W9: Tales of Royalty: Notions of Kingship in Visual and Textual Narration in the Ancient Near East

Organizers: Elisabeth Wagner-Durand and Julia Linke (Freiburg/Brsg. University)

Narration appears to be some kind of anthropological constant comprehensible in different cultures, modern and ancient. Narratives, both visual and textual, appear to have been used to create and legitimize royal authority. Aiming for an inclusive definition of narrative, we apply the following inclusive definition proposed by Landa and Onega: ‘A narrative is the semiotic representation of a series of events meaningfully connected in a temporal and causal way. …. Narratives can therefore be constructed using an ample variety of semiotic media: written or spoken language, visual images, gestures and acting, as well as combination of these.’ In this respect, narratives focus on a story line implying ‘significant transformations’ with substantial meaning for both the audience and the characters of the tale in question. Corresponding to these definitions, narratives may take the form of both texts and images. These media constantly apply in the legitimating strategies of ancient Near Eastern kingship. Thus, the workshop aims to determine which narrative topoi have once been selected to legitimize kingship, which media have been chosen to transmit these narratives, and what kind of narrative strategies were applied.

To consider both, texts and images, in the same margin, the workshop is based on a dual approach: referring to selected narrative themes both philological and archaeological material will be presented. Those themes selected by the organizers allow a consistent approach and a mutual discussion of legitimizing narration. Every session – apart from the first one which includes an opening paper by the organizers– consists of two talks engaging an either philological or archaeological/iconographical approach as well as a respondent paper discussing both approaches, methods and the potential amount of new information we can acquire via this approach.

The session topics encompass the following: 1) The righteous guided king: Tales of the wise, the pious and the lawful one. 2) Tell me how to live: Narrating royal building activities in the ancient Near East 3) Warrior tales: the royal hero in the ancient Near East.

Contact: elisabeth.wagner-durand@orient.uni-freiburg.de