Envisioning the Past Through Memories: How Memory Shaped Ancient Near Eastern Societies (Cultural Memory and History in Antiquity)

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Memory is a constructed system of references, in equilibrium, of feeling and rationality. Comparing ancient and contemporary mechanisms for the preservation of memories and the building of a common cultural, political and social memory, this volume aims to reveal the nature of memory, and explores the attitudes of ancient societies towards the creation of a memory to be handed down in words, pictures, and mental constructs. Since the multiple natures of memory involve every human activity, physical and intellectual, this volume promotes analyses and considerations about memory by focusing on various different cultural activities and productions of ancient Near Eastern societies, from artistic and visual documents to epigraphic evidence, and by considering archaeological data.

The chapters of this volume analyse the value and function of memory within the ancient Near Eastern and Egyptian societies, combining archaeological, textual and iconographical evidence following a progression from the analysis of the creation and preservation of both single and multiple memories, to the material culture (things and objects) that shed light on the impact of memory on individuals and community.

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About the Author:

Davide Nadali is Lecturer in Near Eastern Archaeology at the Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.

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When we look at the Middle East today, there has never been a more significant time for us to think critically and creatively about memory and its multiple, complex roles in the construction, manipulation and demolition of cultural identities. Every day our news media deliver stories of shocking transformations to the tangible and intangible manifestations of memory that constitute the rich archaeological, historical and cultural records of the region. But the past of the Middle East has never been static, never `set in stone', always contested and put to work in ways divisive, inclusive, exclusive and subversive. In this thoughtful and stimulating volume, the authors explore specific case studies illuminating the role of memory, and memory loss, in multiple historical trajectories from ancient Egypt and Iraq/Mesopotamia. All scholars and students of the past have much to learn from engaging with their innovative approaches and interpretations. * Roger Matthews, Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology, University of Reading, UK * This rich and stimulating collection of essays represents the latest clarion call to expand the purview of ancient Near Eastern art and archaeology. By exploring some of the ways in which societies encoded their memories of a collective past in texts, objects and places, the authors encourage a reconsideration of traditional readings of this evidence. These wide ranging explorations of the construction and transmission of cultural memory are a significant contribution to a better understanding of how the presence of the past within ancient societies helped to shape their futures and will surely inspire further investigation. * Paul Collins, Jaleh Hearn Curator of Ancient Near East, The Ashmolean Museum, UK * This rich collection of essays explores the diverse ways in which memory studies can offer new perspectives on the distant past. The contributors investigate archaeological, textual and visual evidence in their thought-provoking analyses of how memory - both remembering and forgetting - was an essential facet of ancient Near Eastern life. * Marian Feldman, Professor of History of Art and Near Eastern Studies, Johns Hopkins University, USA *

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