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Morello, Nathan (2016): A GIŠ on a Tree: Interactions between Images and Inscriptions on Neo-Assyrian Monuments. In: Hilgert, Markus (ed.) : Understanding Material Text Cultures : A Multidisciplinary View. Materiale Textkulturen, Vol. 9. pp. 31-68 [PDF, 3MB]

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The study of the relationships between images and writing in the Ancient Near East is a broad field, which includes different approaches of historical and philological analysis. In this article, I will focus on an aspect of such relationships that has been only partially analysed in previous studies, that is, visual and semantic interactions between images and inscriptions in some Neo-Assyrian monuments when part (i.e. one or more cuneiform signs) of an inscription interplays with the part of the sculpted image (i.e. one element of the image or part of it) that it crosses. The purpose of this article is to try to answer the following questions: is it possible to positively identify interactions of this kind? Is it possible to interpret their meaning and to understand their function (or functions)? Were they meant to be a sort of con- cealed “game” within the inscription, or were they meant to be seen? And once they were seen, who was the intended recipient, the audience, of such interactions? As will become evident in the course of the article, my belief is that there are no unequivocal answers to these questions.

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