Deirdre G. Barrett is the Lamp curator at the Semitic Museum, Harvard University, and is currently cataloguing ancient oil lamps from Khirbet et-Tannur, Jordan, and the Cesnola Collection from Cyprus. From 1995-2006 she worked as both excavator and cataloguer at the Great Temple, Petra, Jordan, under the auspices of its Director, Martha Sharp Joukowsky, Professor Emerita of the Department of Anthropology and Institute of Archaeology and the Ancient World at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. She received a PhD in Anthropology from that institution in 2005.
How did the Nabataeans view their world at the time of the Roman annexation in CE 106? If it is possible to detect an altered perception after their monarchy was dissolved at that time, how can we be sure it was authentic and not a veneer, masking the identity of a disaffected people? One approach is to consider religious practice as a diagnostic for identity within Nabataean society. Religious practice is examined through the ceramic oil lamp, a ubiquitous vessel that can portray socio-political and religious symbolism and cultural hybridization.
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