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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/24677

Title: Late Assyrian Arms and Armour: Art versus Artifact
Authors: Barron, Amy E.
Advisor: Harrison, Timothy P.
Department: Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations
Keywords: Assyria
art history
Issue Date: 4-Aug-2010
Abstract: The present study was intended as a new approach to the study of the military equipment of the Late Assyrian period which has traditionally relied upon the pictorial representations of the palace reliefs. By examining extant artifacts from the first millennium in their own right, with the reliefs merely serving to contextualize them, a truer understanding of Assyrian arms and armour can be gathered. This is necessary because the artwork only provides us with a filtered view of the real world, the reliefs are as much works of propaganda as of history. The approach taken here is to first examine the existing weapons typologically, and then to evaluate whether such weapon types appear to be accurately represented in contemporary artwork. Textual sources are also used where they can aid in the discussion. Five categories of arms and armour were studied: swords and daggers, spearpoints, shields, armour and helmets. The quality and quantity of the items in these categories varied significantly, providing for a much better representative sample of some items than others. Further questions concerning the possible ritual, rather than military, use of some of the existing artifacts were raised. However, the main conclusions reached were that the reliefs suffer not only from a propagandistic viewpoint which sometimes obscures the reality of Assyrian warfare, but that they also suffer from artistic license and spatial restraints, the difficulties in representing three-dimensional objects in a two-dimensional manner, the possible unfamiliarity of the artists with changing military technology and methods of construction, and finally, our inability to understand artistic short-hand for what were commonplace objects to the contemporary viewer. These have led to misunderstanding both as to the dating and chronological changes in weaponry, and also to the tactics used by the Late Assyrian military. This study of the artifacts themselves reveals a more mundane, utilitarian, and conservative military force which shows both a basic homogeneousness throughout the empire, and the myriad tiny variables of an army on the move drawing weapons and troops from many regions.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/24677
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations - Doctoral theses

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