Christopher W. Jones

  • Fellowship year:2020-2021
  • University: Columbia University
  • Dissertation Topic/Category: Ancient
  • Dissertation Title: Power and Elite Competition in the Neo-Assyrian Empire 745-612 BC
  • My dissertation examines the careers of mid-level officials during the final 133 years of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. Using several thousand official letters which survive from this period, as well as analytical tools borrowed from the fields of social network analysis, organizational communication, and leader-member exchange theory, I examine the social connections, status, and career progression of Assyrian officials. Understanding empire as a dynamic process enacting power relationships which are created and maintained through communication, I argue that the expansion of the Assyrian empire in the late eighth century simultaneously expanded the number of officials and made it more difficult for them to distinguish themselves. This resulted in an often-vicious competition for status, a decrease in effective communication, and less effective governance in the seventy years leading up to the empire's collapse in 612 BC.