Special Issue "Animals in Ancient Material Cultures (vol. 2)"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (4 December 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 principle purpose of the first volume is to bring together a collection of invited papers associated with two separate conferences on animals in antiquity held at the University of Edinburgh (25–28 June 2014) and at the Allard Pierson Museum (15–16 October 2015). For this second volume, contributions on the same subject, Animals in Ancient Material Cultures, are welcome through open submission. To reiterate, while the focus is on the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, excursions to other periods or regions will be considered. Articles may be anywhere in size between 5000 to 25,000 words and should be submitted before 31 July 2020.

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

Article
Fit for the Job: Proportion and the Portrayal of Cattle in Egyptian Old and Middle Kingdom Elite Tomb Imagery
Arts 2021, 10(1), 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts10010013 - 07 Feb 2021
Viewed by 754
Abstract
Depictions of the natural world are an intrinsic feature of Egyptian visual culture, with the vast array of imagery documenting animals a testimony to the fundamental role they played. Despite the significance of animals in Egypt, an anthropocentric bias still exists in research [...] Read more.
Depictions of the natural world are an intrinsic feature of Egyptian visual culture, with the vast array of imagery documenting animals a testimony to the fundamental role they played. Despite the significance of animals in Egypt, an anthropocentric bias still exists in research on the methods used by practitioners during initial scene composition. To help bridge the divide, the author herein undertook an investigation to determine if proportional guides were in place when rendering animal figures in ancient Egyptian elite tomb imagery of the Old and Middle Kingdoms. A notable outcome of the proportional analysis was the identification of two distinct body-types for domestic cattle (Bos taurus taurus). The aim of the current paper is to further examine these proportional differences to explore if variations in physique (namely the distance between the chest floor and withers) were rendered by Egyptian practitioners to reflect the conditions in which they appeared by considering two overarching factors: (1) biological factors and (2) contextual factors. As such, the study will employ proportional analysis to challenge the prevailing perspective of a deregulated approach when illustrating fauna in elite tomb imagery, highlighting the significance of animals within ancient Egypt. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animals in Ancient Material Cultures (vol. 2))
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Article
On a Wing and a Prayer: Ibis Mummies in Material Culture at Abydos
Arts 2020, 9(4), 128; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts9040128 - 14 Dec 2020
Viewed by 1029
Abstract
The production of millions of artificially mummified animals by the ancient Egyptians is an extraordinary expression of religious piety. Millions of creatures of numerous species were preserved, wrapped in linen and deposited as votive offerings; a means by which the Egyptians communicated with [...] Read more.
The production of millions of artificially mummified animals by the ancient Egyptians is an extraordinary expression of religious piety. Millions of creatures of numerous species were preserved, wrapped in linen and deposited as votive offerings; a means by which the Egyptians communicated with their gods. The treatment of animals in this manner resulted in a wealth of material culture; the excavation and distribution of which formed a widely dispersed collection of artefacts in museum and private collections around the world. Due to ad hoc collection methods and the poorly recorded distribution of animal mummies, many artefacts have unknown or uncertain provenance. Researchers at the University of Manchester identified a group of eight mummies positively attributed to the 1913–1914 excavation season at Abydos, now held in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts. This paper presents the investigation of this discreet group of provenanced mummies through stylistic evaluation of the exterior, and the assessment of the contents and construction techniques employed using clinical radiography. Dating of one mummy places the artefact—and likely that of the whole assemblage—within the Late Period (c.664–332BC). Considering these data enables the mummies to be interpreted as the Egyptians intended; as votive artefacts produced within the sacred landscape at Abydos. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animals in Ancient Material Cultures (vol. 2))
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Article
Inverted Worlds, Nocturnal States and Flying Mammals: Bats and Their Symbolic Meaning in Moche Iconography
Arts 2020, 9(4), 107; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts9040107 - 21 Oct 2020
Viewed by 807
Abstract
Bats are depicted in various types of media in Central and South America. The Moche of northern Peru portrayed bats in many figurative ceramic vessels in association with themes of sacrifice, elite status and agricultural fertility. Osseous remains of bats in Moche ceremonial [...] Read more.
