Distant Impressions

The Senses in the Ancient Near East

Edited by Anne-Caroline Rendu Loisel, Ainsley Hawthorn

Hardback - £71.95

Publication date:

25 June 2019

Length of book:

224 pages



ISBN-13: 9781575069678

Although we often treat the senses as though they are immutable, fundamental properties of our physiology, the way we parse our sensory experiences is dictated by our cultural context. Accordingly, the essays in Distant Impressions explore the social aspects of sensation in the ancient Near East, inviting the reader to move beyond the physiological study of sensation to an examination of its cultural meanings.

The essays in this book approach the question of sensory experience in ancient Near Eastern societies from philological, literary, art historical, and archaeological perspectives. They address the means of sense perception (such as vision, hearing, and smell) and the objects of perception (such as light, noise, and odor), examining the senses within religious, political, and social frameworks. The first part of this volume looks at the monumental architecture, bas-reliefs, and tablets of the Neo-Assyrian period, while the second explores sensory dimensions of the built environment and textual representations of sensation in other times and places, such as Neolithic northern Mesopotamia and Hittite Anatolia. Building on recent scholarship that focuses on the social aspects of sensation in history, Distant Impressions brings this approach to bear on ancient Near Eastern studies for the first time.

In addition to the editors, the contributors include Elke Friedrich, Sara Manasterska, Alice Mouton, Kiersten Neumann, Ludovico Portuese, and Diana Stein.

“The sensory worlds of the Hittites, Akkadians, Neo-Assyrians, and late Neolithic Halaf culture are explored in essays by different authors within this interesting, well-researched, and attractively designed work.”

—T. Doran, Choice