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Composite Beings

(862 words)

Author(s): Wiggermann, F.A.M. | Uehlinger, Christoph
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Archaeology I. Religious Studies Composite beings are imaginary zoomorphic beings that consist of a combination of animal and human body ¶ parts. In this respect, they are closely related to giants, dwarfs, shape-shifters and animals that behave like humans. Composite beings are products of the human imagination and remain ambiguous as long as they are only represented by imprecise linguistic descriptions. Only those composite beings that become public symb…

Ashdod

(371 words)

Author(s): Uehlinger, Christoph
[German Version] is situated approx. 9 miles northeast of Ashkelon, 2.5 miles from the Mediterranean with a separate harbor on the coast. Its Canaanite name ʾaṭdādu, “trade fair,” suggests its importance as a commercial center. The site has been settled since the Middle Bronze; in the Late Bronze it traded with Ugarit and Enkomi. Sub-Mycenaean (“Philistine”) pottery appears at the t…

Snake/Serpent

(1,026 words)

Author(s): Uehlinger, Christoph | Staubli, Thomas
[German Version] I. Religious Studies Charms against snakebite and techniques for taming snakes are part of the repertoire of many religions. Frequently repeated, controlled snakebites can make a person immune to the venom and allow it to be used as a drug. The assessment of snakes and serpents varies, depending on whether they appear as enemies (Egyp. Apophis, Indian Vṛṭṛa, Hitt. Illuganka, West Sem. Leviathan, Bab. Tiamat) or as companions and guardians (Egyp. Mehen, Indian Śeṣa) of mighty deities, heroes, or kings. In mythological contexts, hostile ophidian monsters…

Ashkelon

(423 words)

Author(s): Uehlinger, Christoph
[German Version] (Ascalon) is a port city about 20 km north-northeast of Gaza; since the 2nd millennium bce its area has encompassed over 60 hectares, according to text witnesses spanning four millennia. Settled since the 4th millennium bce, it is cited first in the execration texts of the 19th and 18th century bce as “* 'i/ asqaluna” (“trading place” or similar). From the Middle Bronze Age fortifications and cult relics (bonze statuette of a young steer), among other things, have been found. In…

Gaza

(807 words)

Author(s): Uehlinger, Christoph | Hahn, Johannes
[German Version] I. Pre-Hellenistic Period – II. Antiquity I. Pre-Hellenistic Period Gaza was considered the most important city in southwestern Palestine, with a large, fertile trading area on the highway from Egypt to Syria, the destination point of the Frankincense Road from Arabia to the ¶ Mediterranean. It has been almost continuously inhabited since the second half of the 2nd century bce. The history of Gaza began, according to the evidence of its name (Canaanite ‘azzat, Heb. ‘azzāh, “strengthened, fortified”), toward the end of the Middle Bronze Age with the est…

Iconography

(6,550 words)

Author(s): Uehlinger, Christoph | Koch, Güntram | Arnulf, Arwed | Sed-Rajna, Gabrielle | Finster, Barbara | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Archaeology – III. Iconography and the Bible – IV. Christian Iconography – V. Jewish Iconography – VI. Islamic Iconography – VII. Buddhist Iconography – VIII. Hindu Iconography I. Religious Studies Iconography (Gk εἰκονογραϕία/ eikonographía) originally meant the description of images (Arist. Poet. XV; Strabo XV 1.19), but nowadays is used to refer to the methodical study of images. Where scholars distinguish between iconography, iconology , and iconics (Ger. Ikonik), iconography denotes the description of the object, …

Prohibition of Images

(1,982 words)

Author(s): Uehlinger, Christoph
[German Version] Closely related to the commandment to worship and confess one God only (Monotheism and polytheism) as well as rejection of the veneration of images, the prohibition of images has left its mark on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – each in a different way – to this day. The biblical prohibition of images is neither a general ban on all art, nor is it a blanket prohibition of particular phenomena of the visible world. It does not reject mental images of God or figurative language bu…

God, Representations and Symbols of

(7,207 words)

Author(s): Uehlinger, Christoph | Koch, Guntram | Stietencron, Heinrich v. | Kleine, Christoph | Wädow, Gerd
[German Version] I. Terminology – II. Ancient Near East and Old Testament – III. Greco-Roman World – IV. Religions of India – V. Buddhism – VI. Chinese Religions – VII. Japan I. Terminology Gods manifest themselves in the human world; after the analogy of human beings, they are usually envisioned biomorphically, with ascribed sex and genealogy, as well as varying levels of differentiation and autonomy (Demons, Angels, Spirits). Natural entities felt to be supremely powerful (e.g. mountains, rivers, springs, constellation…

Amulet

(1,267 words)

Author(s): Beltz, Walter | Uehlinger, Christoph
[German Version] I. History of Religions – II. Archaeology I. History of Religions Lat. amuletum (etymologically “giver of power”; Gk φυλακτήριον/ phylaktḗrion) is a term borrowed by religious studies from Patristic usage (e.g. Severus of Antioch, PO 29, 1, 79) to denote objects that people attach to their bodies, clothing, or dwellings to maintain harmony between themselves and the …

Jewelry

(1,031 words)

