W1: Levantine Ivories of the Iron Age: Style, Production, and Consumption

Organizer: Claudia E. Suter (Bern University)

The Levantine production of luxurious objects made of ivory reached a peak in the early Iron Age: one can speak of a veritable Ivory Age. The vast majority of this production was carried off by Assyrian emperors in the course of their successive incorporation of the Levantine states into their realm. Smaller assemblages and scattered finds stretch over an area from Iran in the west to Spain in the east. The circumstance that these ivory carvings have generally not been found where they were made has had an impact on scholarship: for a century, research has focused on their stylistic classification with the aim of locating and dating their place of origin. However, in spite of all scholarly effort no generally accepted classification has been attained.

This workshop provides a platform for a discussion of whether it makes sense to continue dedicating research to stylistic classification or whether other avenues may yield better insights into the production and consumption of these luxurious objects. Is it possible to posit modes of production or workshop models and if so, what modes or models? Can object types and/or carving and fixing techniques contribute to a differentiation of workshops, regions or time frames? Is stylistic analysis helpful at all and if so, what can kind of stories can it tell us? What interest did the Assyrian emperors have in amassing prestige objects of their defeated enemies? How did Levantine prestige objects reach such a wide dispersal from Iran to Spain?

Contact: claudia.suter@iaw.unibe.ch