Special Issue "Animals in Ancient Material Cultures (vol. 1)"

A special issue of Arts (ISSN 2076-0752). This special issue belongs to the section "Visual Arts".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Branko F. van Oppen de Ruiter
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Adjunct Lecturer, Department of Ancient History, University of Groningen, 9700 AS Groningen, The Netherlands
2. Former Visiting Research Scholar and Curator, Allard Pierson Museum, University of Amsterdam, 1012 GC Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Interests: Ptolemaic history; Hellenistic queenship; iconography; ideology; syncretistic religion; animals in antiquity; museum archaeology
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Chiara Cavallo
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Senior Lecturer, Amsterdam Centre for Ancient Studies and Archaeology, University of Amsterdam, 1012 WX Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Interests: zooarchaeology; human–animal relations; animal remains; archaeology; Romanization; subsistence strategies; ecology
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Ever since the Neolithic domestication, animals have been part of everyday human life, imagination, and religion. In antiquity, many human pursuits, from plowing the field to fighting on the battlefield, from consumption of food to sacrificing to the gods, were shaped by, and relied upon, a symbiotic or interdependent relationship with animals. Animals were hunted or tamed, kept for entertainment or even worshipped. Material culture provides important evidence as representations and illustrations, expressions and mediations of ancient ideas and attitudes about, as well as experiences and interactions with the animal world which surrounded them. Iconographic representations may, for instance, reflect social status as much as religious practices. Such imagery can offer visual clues for the dissemination of animal husbandry as well as for beliefs in mythic creatures.

The theme of this Special Issue, "Animals in Ancient Material Cultures", broadly includes the Mediterranean world and the Near East, from ca. 10,000 ʙᴄᴇ to 500 ᴄᴇ (although exceptions in period or region may be considered). Approaching this subject from a broad chronological and geographical perspective allows the contributors to focus on a specific region, period, animal, and/or creature. Papers may draw on (zoo-)archaeological, physical, visual, and/or cultural material to examine the dispersal and exchange, appropriation, and acculturation of practices and beliefs. This Special Issue aims to bring together specialists from different fields of expertise, including but not limited to art history, ancient history, classics, classical archaeology, and zooarchaeology. Proposed subjects comprise topics such as pastoralism, human–animal relations, iconography, and cultic practices.

The principal purpose of this first volume is to bring together a collection of papers associated with two separate conferences on animals in antiquity, namely, "The Living World of Animals in Antiquity", a panel organized by Sian Lewis and Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones at the Eighth Celtic Conference in Classics, on 25–28 June 2014, at the University of Edinburgh, and "Animals in Ancient Material Cultures", organized by the undersigned at the Allard Pierson Museum, on 15–16 October 2015. Contributions are invited for a second volume on the same subject.

Dr. Branko F. van Oppen de Ruiter
Dr. Chiara Cavallo
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Arts is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • animals
  • antiquity
  • material culture
  • animal–human relations
  • iconography
  • art history
  • ancient history
  • classics
  • zooarchaeology
  • archaeology

