Monumental Art and Political Change in Ancient Syria

Alessandra Gilibert

Università Ca' Foscari Venezia

In the 12th century BCE, when the dissolution of the Hittite Empire released the Eastern Mediterranean communities into times of profound change, the polities of ancient Syria began experimenting with monumental art on public display. Exploring new communicative practices, local rulers decorated city gates and ceremonial squares with colossal statues and cycles of bas-reliefs with an increasingly manifest political content. In doing so, they initiated a unique tradition of public art that lasted five centuries and exerted a significant influence on neighboring regions. This talk will focus on the city of Carchemish between 1200 and 700 BCE and explore how monumental art was used to reinforce political practices, negotiate power struggles, express changing civic identities, and challenge the status quo.

Alessandra Gilibert is Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow at Ca’ Foscari University, where she leads the research project “Civic community and public space in the ancient Near East.” She studied Ancient Near Eastern Studies in Freiburg, Tuebingen, and Berlin, where she received her PhD in 2008. Since then, she has worked as a research fellow and adjunct professor at the Universities of Berlin, Brno, and Venice. She specializes in the connections between politics, urban design and visual culture, with a specific focus on monumental art and architecture in Anatolia and the Levant. She is the author of Syro-Hittite Monumental Art and the Archaeology of Performance (2011) and, since 2012, she has directed the Dragon Stones Archaeological Project on Mt. Aragats, Armenia.

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