Chapter

Neither Eyewitnesses, Nor Windows to the Past, but Valuable Testimony in its Own Right: Remarks on Iconography, Source Criticism and Ancient Data-processing

CHRISTOPH UEHLINGER

in Understanding the History of Ancient Israel

Published by British Academy

Published in print October 2007 | ISBN: 9780197264010
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734946 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5871/bacad/9780197264010.003.0011

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Neither Eyewitnesses, Nor Windows to the Past, but Valuable Testimony in its Own Right: Remarks on Iconography, Source Criticism and Ancient Data-processing

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This chapter explores the potential use of visual sources, together with the methods employed for studying them, such as iconography or iconology, for the history of ‘ancient Israel’. It describes the theoretical and conceptual framework, particularly the notion of ‘eyewitnessing’, and considers the method, particularly iconography. The chapter also presents case examples chosen from monuments which are so well known to historians of ancient Israel that they are well suited to illustrate both the pitfalls of more conventional interpretations and the potential of alternative approaches. Before turning to the sources – namely visual evidence that may be related to the history of ancient Israel and Judah – the chapter discusses the state of the art among fellow historians in neighbouring disciplines, including those belonging to the so-called ‘humanities’ (or arts and letters). It also considers visual art and history, the metaphor of legal investigation, the balancing of testimony, and the particular status of an eyewitness.

Keywords: Judah; ancient Israel; visual sources; visual evidence; visual art; iconography; iconology; history; eyewitnessing; monuments

Chapter.  19685 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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