General Meeting Russia 2007

Minutes of the General Meeting in Moscow and St. Petersburg (2007)

General Meeting of Members of the IAA
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
53rd Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale (RAI)
Auditorium, Russian State University of the Humanities, Moscow
Those present are the members of the IAA Board and ca. 100 Rencontre participants, most of whom are IAA members.

1. Opening.
At 15.20 hours the President Jack M. Sasson welcomed the members of the IAA as well as other colleagues who attended this meeting. Anyone may participate in the discussion, but only members can vote.
The invitation for this General Meeting together with the agenda and relevant documentation having been sent to the members on the April 14, 2007 in accordance with the requirements of the Constitution of the IAA, decisions taken at this meeting are binding.
Since the Rencontre in Münster (2006) the following colleagues have passed away: A. Shapur Shahbazi, Ruth Mayer-Opificius, Tikva Frymer-Kensky, Guillaume Cardascia, Sedat Alp, Maurits van Loon, Leon De Meyer, Asger Aaboe, Donald P. Hansen, Pinhas Artzi, André Finet. Commemoration took place at the opening session of the Rencontre, Monday, July 23, 2007.

2. Report of the Secretary.
The last meeting took place at the 52nd Rencontre in Münster on July 19, 2006 and the minutes of this meeting have been communicated electronically to the members, with no objections posted back.
The Secretary reported that the IAA now has two office assistants: 1) the administrator Mrs. Renée Kalvelagen (paid by IAA), who is responsible for the membership payments, the financial administration and the credit card service to the organizing committees; 2) the technical assistant Mr. Guido Suurmeijer (paid by Leiden University), who is responsible for the websites and the membership cards and codes.
The number of members of the IAA has risen from 141 at the end of 2005, to 227 at the end of 2006, an increase of 86. Just before this RAI (July 2007) the number stood at 252. Especially during the Rencontre in Münster many new members signed up.
During the Rencontre a special desk is available to apply for new membership. Members are now asked to pay their dues at the beginning of the new year, the deadline is February 15.
Last year the office started with a credit card service for organizers who are unable to collect payments from credit cards. Since for the Russia Rencontre payments were only by credit card, this service was tested to the full. Moreover, the sums that were transferred were rather substantial and covered the fees, the accommodation and other costs. So far there have been no major problems.
For this Rencontre, membership identity cards were readied for distribution at the IAA desk. These cards are meant for new members only; the other members received a membership code. On presentation, publishers offer special discounts to IAA members in good standing.

3. Financial matters.
Financial report. The Financial report over the year 2006 is submitted by the Treasurer Jeanette C. Fincke. The report shows a balance of EUR 5,271.08, with as main revenues membership dues amounting to EUR 2,909.98. The Treasurer read the testimony of the controlling committee, consisting of D. Katz, N.J.C. Kouwenberg and Th.J.H. Krispijn, that the report accurately reflects the current state of the IAA finances. There were no questions and the general meeting unanimously approved the report and discharged the treasurer. The controlling committee was also discharged, but its members will be asked to perform the same job next year.

4. Membership
a. Affiliated members. The President briefly explained this new category of IAA members. During the past year a procedure was formulated for accepting related scholarly associations as members of the IAA. This procedure was discussed within the Board and approved. A new page was made on the website and one association applied to join the IAA membership: the Israel Society for Assyriology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies (ISAANES). The application was discussed during the meeting and the membership voted unanimously to accept ISAANES as a new affiliated member (see also under 5).

b. Life Membership. The Board decided that it is still too early to grant life memberships, the General Meeting was informed about this decision.

4. The Board.
a. Composition of the Board
According to the By-laws the Board can comprise 15 members divided over three categories: 5 members representing related scholarly associations, 5 representing the organizing committees of RAI (the preceding two, the succeeding two, and the current), and 5 administrators (President, Secretary, Treasurer, and 2 elected members).
At present, the Board consists of the following members:
– Three officers and two appointed members: J.M. Sasson (president), W.H. van Soldt (secretary), J.C. Fincke (treasurer), C. Wunsch and G. Frame (appointed members).
– Five chairs of RAI organizing committees: M.T. Roth (2005), H. Neumann (2006), N. Koslova [+ L. Kogan] (2007)], G. Wilhelm (2008), and one TBA.
– Five members of related scholarly associations: D.I. Owen (AOS), H. Neumann (DOG), D. Charpin (SEPOA), two vacancies.
The present structure restricts the movement in and out of Board membership. Therefore a proposal for a new structure has been formulated according to which the number of seats for organizing committees and scholarly associations will be reduced to four each, whereas the number of appointed members will rise from two to four. All Board members will serve a term of four years instead of the present five years. The Board members had already approved this proposal and during the General Meeting the membership voted unanimously for its acceptance.

