at the Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology Colloquium at the University of Birmingham.
  • May 2016: Presented a paper entitled ‘Tribes and Camels: Magees Interpretation of Assyrian Intervention in Arabia’ at the Birmingham Assyriology Symposium at the University of Birmingham.
  • April 2016: Presented a paper entitled ‘Queen Tabua of the Arabs: gender in foreign policy’ at the Oxford Postgraduate Conference in Assyriology in Wolfson College at the University of Oxford. Received funding from the University of Birmingham for travel and accommodation.
  • July 2015: Presented a paper entitled ‘Samsi, Queen of the Arabs’ at the Seminar for Arabian Studies at the British Museum, London. Received funding from the University of Birmingham for travel and accommodation.
  • June 2015: Presented a poster entitled ‘Queens of the Arabs’ at the University of Birmingham Graduate School Poster Conference, University of Birmingham.