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Elite Religious Practice in Third Millennium BC Mesopotamia

Förderungszeitraum: Januar 2014 - August 2016
Central to the material remains of the elite religious practices of third millennium BCE Mesopotamia are sacred gifts, which describe the large number of objects – such as vessels, statues, mace heads, relief-carved plaques, seals, and animal figures – dedicated to the gods. Deposited exclusively in temples, the earthly abodes of the divine, these sacred gifts became part of the temple inventory and ultimately were joined in perpetuity with its physical structure through various methods of deposition. The sacred gifts of the Mesopotamian temple comprise an important corpus of visual culture, which traditionally falls within the realm of a Mesopotamian art history. I aim to integrate an art historical approach to the visual culture of sacred gifting with current anthropological approaches to religion, which embrace the idea that beliefs assume material forms, and with material culture studies, which focus on the social relations between people and objects and therefore address the object as it is implicated in the construction of social identities. My research also examines the material remains of elite religious practices in third millennium BCE Mesopotamia in application to broader socio-economic and historical issues. Ultimately, the study of religious practices affords an opportunity to establish new paradigms for the construction of the Mesopotamian elite during the third millennium BCE.