Identification of a princess under incomplete information

An Amarna story

Serdar Güner, Daniel Druckman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article presents four analyses of an interaction between the middle-Bronze Age Pharaoh Nibmuarea and the Babylonian king Kadashman-Enlil as described in the Amarna letters (Moran [1992] The Amarna Letters, The Johns Hopkins Universiy Press, Baltimore, Maryland). Intent on denying the Pharaoh his daughter in marriage, the Babylonian king was faced with the choice of sending messengers who could ("dignitaries") or could not identify ("non-dignitaries") his missing sister in the Pharaoh's court. Intent on marrying the king's daughter, the Pharaoh was faced with the choice of showing the sister or showing someone else. Based on the assumption of complete information (game 1), the analysis revealed a dominant-strategy equilibrium: Nibmuarea shows the sister and Kadashman-Enlil sends non-dignitaries. Based on the assumption of one-sided incomplete information (Pharaoh's misperception; game 2), the analysis revealed that the Pharaoh had a dominant strategy of showing the sister irrespective of whether the king is keen or reluctant to learn about his sister's fate. Based on the assumption of one-sided incomplete information (Kadashman-Enlil's misperception; game 3), the analysis revealed that if non-dignitaries are sent, the Pharaoh prefers showing someone other than his sister. Based on the assumption of two-sided incomplete information (game 4), the Pharaoh finds it more beneficial to present the sister irrespective of whether his intentions are genuine or feigned. With incomplete information, it is difficult to judge the other's intentions; the cost of being caught cheating by not showing the sister to knowledgeable messengers was quite high. These analyses highlight the strategic uncertainty that characterized this Bronze-Age interaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-407
Number of pages25
JournalTheory and Decision
Volume48
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

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