Erin Darby

Interpreting Judean Pillar Figurines

Gender and Empire in Judean Apotropaic Ritual

[Zur Deutung judäischer Säulen-Figurinen. Geschlecht und Reich in apotropäischen Ritualen in Judäa.]

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ISBN 978-3-16-152989-4
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Published in English.
Judean Pillar Figurines regularly appear in discussions about Israelite religion, monotheism, and female practice. Erin Darby uses Near Eastern texts, iconography, the Hebrew Bible, and the archaeology of Jerusalem to explore figurine function, the gender of figurine users, and the relationship between Judean figurines and the Assyrian Empire.
Judean pillar figurines are one of the most common ritual objects from Iron II Israel. These small terracotta females have received a great deal of scholarly attention, appearing in discussions about Israelite religion, monotheism, and women's practice. Yet the figurines are still poorly understood. Modern interpreters connect the figurines with goddesses, popular religion, and females but often base their arguments on the presumed significance of the figurines' breasts and the Hebrew Bible. In contrast, archaeological context is frequently overshadowed or oversimplified. In an attempt to address these problems and to understand figurine rituals in Jerusalem, Erin Darby evaluates relevant Near Eastern texts, archaeological context, biblical texts, and Near Eastern iconography. She also explores changes in figurine iconography, the function of the figurines in rituals of healing and protection and the gender of figurine users.

Erin Darby Born 1978; studied Hebrew Bible and Near Eastern archaeology, Duke University in Durham, North Carolina; since 2012 Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee.


The following reviews are known:

In: Revue d'histoire et de Philosophie Religieuses — 98 (2018), S. 339–342 (R. Hunziker-Rodewald)