Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Birds in the Aegean Bronze Age
Author: Binnberg, Julia Karin
ISNI:       0000 0004 7230 4927
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Please try the link below.
Access from Institution:
The thesis discusses bird depictions in the Aegean Bronze Age. The iconographical study is based on a catalogue of almost 2000 objects showing bird images from Crete, the Cyclades, the Greek Mainland and the Dodecanese dating to EB I - LB IIIC. Three research aims are addressed. The first aim is the reliable and accurate identification of the depicted bird species by finding a middle ground between the two approaches that have prevailed in past scholarship, which either consisted of overambitious attempts at species identification or resorted to overgeneralised accounts of bird imagery. A systematic identification methodology, based on a combination of techniques from iconography, ornithology and in particular anthropological studies of folk taxonomies, is developed. The second aim is the interpretation of any specific symbolic functions and ideological roles of birds in different regions and periods. This analysis rests on the combined study of media and find contexts as well as the chosen bird species and iconographical associations. The third aim is the reconstruction of types of ontologies prevalent in different regions. Based on a structuralist model of ontologies developed by the anthropologist Descola, the bird depictions are studied by looking for features that are typical of analogical, naturalist, totemic or animist art. Each research aim has yielded numerous results, which deepen our understanding of biological knowledge and cultural diversity in the Aegean Bronze Age. First, the vast majority of bird depictions can be identified as belonging to one of the following folk-taxonomical groups: columbids (doves), birds of prey/corvids, waterbirds, wading birds, owls, hoopoes, galliformes, swallows and seabirds. Second, the existence of a multitude of particular functions and roles of birds is revealed. These vary significantly according to time and regions, mirroring historical developments and the presence of different cultural attitudes towards birds. Third, marked regional differences are detectable with regard to ontologies. Cretan and Cycladic bird art is consistent with animist iconography discernible because of a pronounced artistic naturalism, an emphasis on movement and agency, and the presence of shamanic imagery. The images from the Greek Mainland can be characterised as being consistent with an ontology termed analogical by Descola because of a preference of stylised and modular depictions and the persistence of symbolic functions through time. This work lays a foundation opening up a new perspective on interpreting iconography of the Aegean Bronze Age.
Supervisor: Bendall, Lisa Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Aegean Civilization ; Ontologies ; Birds ; Iconography ; Aegean Bronze Age