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Diver Walter E. Deaves
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Diver (54.122) — Walter E. Deaves

Manipulating the Imaginary: A Trip to the Wonderland of Ancient Miniature Sculpture from Mesopotamia

Wednesday, April 30, 2008 |6:30 PM – 7:30 PM

  • For Adults

6:30-7:30 PM, DIA Lecture Hall
Members Only Reception to Follow in Kresge Court

Dr. Gregory Areshian
Research Associate and Adjunct Professor at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA

Thousands of figurines, seals, jewelry and other miniature works of art excavated in Mesopotamia were separated from their archaeological contexts. This has meant that little is known about their significance in the lives of ancient Mesopotamians. In the last forty years, major improvements in archaeological excavations and in field recording have created new opportunities for analysis, so that the Mesopotamians’ religious system can be reconstructed, including popular beliefs, the cults of city-states, and general concepts, myths, and rituals. Dr. Areshian will offer examples from a collection of figurines excavated at Terqa on the Euphrates, and cultic artifacts found in the Temple of Ninkarrak (c. 1750-1500 BCE). He will show that a well-known myth was re-enacted in that shrine, that human actors used figurines as co-actors in the ritual performance, and that the figurines representing deities were manipulated in imaginary areas of sacred space to achieve those results (perhaps healing) desired by the human actors.    

A note on the speaker:
After completing his doctorate in the USSR, Dr. Areshian served as Professor of Archaeology at the University of Yerevan (Armenia), the First Vice-President of the Department of Antiquities of the Republic of Armenia, and as the Vice-Director of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of Armenia. In 1991-92, he served as the Deputy Prime Minister to the first government of the independent Republic of Armenia. Areshian has excavated several archaeological sites in Armenia and Syria and has participated in other projects in Georgia, Egypt, and Turkmenistan. He is the author of more than 130 publications on Caucasian and Ancient Near Eastern archaeology and history, and on archaeological theory. Currently he is a Research Associate and Adjunct Professor at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA. In addition to participating in the Mozan-Urkesh Project in Syria, he is co-directing the Dvin Archaeological Project in Armenia.