b. Resigning members and new candidates
Shifts in Membership . One Board member (Martha T. Roth) cycles out as chair of the 51st RAI. Since only four organizing committees will now be represented also Hans Neumann cycles out as chair of the 52nd RAI. He will stay on the Board as the representative for the DOG. There is one new candidate who has acquired the support of 15 members of the IAA before the deadline of 1 July: Prof. Dr. Nicolò Marchetti. The Board already expressed its appreciation for the candidacy of this colleague. A CV of the candidate was sent to the membership three weeks before the RAI.
Representatives of Scholarly Associations.. As mentioned above, the scholarly association ISAANES joined the IAA as a member. According to the new procedure this association can apply for a seat on the Board and ISAANES has requested that Prof. J. Klein (who is also an IAA member) will take this seat.

c. New Board members
The membership voted unanimously to accept Prof. N. Marchetti as its new member. He will serve in category 1 (officers). New members in category 2 (organizing teams) will be Prof. J.-M. Durand and Prof. J. Sanmartín. The members also voted unanimously to accept Prof. J. Klein as representative of ISAANES. He will serve in category 3 (related scholarly associations). [Subsequently, Professor Klein submitted a note of appreciation and it is appended below.]
For the coming year the Board will have the following composition:
– Three officers and three appointed members: J.M. Sasson (President), W.H. van Soldt (Secretary), J.C. Fincke (Treasurer), C. Wunsch, G. Frame and N. Marchetti (elected members). There is one vacancy.
– Four presidents of RAI organizing committees: N. Koslova (Moscow & St. Petersburg 2007), G. Wilhelm (Würzburg 2008), J.-M. Durand (Paris 2009), J. Sanmartín (Barcelona 2010).
– Four members of related scholarly associations: D.I. Owen (AOS), H. Neumann (DOG), D. Charpin (SEPOA), J. Klein (ISAANES).

6. IAA initiatives
a. Logo
The Secretary displays the two logos that the Board has cleared. One was made by Georg Neumann and Susanne Paulus (Münster), the other one was by Guido Suurmeijer, technical assistant for the IAA. The Secretary reminded the membership that according to our By-laws the “Assyriology” in the IAA’s title, is conceived in its broadest sense as including the study of languages, history, and cultures of the Ancient Near East, wherever the cuneiform script was used, as well as the art and archaeology of these cultures.
The logo made by G. Suurmeijer received a clear majority and was officially adopted. The membership thanked all three designers for their contribution.

b. Memorandum of Understanding between the IAA and Eisenbrauns on the publication of RAI volumes
Over the past months, this undertaking was presented to the membership via email. The President used PowerPoint to discuss the most important points concerning this cooperation, taking into account improvements suggested by the Board and by the membership. After a brief discussion the membership voted in favor of its implementation.

c. IAA sponsorship of web-based Akkadian literature in translation (eTACT)
Cornelia Wunsch reported on the initiative and gave a presentation. There is now a site which accepts translations from each and every Assyriologist, in any modern language. The site is at, making it easy for anyone to contribute.
In answer to a question from the audience Sasson reported agreement to cooperate with CDLI Wiki, an internet site from UCLA (Bob Englund and Cale Johnson) that aims to construct comprehensive resources for the study of cuneiform cultures. Among its components is one that gives Akkadian texts in transliterations and translations. (see eTACT will be able to use its translations, with links to their pages for a more scholarly treatment of the same.
On an expressed fear that eTACT will become the normative translation, the President answered that most of these texts are also published in print and other interpretations are likely to be published. Furthermore, there will be no selection in favor of certain texts, in principle eTACT welcomes translations from any genre of Akkadian texts; we aim at the widest possible variety. After this discussion the membership unanimously voted in favor of this initiative.

d. Miscellaneous announcements
The Coopération Assyriologique has been revived by Ghent University. Michel Tanret gave a brief explanation and invited everyone to submit his announcements by sending an email to Ghent University. The formatting of the texts should be kept as simple as possible. The internet site will serve the same purpose as the earlier printed versions.

7. Honorary Council
In the past year a new procedure for the nomination of future members of the Honorary Council was formulated. The Board approved this new procedure and a webpage with an outline of the procedure was published on the IAA website. In accordance with this new procedure the Secretary nominated Prof. Dr. Klaas R. Veenhof to become a new member of the Honorary Council. Veenhof has achieved an outstanding record as a scholar in the field of Assyriology. He has had a long involvement with the Rencontre organization as head of the Steering Committee and played an instrumental role in founding the IAA, serving as its first treasurer. The General Meeting approved Prof. Veenhof’s nomination by acclamation.

