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02/05/2019 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Assyria Identities

The Role of Elite Individuals in the Art of Assyria

David Kertai

Kings play an outsized role in the historical recollection of the Assyrian Empire. The Assyrian rulers themselves deliberately fostered this notion of royal predominance and omnipresence through royal images situated throughout the empire. The Mesopotamian conceptualization of images, however, diverged from our own in several respects: it neither demanded mimesis nor privileged naturalism. Assyrian royal images were not designed to showcase individual physiognomic features, but to communicate the status of the king as divinely perfected (and nearly indistinguishable) examples of Assyrian kingship. Empires, however, are not ruled by their kings alone but are better understood as collaborative enterprises. This raises the question of how other Assyrian elites, such as eunuchs and queens, were able to represent themselves. This lecture will explore the ways in which these groups and individuals were able to negotiate, establish, and communicate their own roles and status within the Assyrian imperial enterprise.
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