W5: The Heavenly Bodies in Image and Text

Organizer: M. Willis Monroe (Brown University)

This workshop will explore the ways in which the heavens are portrayed both in text and image in Mesopotamian culture. Astrological and astronomical texts describe both phenomena and objects in the sky, including planets, stars, and constellations. Depending on the genre, different degrees of specificity were necessary. In text, celestial objects might be described generally or given discrete details useful for astronomical calculation. Likewise in visual imagery, the same objects might be depicted as an icon of the celestial body or aspects could be drawn according to measurements in order to provide a useful
schematic representation of the celestial object. Celestial objects also played important roles in royal rhetoric both in image and text. The two types of depictions influenced each other and at times even occupied the same physical space on tablets or reliefs. In addition, depictions of astral bodies show a long continuity beyond the traditional borders of Mesopotamia both in time and space.

Contact: willis_monroe@brown.edu