Author(s): Uehlinger, Christoph | Müller-Clemm, Julia
[German Version] I. History of Religions – II. Archaeology – III. Bible I. History of Religions Jewelry, attested since the Middle Paleolithic (75,000 bce), is part of the primarily visual repertoire of signs expressing group membership, social roles (such as gender, office, status or function) and identity, and used for communicating hopes, wishes, obligations and the like. Depending on whether jewelry is worn openly or concealed, the positive effect on the person her- or himself, intimate identity or its function…

Symbols/Symbol Theory

(9,049 words)

Author(s): Berner, Ulrich | Cancik-Lindemaier, Hildegard | Recki, Birgit | Schlenke, Dorothee | Biehl, Peter | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies Use of the Greek word σύμβολον/ sýmbolon in a sense relevant to religious studies is attested quite early in the history of European religions; Dio of Prusa (1st/2nd cent. ce), for example, used it in his speech on Phidias’s statue of Zeus in Olympia ( Oratio 12.59). In this context, the Greek term reflects the problem posed by images of the gods: what is intrinsically inaccessible to human vision (Vision/Intuition) is somehow to be represented visually. In religious studies, especially in the phenomenology of religion, the concept of sy…

Numismatics

(2,847 words)

Author(s): Hübnerr, Ulrich | Uehlinger, Christoph | Sommer, Andreas Urs | Hübner, Ulrich | Ilisch, Lutz
[German Version] I. Definition Numismatics is the historical science of money and coinage. The name derives from the Greek and Latin words for “coin”: νόμισμα/ nómisma, nummus. Following some pioneering work in the Renaissance, numismatics has established itself as a modern science at least since Johann Hilarius Eckhel (1737–1798), with its own methodological tools. II. Importance 1. Archaeology. As usually authorized official documents, coins with their epigraphic and iconographic information are of great value as sources for the history of civilizati…

Bullae and Seals

(587 words)

Author(s): Uehlinger, Christoph | Kalb, Herbert
[German Version] I. Archaeology – II. Church History and Canon Law I. Archaeology Sealed balls or lumps of clay with a diameter of 1–3 cm were pressed onto strings or knots to keep documents safe and authenticate them (1 Kgs 21:8; Jer 32:10–14; Neh 10:1; Dan 12:4), and to seal vessels, bags (Job 14:17), doors (Deut 32:34; Song 4:12; Dan 14:11,17; cf. 6:18), etc. The use of bulls seems to have begun in Egypt c. 2000 bce (11th/12th dynasties); in Palestine, bulls ranging from the 18th century bce to the Byzantine period have been discovered. Important …

Ivory Carving

(3,777 words)

Author(s): Uehlinger, Christoph | Bühl, Gudrun | Kahsnitz, Rainer | Haag, Sabine
[German Version] I. From the Beginnings to the Hellenistic Period – II. Roman Antiquity, Late Antiquity, Byzantium – III. Western Middle Ages to the Gothic – IV. Baroque to the Modern Era I. From the Beginnings to the Hellenistic Period Ivory carving is attested in Egypt from the 5th millennium bce, whence it reached the Levant by the end of the Chalcolithic. Tusks from African and Asian elephants served as the raw materials, in addition to tusks from hippopotamuses who lived in herds in Nubia, Egypt and Palestine (rarely, tusks of wild pig…

Dragon

(1,730 words)

Author(s): Uehlinger, Christoph | Böcher, Otto
[German Version] I. History of Religions – II. History of Art I. History of Religions The word “dragon” (from Gk δράκων/ drákōn, “staring one”?) denotes especially snakes and (mostly gigantic) snake-like composite beings with a numinous aura, but also other composite beings (e.g. the Mesopotamian “lion dragon”: RLA VII, 97–99). Dragons have only positive connotations in East Asia, where they appear as kind heavenly beings, providers of rain and light, and guarantors of fertility. Dragons are also known positively in West Asia, especially in the early Sumerian period, as em…

Veneration of Images

(6,489 words)

Author(s): Gladigow, Burkhard | Uehlinger, Christoph | Levine, Lee I. | Barrucand, Marianne | Ohme, Heinz
[German Version] I. Religious Studies Veneration of gods in the form of man-made images (I) is part of the development of human ideas about God. The nature of such images varies widely, from natural objects with little or no human work involved (rocks, posts, trees) to professionally produced works of “art.” For the structure of the idea of God reflected in images, the crucial question is whether they “merely” facilitate epiphany rituals or whether the gods regularly manifest themselves in the images through ritual guarantee, i.e. are made prese…

Seal/Stamp

(1,059 words)

Author(s): Uehlinger, Christoph | Köpf, Ulrich
[German Version] I. Archaeology Seals are attested in the ancient Near East since the pre-pottery Neolithic (c. 7000 bce), initially in the form of simple round or oval disks or theriomorphic stamps. Beginning in the late 4th millennium (Susa, Uruk), we also find cylinder seals (Good Shepherd: I, fig.). The latter were in use until the end of the first millennium bce, but they are also found in Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean region. In cultures where papyrus or leather was the commonest writing material, smaller stamp seals were preferred. In Egypt c. 2300 bce, carved stamp seals ca…