These case studies offer new approaches to the analysis and interpretation of symbols in a variety of media and as expressed on a range of objects at different scales.
This third volume in the Material Religion in Antiquity series stems from the First International Congress on the Archaeology of Symbols (ICAS I) that took place in Florence in May 2022. The archaeological process of reconstructing and understanding our past has undergone several reassessments in the last century, producing an equal number of new perspectives and approaches. The recent materiality turn emphasizes the necessity to ground those achievements in order to build fresh avenues of interpretation and reach new boundaries in the study of the human kind and its ecology. Symbols must not be conceived only as allegory but also, and perhaps mainly, as reason (raison d’être) and meaning (culture). They may be considered key elements leading to interpretation, not only in their physical manifestation but by being infused with the gestures, beliefs and intentions of their creators, created in a specific context and with a specific chaîne opératoire.
In this volume a variety of case studies is offered, representing disparate ancient cultures in the Mediterranean and central Europe and the Near East. The thread that connects them revolves around the prominence of symbols and allegorical aspects in archaeology, whether they are considered as expressions of iconographic evidence, material culture or ritual ceremonies, seen from a multicultural perspective. This (and subsequent ICAS) volumes, therefore, aims to embrace all the different aspects pertaining to symbols in archaeology in a specific ‘place’, allowing the reader to deepen their knowledge of such a fascinating and multifaceted topic, by looking at it from a multicultural perspective.
Introduction: Guido Guarducci, Nicola Laneri, and Stefano Valentini
Symbols in Currents or Strings of Energy: Ian Hodder Some Remarks about the Representation of the Cupping-Vessel (σικύα/cucurbita) in the Ancient World: María Ángeles Alonso Alonso Abstract Depictions of Animals on Late Bronze Swords from East Georgia: Simone Arnhold, Shorena Davitashvili A Comparison between Philistine/Canaanite and Judean Iconography during the Iron Age II: David Ben-Shlomo Reflection of a Soul? Mirror-Linked Symbolism in Early Nomadic Burials (Southern Urals, Russia): Natalia Berseneva, Margaryan Kseniya The Physical Materiality of the Divine and Its Symbols: The Case of Sarapis’ Attributes in Hellenistic Egypt: Efstathia Dionysopoulou Ritual and Symbolism in the Matiate Underground City: Durmuş Ersun The Architectural System of the Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara: Its Symbolic Expression Between Social and Semiotic Sphere: Massimiliano Franci Icon – Index – Symbol. Experiencing Material Signs through Ancient Figurines: Regine Hunziker-Rodewald, Andrei Aioanei The Human Hand as a Symbol in Ancient Egyptian Thought: Christos Kekes Feminine Symbolism in the Iconography of ‘Luristan Bronzes’: Zahra Kouzehgari Images and Symbols of 12th c. BC Pictorial Pottery from Cyprus: Anna Lekka Insights from the Philistine ‘Symbol-Scape’ on Philistine Origins and Social Structure: Aren Maeir Deer Symbolism in the Kura-Araxes Culture: A View from the Village of Kvatskhelebi, Georgia: Sarit Paz Network of Symbolisms in a Private Tomb in Ancient Thebes: Maria Violeta Pereyra, Mariano Bonanno Is it the Hairstyle? Female Figurines with Hairdo in the Context of the 6th Millennium BC Imagery of the Southern Levant: Dina Shalem, Ianir Milevski, Nimrod Getzov, Ehud Galili, Anat Cohen-Weinberber
Guido Guarducci is Co-director of CAMNES and supervisor of the Department of Ancient Studies at the Lorenzo de’ Medici Italian International Institute, both based in Florence (Italy). He completed his PhD at the University of Reading (UK). His research interests mainly focus on the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age semi-nomadic communities of Eastern Anatolia and the South Caucasus, including the impact and interaction of the Assyrian empire in this area.
Nicola Laneri is Professor of Archaeology and Art History of the Ancient Near East at the University of Catania and Director of the School of Religious Studies (SORS, Florence). Since 2003, he has been the director of archaeological projects in Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran and Iraq. He has organised conferences, panels and workshops as well as presented papers at internationally recognised meetings and institutions. He has also published more than 100 scientific articles in journals and books.
Stefano Valentini is Co-director of CAMNES and supervisor of the Department of Religious Studies at the Lorenzo de’ Medici Italian International Institute. He was adjunct Lecturer at the Institute for Prehistoric Archaeology of the Near East, Masaryk University (Brno, Czech Republic) and at the Department of Archaeology, University of Florence. Field expert in Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology, he was field director of archaeological expedition at Tell Barri (Syria), Hatra (Iraq) and Hirbemerdon Tepe in Turkey.
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