Social and Spiritual Landscapes in Ancient Mesopotamia

Author(s): Naomi Miller

Year: 2017


Ethnobiologists have demonstrated that shared human cognitive processes generate cross-cultural regularities in how people categorize the natural world. The human ability to recognize taxa means that plant and animal classification is not totally arbitrary. In addition, ancient people would have had place-specific knowledge of the particular plants and animals living in the territories they frequented. Representations of plants and animals in relation to each other in a landscape therefore reflect an understanding of the "natural" world, but the meaning of the compositions is not necessarily self-evident. Archaeobiological data, ancient texts, ethnographic analogies, and plant and animal morphology and distribution are brought to bear in the analysis of two iconic objects of ancient Mesopotamia, the Warka Vase and the so-called "Ram in the Thicket." In both cases references to plants and animals set in a landscape can be read literally or metaphorically.

Cite this Record

Social and Spiritual Landscapes in Ancient Mesopotamia. Naomi Miller. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429878)


Geographic Keywords
West Asia

Spatial Coverage

min long: 25.225; min lat: 15.115 ; max long: 66.709; max lat: 45.583 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14326