Deciphering Later Neolithic stamp seal imagery of Northern Mesopotamia
Keywords:Neolithic, stamp seals, symbolism
Stamps, pendants and related image bearing objects of the Near Eastern Neolithic are commonly treated as markers of property control and as precursors of writing. Through a basic stylistic analysis of image and shape relations, this study focuses on material from later 7th and the 6th millennium BC Northern Mesopotamian sites in an attempt to understand the symbolic role of stamps within the wider context of social practice. I suggest that the stamps and pendants may have been objects that elaborated on their user’s identity in various spheres of social membership. More significantly, these objects may have introduced a new discursive field through which personal iden- tities and community structures began to be redefined with reference to male sexuality. This interpretation is demonstrated by the dominance of phallic imagery within the stamp assemblages of the time period and the links built between these phallic images and the remaining stamp corpus which is composed of powerful imagery surviving from the earlier Neolithic of the region.
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