The Meaning of Color in Ancient Mesopotamia


In The Meaning of Color in Ancient Mesopotamia, Shiyanthi Thavapalan offers the first in-depth study of the words and expressions for colors in the Akkadian language (c. 2500-500 BCE). By combining philological analysis with the technical investigation of materials, she debunks the misconception that people in Mesopotamia had a limited sense of color and positions the development of Akkadian color language as a corollary of the history of materials and techniques in the ancient Near East.

"...The Meaning of Color in Ancient Mesopotamia is a ground-breaking, methodologically innovative, and insightful work. It makes an important contribution to the fields of color studies, historical semantics, and to the history of technologies, enriching our current understanding of Mesopotamian worldviews, languages and material culture. The book will be a valuable resource not only to Assyriologists, but, due to its comparative perspective, also to historians, linguists, and readers interested in the interrelations between language, thought, and culture."
-Ulrike Steinert, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, Mainz, Bryn Mawr Classical Review (2020)

"The study particularly nuances the way biblical scholars and students should begin to interpret ancient colour categories which ultimately enriches our understanding of different ancient cultures; this, in turn, deserves wide readership."
-Ellena Lyell, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 44.5 (2020)

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Shiyanthi Thavapalan, Ph.D. (2017), Yale University, is Visiting Assistant Professor of Archaeology and Assyriology (2019-2020) at Brown University. She has published several articles on color and the history of Mesopotamian crafts and technologies.
All interested in Assyriology and Near Eastern archaeology as well as Classicists, cultural historians, museum specialists and linguistic anthropologists.
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