The Enthroned Nude Female: An Exploration of Nabataean Domestic Religion Through a Terracotta Figurine Public Deposited

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  • February 26, 2019
  • Gray, Emily
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Curriculum in Archaeology
  • INTRODUCTION Religion in the ancient world was interwoven into the lives of its inhabitants. Temples and public shrines were prominent in the landscapes of the greatest cities to the smallest villages, emphasizing the divine force thought to control every aspect of life. Such monuments have received much attention, archaeologically and historically, for their importance in the culture of these past societies. These centers of religion, however, often addressed the broad concerns of the state and society; for example, the purpose of Egyptian temples was to maintain ma’at and the order of the universe. However, religious practice extended far beyond the precinct of the temple and was often integrated into the daily lives of all classes of society, from the elite to the common worker. In domestic space, for example, more intimate concerns were considered, particularly those revolving around individuals’ daily and home lives. Because of the frequent differences between the religion of the temple, which was often state-ordained and directed, and that practiced by individuals at the personal level, the investigation of religion beyond the temple temenos can provide great insight. The religious activities and objects of the home often illuminate a society’s beliefs as to how certain forces affected their daily lives with regard to issues ranging from sickness to procreation, and how such forces could be manipulated. Additionally, the traditions of the home, while maintaining a degree of continuity with those of the temple through similar objects and practices, tend to be traditions that are slow to change, allowing a look into practices and beliefs that stretch far into the past. This thesis focuses on an object type that gives a glimpse into such beliefs and traditions of one society, Nabataea. Terracotta figurines were a frequent part of domestic religious practice in the ancient Near East and Mediterranean.1 Through an in-depth analysis of the Enthroned Nude Female, an anthropomorphic terracotta figurine common to Nabataean domestic contexts, this study will show that Nabataea was no exception to the use of such objects in domestic religion, and that this figurine type is quite informative concerning the character of Nabataean domestic religion. This introductory chapter begins with a brief background of the land and people of Nabataea. Additionally, a review is conducted of the previous research into Nabataean religion and Nabataean terracotta figurines. Lastly, the goals and structure of this research are outlined in Section 1.4, thereby establishing the framework for the thesis.
Date of publication
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Gates-Foster, Jennifer
  • Bachelor of Arts
Academic concentration
  • Archaeology
Honors level
  • Honors
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2018
  • English

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