Theology

Timothy Hogue

With Apologies to Hazael: The Counter-monumentality of the Tel Dan Stele

Volume 10 () / Issue 3, pp. 243-256 (14)
Published 01.02.2022

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The Tel Dan Stele is an essential piece of evidence for reconstructing Iron Age Levantine monumentality. Not only can we reasonably reconstruct the circumstances of the stele's production, the circumstances of its discovery also provide important clues as to its later reception. In particular, it is clear from the stele's broken state and reuse at Dan that it was utilized in counter-monumental practice. The stele was intentionally destroyed when the Israelites conquered Dan and its pieces were reused as building materials in the city's gateway. Both the stele's destruction and its reuse in the gate's reconstruction were patterned performances, allowing the Israelites to perform their defeat of Aram before the Danites. These actions constituted a ritual forgetting of the ideology formerly afforded by the stele: the dominance of Hazael and the kingdom of Aram-Damascus. Thus embedded in counter-monumental practice, the stele was transformed into an ephemeral symbol of Aram-Damascus' defeat.
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