Regional introductory essays

The first volume of IDD consists of regional introductory essays. Some of them address general issues of IDD's scope and methodology, while others provide religio-historical background information and elaborate on the 'grammar' and 'syntax' of iconography related to deities and demons both in a historical and in a systematical perspective. Introductory articles are written by the advisors to the project and comprise the following regions: Egypt, North and South Arabia, Southern Levant, Phoenicia (including Punic colonies), Cyprus, Greece and the Aegean, North Syria and Anatolia, Mesopotamia (Assyria, Babylonia), and Iran. The issues addressed within each cultural unit in both a historical and systematic perspective are:

  • Formative periods for the constitution of the iconographic symbol system relating to the representation of deities and demons
  • How does a particular iconographic symbol system address the issue of signifying divine identity and individuality, i.e., how can a figure be recognised as divine or numinous, and how can he/she be identified?
  • What are the visual vocabulary and syntax for representing the divine: major and lesser deities, demons etc.
  • Relative importance or not of:
    - anthropomorphism for the representation of deities (is there a relationship between anthropomorphism and the concept of 'personality'?)
    - theriomorphism for the representation of deities and demons
    - hybrid forms (Mischwesen, mostly: human and animal, or various animals) for representation of deities and demons
  • How does the iconographic symbol system express hierarchic status and relationships within the divine realm? How does it visualize divine societies?
  • What is the relationship of icon-type and name, image and text
  • To what extent can symbols and attributes represent deities to whom they are related?
  • What is the status of aniconic representation within a given symbol system?
  • Regional variations within a particular iconographic symbol system; supra-regional and regional deities
  • Depictions of human interaction with the divine?