In the midst of great kings: the monumentalization of text in the Iron Age Levant
Keywords:monumental text, monumentality, monumentalization, mixed media, Northwest Semitic, Zincirli
The Bar-Rakib Palace Inscriptions from Zincirli have received relatively little attention from philologists and archaeologists alike because of their predictable and derivative content. However, these monuments provide an unparalleled insight into the monumentalization of text in the Iron Age Levant. As might be expected, Bar-Rakib's Aramaic inscriptions and reliefs repeat themes and tropes from other monuments. They also were strategically deployed at the site so as to interact with nearby monuments left by earlier rulers. What has received less attention is the fact that Bar-Rakib's monuments also shared many artistic tropes with small finds from Zincirli, including letters, incantation plaques, seals, and amulets. These correspondences suggest that monumental texts functioned by appropriating aspects of personal artifacts to be used on a communal scale. By projecting not only prestige but also intimacy, Bar-Rakib's inscriptions invited their audience to interact with them in imaginative ways. As the audience related to the monumental texts through acts of reading, viewing, and ritual, they would in turn reconfigure their own relationships to other communicative media, places, each other, and the polity as a whole. It was this ability to relate to communities and thus reshape them that made a text monumental in the Iron Age Levant. This was accomplished through the strategic juxtaposition of text with visual and performative media in particular spatial contexts.
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