Prof. Amnon Altman
Professor Amnon Altman passed away on Shmini Atzeret, on the eve of the present academic year, at the age of 81. Dr. Idan Breier wrote in his memory:
Professor Altman completed all of his degrees at Bar-Ilan University, and taught here for decades, until his retirement. He held a joint appointment in the departments of Jewish and General History, and was one of the founders and members of the S.N. Kramer Institute of Assyriology at Bar-Ilan.
Professor Altman’s doctoral dissertation, written under the late Prof. Pinchas Artzi, dealt with the land and kingdom of Amurru in the years 1500-1200 BCE. He investigated the complex process of the establishment of a semi-sovereign state along the Syrian-Lebanese coast under Egyptian domination of the area. He then published a number of studies on the political history of Syria, as a battleground between three empires: Mitanni in northern Mesopotamia, Hatti in Anatolia and Egypt. This led to his groundbreaking book, The Historical Prologue of the Hittite Vassal Treaties: An Inquiry into the Concepts of Hittite Interstate Law (Bar Ilan University Press, 2004). This in turn led to Tracing the Earliest Recorded Concepts of International Law: The Ancient Near East (2500-330 BCE) (Brill, 2012). An even more recent book, on international treaties, will be published in Hebrew by Mosad Bialik.
In his teaching, Professor Altman used to translate ancient documents into Hebrew so that his students could read and discuss them in class. His extensive use of visual aids such as slides (many years before the use of Powerpoint and similar aids were common) made learning with him a memorable experience. Professor Altman’s intellectual honesty and personal modesty earned him the respect of his colleagues, students and all who knew him.