Joanna Smith, Princeton University: “An Idea in a Thing? Seal Recarving and Histories of Art in the Ancient Near East”
Thu, March 24, 2011 • 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM • ART 1.120
Thing theory's emphasis on material culture highlights questions and directions that are useful for studies of ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean art. Of particular interest is the concept of an "idea in a thing" and its significance for histories of art that rely almost exclusively on archaeological information. During the Bronze Age there are few artists who are known by name. Who made what and why must usually be inferred, especially from information about those who could commission works of art. But what do the objects created suggest about who made them and why? Were there ideas within things? This question is explored with respect to seal carving in Mesopotamia, Syria, and Cyprus.