What Is Greek Aniconism?

Milette Gaifman

in Aniconism in Greek Antiquity

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199645787
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741623 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Ancient Culture & Representation

What Is Greek Aniconism?

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  • Greek and Roman Archaeology


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This chapter opens with a brief historiographic overview of aniconism, then considers the question of definition, and closes by suggesting methods for assessing the existence of the phenomenon. Aniconism is not only ideologically charged, but proves time and again to be a challenging concept. It forces us to accept shades of grey and uncertainty as we attempt greater precision and clarification. At the same time, an exercise in definition is worthwhile, for it establishes parameters for the examination of our evidence. Moreover, in considering matters such as what constitutes an aniconic cult, or how we are to assess the existence of aniconism in the archaeological record, we inevitably also face important broader issues regarding approaches to Greek religious art in general. The chapter offers the opportunity to reconsider some of the fundamentals of Greek art and religion.

Keywords: historiography; aniconism; aniconic cult; Greek religious art

Chapter.  13285 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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