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IDSEMUG 1929 - Kings and Kingship in Ancient West Asia

Sargon. Hammurabi. Nebuchadnezzar. Darius. While these names might sound only vaguely familiar to modern ears, the men behind them were influential ancient rulers. What do we know about them, and how do we know it? How did these men define their kingship and communicate their power? In this class, we address these questions, concentrating in particular on the role of visual material in the construction and maintenance of the image of kingship in ancient western Asia, an area commonly called the Near East (an artificial, modern category that encompasses many millennia of diverse civilizations in and around the region of the modern Middle East). Working primarily with archaeological material and with pieces of art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, we think about how ancient kings and their courts used images to assert the king’s right and worthiness to rule, to attest to his character, and to describe the extent of his power. We consider, too, the legacies of individual kings and how successors—ancient and modern—have responded to them. And we look, too, at the women in and around positions of power. Monuments from the following cultures will be our focus: Early Dynastic, Akkadian, Neo-Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian, Achaemenid Persian. Add Consent: Department Consent Required.
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