The Mythology of Kingship in Neo-Assyrian Art

Overview

The relief slabs that decorated the palaces of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, which emphasized military conquest and royal prowess, have traditionally been understood as statements of imperial propaganda that glorified the Assyrian king. In this book, Mehmet-Ali Ataç argues that the reliefs hold a deeper meaning that was addressed primarily to an internal audience composed of court scholars and master craftsmen. Ataç focuses on representations of animals, depictions of the king as priest and warrior, and figures of ...

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Overview

The relief slabs that decorated the palaces of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, which emphasized military conquest and royal prowess, have traditionally been understood as statements of imperial propaganda that glorified the Assyrian king. In this book, Mehmet-Ali Ataç argues that the reliefs hold a deeper meaning that was addressed primarily to an internal audience composed of court scholars and master craftsmen. Ataç focuses on representations of animals, depictions of the king as priest and warrior, and figures of mythological beings that evoke an archaic cosmos. He demonstrates that these images mask a complex philosophical rhetoric developed by court scholars in collaboration with master craftsmen who were responsible for their design and execution. Ataç argues that the layers of meaning embedded in the Neo-Assyrian palace reliefs go deeper than politics, imperial propaganda, and straightforward historical record.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“There is much in this book that ancient and art historians will find of interest. The method of analyzing Assyrian art in the light of the wide body of textual sources and comparative mythology is most welcome.” —Bryn Mawr Classical Review

“All interested in the adaptation of primordial myth to illustrate a later art will find many thought-provoking observations in this book.” —American Journal of Archaeology

“The field of ancient Near Eastern studies has traditionally been characterized by the philological virtue of attending closely to the text. Ataç’s book demonstrates how this virtue is as relevant to the reading of visual material as it is to the study of verbal records.” —Journal of the American Oriental Society

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521517904
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 1/31/2010
  • Pages: 300
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Mehmet-Ali Ataç is Assistant Professor of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology at Bryn Mawr College. A scholar of the art of the ancient Near East, he has contributed to The Art Bulletin and The Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions.

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Table of Contents

Part I. Human and Animal Ontology in Assyrian Art: Introduction; 1. Ashurnasirpal II; 2. Tiglath-Pileser III; 3. Sargon II; 4. Sennacherib; 5. Ashurbanipal; Conclusion to Part I; Part II. Kingship and Priesthood in the Art of Ashurnasirpal II: Introduction; 6. The king, non-king; 7. 'La sale dite 'g''; 8. The mixta persona; 9. The king and the 'sacred tree'; 10. The encounter; Conclusion to Part II; Part III. The Semantics of Sages and Mischwesen in Assyrian Art and Thought: Introduction; 11. Before the flood; 12. Fertilization and purification; 13. King the man, the king-man; 14. 'Tiamat's brood'; 15. The ancient Mesopotamian flood traditions; 16. Lord of the netherworld; Conclusion to Part III; Epilogue.

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