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    Looking up of a detail of a sculpture by Henry Moore outside the East Building

    Research Associates’ Reports

    Miriam K. Said
    Center 41

    Miriam K. Said

    Materializing Apotropaia: The Power of the Entangled Body in Neo-Assyrian Magical Arts, Ninth–Seventh Centuries BCE


    Amulet with a Lamaštu demon, c. early first millennium BCE, obsidian, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, James N. Spear Gift, 1984, 1984.348

    My current book project explores how material apotropaia depicting the Mesopotamian demons Lamaštu and Pazuzu were conceived as magically efficacious. Deploying a phenomenological approach, my research foregrounds the intersection of human–object relationships, materiality, presence, scale, and textual inscription with the goal of reconstructing the vibrant histories of these objects and their ritual function and animation. In focusing on the somesthetic responses to obsidian, bronze, and clay, as well as processes of making and transformations through usage, this project reshapes existing understandings of Assyrian perceptions of divine and demonic bodies, their representations within and outside of contexts of imperial art, as well as the materialities of intangibility and ephemerality in the first millennium BCE. 

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