The Social Functions and Ritual Significance of Jewelry in the Iron Age II Southern Levant
AuthorLimmer, Abigail Susan
KeywordsNear Eastern Studies
AdvisorWright, J. E.
Committee ChairWright, J. E.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation examines excavated jewelry from the Iron Age II Southern Levant, especially the kingdoms of Israel and Judah between 850-580 BCE. This assemblage allows for the identification of social functions of the jewelry in order to give scholars greater insight into an artifact class that has been little studied by archaeologists. Separating different social functions, and finding the criteria that made some jewelry objects apotropaic is also a necessary step in identifying ancient amulets, that being just one of the several possible functions of jewelry.Social functions are addressed by examining various characteristics of the jewelry found in excavations, including colors and materials used, and the terminology used for jewelry and its traits in the Hebrew Bible. Anthropological theory about dress and ornament is then applied to the corpus, focusing on visibility of jewelry, or what another person would be able to see in a social situation. This is useful for whole pieces such as bangles, earrings, and rings, but less so for jewelry elements such as beads, pendants, scarabs, scaraboids, and seals, which are examined together with the ancient texts and in terms of their individual characteristics.Color turned out to be the primary criteria for the choices of materials for beads, pendants, and glyptic objects. The most common colors of stone and synthetic jewelry materials were the same colors of cloth that were called for in ritual settings in the Hebrew Bible, suggesting that these colors were ritually powerful, and that the jewelry was as well. It is not clear whether they were powerful because they were used in the Temple, or vice versa, but the correlation is clear.Color was not the most important trait of earrings, nose rings, bangles, and rings, which were overwhelmingly made of metal. In those cases, size, location of wear, and available wealth appeared to be more important. These objects could, at a minimum, convey information on wealth, social status, and marital status to a viewer.
Degree ProgramNear Eastern Studies