Picture Power



Cultural Continuity in Changing Worlds – The representation of Government in the Near East from the late fourth millennium bce to the early modern period (ca. 3200 BCE – 1600 CE)  

 Since the dawn of urban civilization in the Near East, rulers and their retinues have propagated ideological messages regarding their legitimacy, status, obligations, and rights. The visual expressions of royal ideology are the subject of our research. We aim to explore the continuity and survival of visual aspects of Near Eastern royal presentations within the ever-changing religious, cultural, Ideological, and political frameworks of the region. Despite the use of an array of languages rooted in different, and at times conflicting, religions, fluctuating demographic components, and unending transformations of governing ideologies and political agendas, ancient imagery resurfaces again and again in the Middle East. Indeed, remote concepts and visual symbolism of the kingly past never totally vanished from this area, but were treasured throughout the six millennia of Near Eastern civilization. The issue of cultural continuity lies at the core of our research; we will compare royal imagery of different periods, explore its social, political, and religious meaning, and examine the dynamics of its survival throughout Near Eastern history.  

Through the analysis of royal visual representations and pictorial metaphors, and the comparison of pictures with texts, the unique role of pictorial expression and its divergence from textual presentation will be studied; the two models of presentation do not necessarily accord with or complement one another. This tension between words and pictures reveals hidden, often ambivalent and unsolved cultural tropes in a given period or civilization.  

Group Members:  

Dr. Arlette David: msarlett@mscc.huji.ac.il  

Prof. Rachel Milstein: milstein@huji.ac.il  

Dr. Galit Noga-Banai: gnbanai@huji.ac.il  

Prof. Tallay Ornan: Tallay@mscc.huji.ac.il  

Raanan Eichler: raanan.eichler@mail.huji.ac.il  

Dana Gilboa Brostowsky: danbros@gmail.com  

Anna Gutgarts-Weinberger: a_gutgarts@yahoo.com  

Liat Naeh: liat.naeh@mail.huji.ac.il  



-In January 2015 the group hosted an international workshop:  

‘Picturing Royal Charisma in the Near East (3rd millennium BC to 1700 AD)’.  

-In May 2013 the group organized a tour to Turkey.