Selves Engraved on Stone: Seals and Identity in the Ancient Near East, ca. 1415–1050 BCE


Typically carved in stone, the cylinder seal is perhaps the most distinctive art form to emerge in ancient Mesopotamia. It spread across the Near East from ca. 3300 BCE onwards, and remained in use for millennia. What was the role of this intricate object in the making of a person's social identity? As the first comprehensive study dedicated to this question, Selves Engraved on Stone explores the ways in which different but often intersecting aspects of identity, such as religion, gender, community and profession, were constructed through the material, visual, and textual characteristics of seals from Mesopotamia and Syria.

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Serdar Yalçın, Ph.D. (2014), Columbia University, is Assistant Professor of Ancient and Medieval Art History at Macalester College. He published various articles on seals and identity, and artistic interconnections in the ancient Mediterranean in peer-review journals and edited volumes.
Author’s Note
List of Figures

1 Introduction
 1 Historical Background: The Ancient Near East in the Late Bronze Age

2 Identity as a Theoretical Framework in the Study of Ancient Art
 1 Is Identity a Valid Tool for Studying Ancient Art?
 2 Gender, Community, and Others: Prominent Identities in the Ancient Near East
 3 Constructing Ancient Identities through Material and Visual Culture

3 People Praying on Stone: Identity in Kassite Babylonian Seals, ca. 1415–1155 BCE
 1 Historical Introduction
 2 Babylonian Glyptic during the Kassite Period
 3 Seals and Religious Identity in Kassite Babylonia
 4 Family and Community Relations in Kassite Babylonian Seals
 5 Gender and Seals in Kassite Babylonia
 6 Profession and Institutional Affiliations in Kassite Babylonian Seals
 7 Synopsis

4 Men of the State: Seals as Markers of Distinction in Assyria, ca. 1353–1050 BCE
 1 Historical Introduction
 2 Middle Assyrian Glyptic Tradition from the 14th to the 11th Centuries BCE
 3 Religious Identity in Middle Assyrian Seals
 4 Family and Community Relations in Middle Assyrian Seals
 5 Gender and Representation in Middle Assyrian Seals
 6 Professional and Institutional Affiliations in Middle Assyrian Seals
 7 Synopsis

5 Under the Shadow of the Great Kings: Seals and Identity in Hittite Syria, ca. 1340–1180 BCE
 1 Historical Introduction
 2 Scholarship on the Glyptics of Late Bronze Age Syria
 3 Religious Identity in the Seals from Hittite Syria
 4 Family and Community Relations in the Seals from Hittite Syria
 5 Gender and Representation in the Seals from Hittite Syria
 6 Professional and Institutional Affiliations in the Seals from Hittite Syria
 7 Synopsis

6 Conclusion

Appendix 1: List of Seals and Seal Impressions Discussed in the Text
This book would be of interest for scholars specialized in Near Eastern art and archaeology, glyptic experts, university libraries and academics investigating the issue of identity in pre-modern societies.
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