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
The Meaning of the Snake in the Ancient Greek World
Arts 2021, 10(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts10010002 - 28 Dec 2020
Viewed by 1177
Abstract
Despite playing no meaningful practical role in the lives of the ancient Greeks, snakes are ubiquitous in their material culture and literary accounts, in particular in narratives which emphasise their role of guardian animals. This paper will mainly utilise vase paintings as a [...] Read more.
Despite playing no meaningful practical role in the lives of the ancient Greeks, snakes are ubiquitous in their material culture and literary accounts, in particular in narratives which emphasise their role of guardian animals. This paper will mainly utilise vase paintings as a source of information, with literary references for further elucidation, to explain why the snake had such a prominent role and thus clarify its meaning within the cultural context of Archaic and Classical Greece, with a particular focus on Athens. Previous scholarship has tended to focus on dualistic opposites, such as life/death, nature/culture, and creation/destruction. This paper argues instead that ancient Greeks perceived the existence of a special primordial force living within, emanating from, or symbolised by the snake; a force which is not more—and not less—than pure life, with all its paradoxes and complexities. Thus, the snake reveals itself as an excellent medium for accessing Greek ideas about the divine, anthropomorphism, and ancestry, the relationship between humans, nature and the supernatural, and the negotiation of the inevitable dichotomy of old and new. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animals in Ancient Material Cultures (vol. 1))
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Open AccessArticle
Animals from Motya: Depictions and Archaeological Evidence in the Phoenician Town in Sicily
Arts 2020, 9(3), 96; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts9030096 - 17 Sep 2020
Viewed by 888
Abstract
This paper focusses on the animal presence in the archaeological records from the Phoenician island town of Motya (Sicily), which grew to prosperity from its settlement in the 8th century until its destruction in 397 bce. Offering a preliminary review of this [...] Read more.
This paper focusses on the animal presence in the archaeological records from the Phoenician island town of Motya (Sicily), which grew to prosperity from its settlement in the 8th century until its destruction in 397 bce. Offering a preliminary review of this material, the paper discusses fantastic beasts, animals of the land, sea and air, creatures from Egyptian tradition and the faunal remains. As such, the overview will be more descriptive than analytic. While osteological evidence confirms the presence of domestic animals, such as poultry, pigs and pets, depictions on all sort of artifacts represent sphinxes and griffins, centaurs and sea-monsters, dolphins and every kind of fish, lions, bulls, horses, deer, pigs and dogs, and many kinds of birds from quails to eagles. Egyptian amulets express the great attraction felt towards the mysterious Nile valley. The great variety of animals attested in the iconography, and the various traditions in which they were depicted, are testament to the diversity of the town’s human population as well as their interactions with the wider Mediterranean world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animals in Ancient Material Cultures (vol. 1))
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Open AccessArticle
Greek Geometric Animal Figurines and the Origins of the Ancient Olympic Games
Arts 2020, 9(1), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts9010020 - 11 Feb 2020
Viewed by 1028
Abstract
According to the prevailing scholarly opinion, Geometric bronze animal figurines found at Olympia represent cattle and horses which were put under the protection of the divinity in this form. This view is challenged here for various reasons including literary testimony and comparisons with [...] Read more.
According to the prevailing scholarly opinion, Geometric bronze animal figurines found at Olympia represent cattle and horses which were put under the protection of the divinity in this form. This view is challenged here for various reasons including literary testimony and comparisons with contemporary shrines containing similar dedications (especially Kato Syme on Crete). This paper argues that the bovines depicted were feral, and the figurines were offered by foreign aristocrats visiting the sanctuary especially for the sake of hunting these animals. Similarly, the horse figurines are interpreted as depicting feral equines, which were presumably captured and taken away by the visitors. After examining the cultic regulations related to the Olympic Games (timing, crowns, exclusion of married women and the penteteric periodicity), it is suggested that excessive hunting led to the extinction of some game animals and thus to a radical shift in the cult practice and ultimately resulted in the introduction of athletic events, i.e., in the Olympic Games. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animals in Ancient Material Cultures (vol. 1))
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Open AccessArticle
Seeing the Dog: Naturalistic Canine Representations from Greek Art
Arts 2020, 9(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts9010014 - 30 Jan 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1564
Abstract
This study attempts to demonstrate that ancient Greek authors and vase painters (mostly of the late sixth and early fifth centuries) were well attuned to the many bodily gestures and positions exhibited by dogs in real life and utilized this knowledge in producing [...] Read more.
This study attempts to demonstrate that ancient Greek authors and vase painters (mostly of the late sixth and early fifth centuries) were well attuned to the many bodily gestures and positions exhibited by dogs in real life and utilized this knowledge in producing their works. Once this is clear, it becomes evident that the Greek public at large was equally aware of such canine bodily gestures and positions. This extends the seminal work on gestures of Boegehold and Lateiner to the animal world and seeks also to serve as a call for further study of similar animals throughout ancient Greek times. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animals in Ancient Material Cultures (vol. 1))
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Open AccessArticle
Monsters of Military Might: Elephants in Hellenistic History and Art
Arts 2019, 8(4), 160; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8040160 - 04 Dec 2019
Viewed by 1894
Abstract
Elephants were first deployed in warfare by Indian and Persian armies. The Greco-Macedonian troops first encountered these fearsome creatures in battle during the campaign of Alexander the Great. Subsequently, the Successors and later Hellenistic rulers similarly used elephants in battle. From this time, [...] Read more.
Elephants were first deployed in warfare by Indian and Persian armies. The Greco-Macedonian troops first encountered these fearsome creatures in battle during the campaign of Alexander the Great. Subsequently, the Successors and later Hellenistic rulers similarly used elephants in battle. From this time, the animal began to appear in Greco-Roman art. Tracing the appearance of the elephant in Hellenistic history and art, I suggest that the elephant not only continued to be associated with its Asian and African origins and came to symbolize military triumph over exotic foes, it retained religious and mythic proportions as a fearsome, fabulous monster connected with the martichora and unicorn, griffon and sphinx, dragon and hippocampus. In particular, I re-examined the posthumous portrait of Alexander the Great in which he wears an elephant scalp as a headdress, similar to Heracles’ lion scalp. This deified portraiture not only depicts Alexander as descendant of Heracles and Dionysus, both sons of Zeus, but also—through connections with Ammon and Indra—as the legitimate ruler of the three continents of the known world, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animals in Ancient Material Cultures (vol. 1))
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