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Bronze Age Anthropomorphic Figurines from Umm el-Marra, Syria

Chronology, visual analysis and function

Alice Petty


The subject of this volume is the corpus of 203 Bronze Age anthropomorphic clay figurines and figurine fragments recovered from various archaeological contexts at Umm el-Marra, Syria, between 1994 and 2002. As a class of objects, anthropomorphic clay figurines are an important subject of study because they are very common in the archaeological record and yet they are poorly understood. Figurines appear to have been an integral part of daily life for the people of the ancient Near East as early as the Neolithic period and continued to be crafted and used for millennia. Despite this ubiquity, many crucial questions about the figurines have yet to be answered: Who or what is being represented? Why does their appearance change over time, and what is the relationshA between their style and chronology? What were these figurines used for, and what can these enigmatic objects tell us about the lives and beliefs of ancient people?