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The Ceramic Oil Lamp as an Indicator of Cultural Change within Nabataean Society in Petra and its Environs circa CE 106


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.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-59333-628-8
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Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Dec 16,2008
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 204
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-59333-628-8
$134.00
$80.40

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, because religion is interwoven with a community’s worldview, thus shaping and reflecting its values.

Three ancient Nabataean sites have been investigated by the author: the Great Temple, a ceremonial site in Petra, Jordan; the North Ridge tombs, a funerary site, also in Petra; and the sanctuary at Khirbet et-Tannur, some 70 km north of Petra. Their diversity in sacred use is examined via the ceramic oil lamp, a vessel that can portray socio-political and religious symbolism, and whose ubiquitous presence at the sites provides the researcher with a wealth of material.

Through the analysis of the oil lamp fragments found at the sites, two major discoveries have been made. The first is the evidence for hybridization: an adaptation to the Roman presence at the time of the annexation. The second is the specific manufacture and use of lamps strictly for religious purposes.

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, because religion is interwoven with a community’s worldview, thus shaping and reflecting its values.

Three ancient Nabataean sites have been investigated by the author: the Great Temple, a ceremonial site in Petra, Jordan; the North Ridge tombs, a funerary site, also in Petra; and the sanctuary at Khirbet et-Tannur, some 70 km north of Petra. Their diversity in sacred use is examined via the ceramic oil lamp, a vessel that can portray socio-political and religious symbolism, and whose ubiquitous presence at the sites provides the researcher with a wealth of material.

Through the analysis of the oil lamp fragments found at the sites, two major discoveries have been made. The first is the evidence for hybridization: an adaptation to the Roman presence at the time of the annexation. The second is the specific manufacture and use of lamps strictly for religious purposes.

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.

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Contributor Biography

Deirdre Barrett

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.

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