8. Proceedings of past Rencontres
a. South Africa 2004
The publication of the proceedings has been delayed because of health problems of its editor, F. Vermaak. Vermaak informed the membership that the volume will appear soon.

b. Chicago 2005
W. Farber reports that the volume should be out this year.

c. Münster 2006
H. Neumann reports that good progress has been made with the collecting and the editing of the manuscripts.

9. Future Rencontres
a. Würzburg 2008
G. Wilhelm rehearsed plans for the Würzburg RAI. The topic will be “Organization, Representation and Symbols of power”. The RAI will take place in the 3rd week of July, 21-25 VII 2008. The hall for the opening ceremony has been reserved and there will be air-conditioned lecture rooms. As for accomodation, 150 double and 100 single rooms have been reserved. Participants will have to make their own reservations through the Tourist Office in Würzburg. Since Würzburg welcomes many tourists each year, Wilhelm advises prospective participants to book as early as possible. The website for this Rencontre will be online in August.

b. Paris 2009
J.-M. Durand tells about the plans for the Paris Rencontre. The congress will take place during the first week of July and the location will be the Collège de France. A topic has not yet been chosen. Accommodations can be arranged by participants themselves, as it has been done during previous Rencontres in Paris.

c. Barcelona 2010
J. Sanmartín presents the plans for the Barcelona Rencontre. The RAI will take place in the 2nd or 3rd week of July, that is, July 12-17 or 19-24. The topic will be “Time and History in the Ancient Near East”. The accommodation situation is more or less like in Paris. The General Meeting voted unanimously in favor of the Rencontre in Barcelona in 2010.

d. Other Rencontres
For 2011 Rome has been nominated, for 2012 Leiden. For 2013 there is an offer from Innsbruck.

10. New business
There is no new business.

11. Closing the meeting
The President declared this meeting closed at 16.50 hours.

W.H. van Soldt, IAA secretary,
30 August 2007
APPENDIX: Letter from Jacob Klein, regarding the ISAANES affiliation with the IAA

At the occasion of my election as a representative of the Israel Society for Assyriology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies (ISAANES) on the IAA Board I would like to provide a few words of information about the society which I represent, and thank the members of the IAA for the approval of my candidacy.

The ISAANES was founded on June 18, 1996 for, among others, the following goals: to advance teaching and research in the fields of Assyriology and related Ancient Near Eastern Studies in Israel; to encourage cooperation between scholars in Israel and abroad engaged in Assyriological research and related fields; to organize national and international meetings in the area of Assyriology in Israel; and to cooperate with related scholarly associations throughout the world.

The Society is directed by a Steering Committee, consisting of representatives of the five major Israeli Universities (Bar-Ilan University in Ramat-Gan, Ben-Gurion University in Beer-Sheva, Haifa University, The Hebrew University in Jerusalem and University of Tel-Aviv). The activities of the Society center around an annual meeting, focusing on a certain central topic, which is held in one of the above Universities by rotation, serving as chairman of the board each year is the representative of that University where the yearly meeting is to be held. The tenth meeting of the Society on the theme of “Boundaries and Border Disputes in the Ancient Near East” was held on January 29, 2007 at Ben-Gurion University, Beer-Sheva.

I see it as a symbolical gesture of recognition toward the ISAANES that after a decade of its existence, a representative of it was accepted for the IAA board, and I am grateful to the members of the IAA for the approval of my candidacy. I will try to be an active member of the board and represent the ISAANES faithfully and properly.

I would also like to take this opportunity and express my personal feelings on this occasion. For me it was a particularly significant event to attend the 53d RAI in Moscow and St. Petersburg, for two reasons: First, I am one of those few lucky Assyriologists, who had the privilege of attending the first Russian Rencontre, which was held in 1984, in Leningrad; and second, during the present meeting Israel was recognized as a noted center of Assyriological research and received a representative the IAA board. So I feel as if I closed a circle.

Finally, I would like express here, in my name and in the name of my Israeli colleagues, my deep thanks to the distinguished Russian team of Assyriologists, and especially Natalia Koslova and Leonid Kogan, who organized this successful meeting, notwithstanding the grave logistical and financial difficulties which they faced. As one who attended both meetings, the one in 1984 and the present one, I can confidently observe the following: Each one of the two meetings faced its own special difficulties, conditioned by the respective political and financial problems of their time. But in one respect, I felt no difference whatsoever between then and now: In respect to the measure of hospitality of our Russian colleagues, which had not changed with time, but continued to be exceedingly warm and wholly perfect. For all this they deserve our deepest gratitude and heartiest congratulations.