Mixed Signals: Androgyny, Identity, and Iconography on the Graeco-Phoenician Sealings from Tel Kedesh, Israel.
Cakmak, Lisa Ayla
AbstractThis dissertation presents an analysis of the Aphrodite and Apollo seal impressions from the Hellenistic administrative building at Tel Kedesh. A significant amount of this study is dedicated to the analysis of the Aphrodite and Apollo pose types, and comparisons to the archives at Seleucia and Delos, among others. Other small-scale media, specifically terracotta figurines and coins, are also examined. Such objects, despite their small size, were accessible to a larger section of the population and thus, are considered to be a better gauge of the tastes and trends of a given culture. Once these comparisons have been made, I use both the images and the objects on which they occur, the bullae, to comment on two main issues: the presence of androgyny in the Kedesh corpus and its relation to Hellenistic art; and the role of cultural contact in the development and modification of Apollo and Aphrodite iconography in the Hellenistic Phoenicia. Pose types of both deities demonstrate a persistent presence of androgyny, either through the use of occluded rear views, or ambiguously rendered genitalia and secondary sexual characteristics. An investigation of the use of androgyny in Greek art, literature and medical texts follows, in which I argue that there is an underlying concept of androgyny present in all three, but it is not until the Hellenistic period, that overt sexual ambiguity is given physical form in images of the hermaphrodite. The Kedesh images pull back from such a dramatic display of physical androgyny but are, nevertheless, consistent with the aesthetics of the Hellenistic period. Using post-colonial theory to describe the socio-political situation in the Levant in the second century B.C.E., it is possible to conclude that the Aphrodite and Apollo bullae are part of a new visual language, unique to the region of Hellenistic Phoenicia; a trend that is also born out by the architectural and ceramic remains. Located on a fluctuating border between empires, Phoenicia, and specifically Kedesh, had long been in contact with many different cultural influences, resulting in a visual language that drew upon a mixture of new and old, imported and embedded visual imagery.
AphroditeApolloHellenisticAndrogynySeals and Seal Impressions
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