Karen Sonik

Visiting Research Scholar 2010-2011

Karen Sonik holds a BA and MA in the History and Archaeology of Greece, Rome, and the Near East from the University of British Columbia and a PhD in the Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World from the University of Pennsylvania (2010). Her primary research interests lie in ancient Mesopotamia and its connections both east and west, as evidenced in surviving artistic and literary themes and motifs. Applying an interdisciplinary approach to her research and incorporating archaeological, art historical, and literary evidence, her PhD focused on the social, political, and religious functions of Zwischenwesen in Mesopotamia, specifically those categorized as monsters or daimons, with an emphasis on creating a standard terminology and basic taxonomy, on analyzing those figures that are remarkable even in the company of other boundary-crossers and boundary-breakers, and on considering the construction and function of the monstrous feminine in artistic and literary contexts. Her research project at ISAW is interregional in scope and examines the transmission of monstrous images and motifs, read as encompassing specific aspects of the originating culture's belief system, among the first millennium BCE civilizations of the Eastern Mediterranean and the ancient Near East and the process whereby these were recontextualized or adapted for incorporation into their new cultural contexts.