Old Hittite polychrome relief vases and the assertion of kingship in 16th century BCE Anatolia

Date
2015
Advisor
Gates, Marie-Henriette
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Bilkent University
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English
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Thesis
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Abstract

The Old Hittite polychrome relief-decorated vases have attracted scholarly interest since the first substantial fragment was discovered at Bitik in the 1940s. Academics have concurred that the vases illustrate cult practice, but have differed as to whether the figures portray the king or the gods, both, or neither. The publishing in 2008 of a second nearly complete vase now permits a programmatic comparison between it and the famous İnandıktepe vase (published 1988). This thesis studies the vases’ decorative program and contends that the relief vases represent centralized monumental art. In contrast with iconography of the preceding and later periods, the vases portray gods without attributes. Similarly, the vases’ reliefs depict an anonymous king who engages alongside others in cult activities. Rank is de-emphasized. The focus on solidarity within the ruling group recalls the major historical document of the period, the Edict of Telepinu. Material evidence also links the vases to the network of royal storehouses, listed in the second part of the Edict. This political requirement of solidarity evident in the vases may have arisen from the exigencies of supporting chariotry, a new form of warfare.

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Old Hittite, Relief Ceramic, Central Anatolia, Storm God, Cult Practice, King, İnandıktepe, Hüseyindede, Boğazköy, Bitik, Eskiyapar, Alacahöyük, Telepinu, Reliefkeramik, Trichterrandtopf, Vexiervase
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Published Version (Please cite this version)