The Eleventh Annual Kolb Senior Scholars Colloquium with the theme "Political Corrections: Social Control through Word and Image in Antiquity" will take place on October 28, 2016 from 2 to 5 pm in the Wiedner Lecture Hall at the Penn Museum.
2:00 Professor C. Brian Rose, Kolb Society of Fellows Faculty Coordinator
Welcome and Introduction
2:15 Dr. Jane A. Hill, Fellow
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Rowan University
Symbols before the Crown: Reading Early Egypt’s Iconography of Power
This study draws on iconography found in rock art, paintings, carvings, and glyptic from Egypt and neighboring regions to trace the development of symbols associated with authority figures during the gradual coalescence of the Egyptian dynastic state. Available evidence suggests that in addition to its own rich and varied symbolic system Egyptians adopted and adapted symbols found on imported Mesopotamian material in the early Naqada II. Some of these symbols were included in semiotic categories denoting rulership, social institutions, and administrative roles in the formative Egyptian state of the Naqada III period. Not only were these symbols necessary in building networks of influence in the polities of Upper Egypt, a few later became icons denoting the power and authority of kingship for the duration of the ancient Egyptian state. The author suggests that coalescence of economic, coercive and religious power embodied in ancient Egyptian kingship has its beginnings in this symbolic system.
2:45 Dr. Josh Jeffers, Fellow
Research Specialist, Royal Inscriptions of the Neo-Assyrian Period Project, Penn Museum
The Assyrian Propaganda Machine: Shaping the Past Through Text and Image
The Neo-Assyrian empire of the first millennium BCE based in upper Mesopotamia was established through the brutal conquest of much of the Near Eastern world. At its height, the empire extended from Elam in the east to Egypt in the west. It maintained its hold over this expansive territory and ensured the loyalty of its subjects by means of fear and various forms of population control, such as mass deportation. As a part of its ruling ideological program, the Assyrian king was envisioned as a mighty warrior, savvy in military strategy and dauntless in combat. Scribes recorded the king’s deeds in writing on clay prisms and tablets, and artisans memorialized his victories through images carved on stone wall slabs that lined the palaces of the capitals. However, from the modern historian’s perspective, the portrayal of the invulnerability of the Assyrian empire and its king could lead to a skewing of historical events and “reality” in these sources that was a result of their efforts to preserve just such a grandiose image of the kingdom.
3:30 Dr. Matt Waters, Fellow
Professor of Classics and Ancient History, Department of Foreign Languages, University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire
By The Will of Ahuramazda: The Conjunction between Royal and Divine in Achaemenid Persia
The close link between the king and the divine has deep roots in Near Eastern royal ideology, so it was hardly surprising to find the phenomenon manifest during the Achaemenid period (c. 550–330 BCE). Exactly how close was it? However one chooses to answer that question, the king is to be considered a fulcrum: the glorification of the King balances his own roles within the Achaemenid ideological scheme, as manifest in both textual and iconographic evidence. The Achaemenids were masters of adoption and adaptation of previous structures in the fashioning a compelling royal ideology, one that incorporated several Persian and Iranian elements. The varied evidence is at times ambiguous, and this is not necessarily an accident. Some recent scholarship has suggested elevating the Achaemenid king to divine status, though there are no text markers – e.g., the presence of the DINGIR determinative – to indicate royal divinity. This presentation considers Achaemenid royal ideology in its function of the glorification of the king and the intersection with the divine. It will be explored via written and pictorial sources, as well as its manifestations in other traditions that are traceable to Achaemenid originals.
4:00: Dr. Simon Martin, Guest Speaker
Associate Curator and Keeper of Collections, American Section, Penn Museum
Strategies in Stone: Rhetoric and Realpolitik in Classic Maya Politics
The nineteenth century discovery of ancient Maya ruins opened a new chapter in the history of Pre-Columbian America. The wealth of monumental carvings they contained, including copious amounts of hieroglyphic text, presented a unique opportunity to understand an ancient New World civilization on its own terms and in its own words. How the numerous cities were organized politically was a topic of debate right up until the decipherment of the Maya script, which began in earnest only in the 1980s. With the hieroglyphs now spilling their secrets, we can appreciate the intricate interactions and overarching systems at work during the Classic Period (300–900 CE)—peering through the vainglorious displays of kings to perceive some of the political realities beneath.
4:45: Final Questions and Comments