Culture of Defeat examines the impact on, and responses by, the defeated parties in the aftermath of military conquest, as recorded in written sources and observed in the archaeological record. By tracing political, socio-demographic, economic and cultural transformations of the vanquished, the proposed project explores societal change caused by major traumatic events.

Conquests and military conflicts in antiquity have traditionally been examined from the viewpoint of the victor, largely overlooking the defeated party, whose experiences were often significant, traumatic, and enduring. Such a major defeat was experienced by the southern Levant after the expansion of the Neo-Assyrian Empire in the late 8th century BC. Assyria subdued the northern Kingdom of Israel in 720 BC (famously deporting the ‘Ten Lost Tribes of Israel’) and conquered the southern Kingdom of Judah shortly thereafter. These defeats resonate in the cultural and religious traditions of the region, and beyond, to this day. They are among the best documented in Near Eastern history; written and archaeological data reflect the perspectives of both the victor and the vanquished, which allows to reconstruct the aftermath of the defeat in detail. This project examines these records from the perspective of the vanquished and aims to reconstruct the impact on and responses of the defeated population.


Principal investigator



since October 2017


Joint Seminar University of Vienna and Hebrew University of Jerusalem