AMME Seminar 25.11.2021: Body Modification in the Ancient World

It is our pleasure to announce that the next Ancient and Medieval Middle East (AMME) seminar will be our first HYBRID event, held on Thursday 25 November at 16:15-18:00 EET!

The session will consist of two papers and a shared discussion on the theme of ‘body modification in the ancient world’. The speakers are:

Dr. Julia Giessler

Babylonian Slave Marks and Other Forms of Body Modification

The hands of Babylonian slaves in the first millennium BCE were frequently inscribed with names of their owners, while temple servants could be marked with the star of Ištar or other divine symbols. By indicating private or institutional ownership, the forms and functions of these body marks equalled the brand marks of animals in these times. In social life, however, names and symbols on human hands also highlighted the dependent status of the marked individuals in contrast to un-marked free citizens.

What did it mean for slaves and temple servants to be marked? Was marking just an indifferent action taken in the course of slave sales and dedications, or a punitive method to prevent flights and punish disobedience? This paper approaches the social meaning of Babylonian slave marks by tracking comparable body modifications throughout the ages of cuneiform transmission.

Dir. Dr. Ria Berg

Jewellery of the Roman Sub-Elite - Sign, Sound and Senses

This paper examines the ways in which Roman jewellery of the imperial age - in particular as exemplified in the contexts of Pompeii, destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE eruption - could signal different sub-elite identities. My basic hypothesis is that non-elite jewellery was not only a poorer version of the jewellery worn by the ruling classes, imitating it in cheaper materials, but it also had a proper code of values and aspirations, different from the elite ideals, expressing different scales of social statuses. Such aspects could include, besides the material of the jewellery the more visible and voluminous placing on the body, effects of movement and sound emitted by the jewellery. The specific questions asked will be: How did the material, volume, placing on the body surface, and factors like movement and sound fine-tune the status value of Roman jewellery? How can such data, relative to status and identity, be connected with the evidence about the place of discovery and its social context? 

Please join us in the Faculty hall (Fabianinkatu 24, 5th floor) or online (Zoom link: / Meeting ID: 678 8979 2118) on Thursday 25 November 2021, 16:15-18:00 EET (UTC +02:00).

Hope to see you all there – online or in person!