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Drinking a God and Sacrificing a Drink: Agency of the Hittite Libation Vessels

Pilavci, Turkan

The material manifestation of the Hittite libation ritual, the vessels made from different materials, are known to us through the contemporary written evidence, the representations in the visual arts, and the archaeologically attested examples. All three types of evidence reveal a variety of vessel forms used for the acts of libation. In this study, I focus on the objects themselves and provide an overview of their specific forms: the beak spouted vessels, the ovoid shaped relief vessels, the arm shaped vessels and BIBRU shaped in divine attributes. These vessels have been previously published in site reports, survey books, and museum catalogues, as individual examples or part of an assemblage, but not as a corpus nor as agents in the ritual. The hitherto unpublished examples are introduced to expand and revise the typological classifications. I propose to highlight the materials and the forms of these vessels as important for the Hittites not only to serve a decorative function but as encompassing a presence and agency to achieve the completion of the ritual: serving and pleasing the deities. Therefore, I describe, contextualize, and analyze the vessels in order to outline the relation between form and function, as well as categorizing them according their formal qualities into sub-types. As the containers, they embody the gift, the sacrificial liquid, offered to the deities, preceding the offering and even the act itself. I define their role as “the fourth element of sacrifice,” following the offerer, the receiver and the liquid offered. The vessels are reevaluated in this study as agents dictating the respective acts of libation, and defining the ritual.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Thesis Advisors
Bahrani, Zainab
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 20, 2017