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Communities of StylePortable Luxury Arts, Identity, and Collective Memory in the Iron Age Levant$
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Marian H. Feldman

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226105611

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226164427.001.0001

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Speaking Bowls and the Inscription of Identity and Memory

Speaking Bowls and the Inscription of Identity and Memory

(p.111) Chapter 4 Speaking Bowls and the Inscription of Identity and Memory
Communities of Style

Marian H. Feldman

University of Chicago Press

The chapter examines a small subgroup of decorated metal bowls, typically referred to as “Phoenician,” that bear inscriptions on them, as an avenue into the corpus as a whole, and delves into the material association of ornamentation and inscription on vessels designed for pouring and/or drinking liquids in a funerary context. The presence of an inscription that names a person activates memories in a self-conscious manner. The bowls elicit, even demand, an ongoing remembrance on behalf of the named individual. The representational decoration drew user-viewers into its figured world, enacting and reenacting social, familial, and power relations through time. That these vessels appear in burial contexts from Iran to Italy points to shared cultural practices of communal feasting. Yet, the inscribing of personal names and the declaration of ownership in numerous languages and scripts found on metal bowls around the Near East and Mediterranean from the transitional period at the end of the Late Bronze Age into the Iron Age suggest a new role for funerary practices, in which emerging communal identities were increasingly being expressed through ethno-linguistic affiliation and a metaphor of ancestral kinship.

Keywords:   Phoenician bowls, funerary practices, burials, inscriptions, languages, scripts, feasting, communal identities, memory

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