Bats are depicted in various types of media in Central and South America. The Moche of northern Peru portrayed bats in many figurative ceramic vessels in association with themes of sacrifice, elite status and agricultural fertility. Osseous remains of bats in Moche ceremonial and domestic contexts are rare yet their various representations in visual media highlight Moche fascination with their corporeal form, behaviour and symbolic meaning. By exploring bat imagery in Moche iconography, I argue that the bat formed an important part of Moche categorical schemes of the non-human world. The bat symbolized death and renewal not only for the human body but also for agriculture, society and the cosmos. I contrast folk taxonomies and symbolic classification to interpret the relational role of various species of chiropterans to argue that the nocturnal behaviour of the bat and its symbolic association with the moon and the darkness of the underworld was not a negative sphere to be feared or rejected. Instead, like the representative priestesses of the Late Moche period, bats formed part of a visual repertoire to depict the cycles of destruction and renewal that permitted the cosmological continuation of life within North Coast Moche society. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animals in Ancient Material Cultures (vol. 2))
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Article
Parts and Wholes: The Role of Animals in the Performance of Dolenjska Hallstatt Funerary Rites
Arts 2020, 9(2), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts9020053 - 26 Apr 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1379
Abstract
There is a rich iconographic tradition demonstrating the importance of animals in ritual in the Dolenjska Hallstatt archaeological culture of Early Iron Age Slovenia (800–300 bce). However, the role of animals in mortuary practice is not well represented iconographically, though faunal remains [...] Read more.
There is a rich iconographic tradition demonstrating the importance of animals in ritual in the Dolenjska Hallstatt archaeological culture of Early Iron Age Slovenia (800–300 bce). However, the role of animals in mortuary practice is not well represented iconographically, though faunal remains in graves indicate that their inclusion was an integral part of funerary performance. Here, animal bones from burials are compared to images of animal sacrifice, focusing on the ritual distinctions between the deposition of whole animal bodies versus animal parts. It is proposed that human–animal relationships were a key component of funerary animal sacrifice in these multispecies communities. The deposition of whole horses may have been due to a personal relationship with the deceased human. In turn, the sacrifice of an animal and division of its parts may have been essential for the management of group ties with the loss of a community member. Particular elements such as teeth, horns, and claws may have served as amulets—perhaps indicating that these were personal items that had to be placed in the grave with the deceased or that the deceased needed continued protection or other symbolic aid. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animals in Ancient Material Cultures (vol. 2))
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Article
Lovely Ugly Bes! Animalistic Aspects in Ancient Egyptian Popular Religion
Arts 2020, 9(2), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts9020051 - 17 Apr 2020
Viewed by 1868
Abstract
The popular yet demonic guardian of ancient Egypt, Bes, combines dwarfish and leonine features, and embodies opposing traits such as a fierce and gentle demeanor, a hideous and comical appearance, serious and humorous roles, an animalistic and numinous nature. Drawing connections with similarly [...] Read more.
The popular yet demonic guardian of ancient Egypt, Bes, combines dwarfish and leonine features, and embodies opposing traits such as a fierce and gentle demeanor, a hideous and comical appearance, serious and humorous roles, an animalistic and numinous nature. Drawing connections with similarly stunted figures, great and small cats, sacred cows, baboons, demonic monsters, universal gods and infant deities, this article will focus on the animalistic associations of the Bes figure to illustrate that this leonine dwarf encompassed a wider religious significance than apotropaic and regenerative functions alone. Bes was thought to come from afar but was always close; the leonine dwarf guarded the sun god Ra along the diurnal solar circuit; the figure protected pregnant women and newborn children; it was a dancer and musician; the figure belonged to the company of magical monsters of hybrid appearance as averter of evil and sword-wielding fighter. Exploring the human and animal, demonic and numinous aspects of this leonine dwarf will not only further our understanding of its nature and function, but also its significance and popularity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animals in Ancient Material Cultures (vol. 2))
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