Cognitive Archaeology and the ‘Ancient Mind’: Mesopotamian motifs in the formationof Egyptian elites in the fourth millennium
The study of the “ancient mind”, with its implications to the material culture and the actions of humans in the past, is currently ongoing. However, only a few segments of the archaeological research are advancing applications of cognitive studies in the field and producing insights inferred from their application. Transformations and variations in the archaeological data, as are figurative representations on objects, could benefit from a non-representational investigation and shed light on areas of the research still under debate. This paper, drawing upon the theory of material engagement, notions of extended and embodied cognition, material symbols, and material agency stemmed from anthropology, aims to introduce a brief outline of how iconographic motifs and styles have the capacity of guiding and influencing human becomingness. From this perspective, novel ways of examining the past may help to trace processes of becoming and to shed light on the interaction between Near East and Egypt at the end of the fourth millennium. Notably, the contribution focuses on how the presence of Mesopotamian motifs on specific Egyptian objects actively shaped and produced the basis for the creation of an elite in Egypt. Mostly due to lack in sources of data, the logic behind the processes of simplification and the birth of the Egyptian elites is still partially obscure. However, those periods of change are able to illuminate the importance between people and their cognitive environments and to give us more insights into the processes behind change and stability in the material and social worlds. Through an analysis of objects as partaking to a certain style, it is here advocated that a cognitive approach to figurative motifs has the potential to produce novel insights about social and cultural transformations among people, materials, and their environments.
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Emanuele Prezioso, "Cognitive Archaeology and the ‘Ancient Mind’: Mesopotamian motifs in the formationof Egyptian elites in the fourth millenniumt", in: Marco Iamoni (Edited by), "From the Prehistory of Upper Mesopotamia to the Bronze and Iron Age Societies of the Levant. Volume 1. Proceedings of the 5th “Broadening Horizons” Conference (Udine 5-8 June 2017)", Trieste, EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2020, pp. 125-144
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