My dissertation focuses on a 125 of the 2043 clay sealings, which have been uncovered from a large administrative building at the site of Kedesh in northern Israel and which represent the remains of a substantial archive. This archive went out of use c. 145 BCE, after the Seleucids who controlled the site abandoned it. The 125 sealings in my corpus display images of symbols and objects. Each of these images falls into one of seventeen motif categories that include anchors, bucrania, a caduceus, columns, composite animals and heads, cornucopias, ears, floral motifs, a ligature, lyres, masks, pilei of the Dioscuri, shields, stars, thunderbolts, vessels and unidentifiable symbols. These symbols offer a unique opportunity to examine both the interconnection of the Hellenistic world as well as some of its mindset in several different ways. First, the appearance of a motif at Kedesh represents one point in the overall use-constellation of that motif in which every point is defined by geographic locus, date and medium. By plotting these use-constellations for each motif and comparing them, we are able to see how the Kedesh symbol sealings as a corpus relate to the ancient world as a whole by showing if there are closer links to certain regions/time periods or others. The results of this examination show that the Kedesh symbol motifs were most popular in and around the Aegean and Italy in the Hellenistic period. The Levant, for its, part is also well represented and even appears to have been a prime innovator of some motifs, like the cornucopia. There are also links to North Africa in the presence for example of certain types of mask, but that these links tend to be stronger earlier than the Hellenistic period. Second, an examination of the motifs themselves illustrates an interest on the part of the Kedesh archive users in visual allegory as an almost mystical expression and an attempt to use this phenomenon to purposefully construct images with powerful apotropaic or amuletic character in order to protect the user of a seal.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2010. Major: Ancient and Medieval Art and Archaeology. Advisor: Professor Andrea Berlin. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 448 pages, appendix p. 445-448. Ill. maps (some col.)
Symbols and objects on the sealings from Kedesh..
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