COMPOSITE HUMAN-ANIMAL FIGURES IN EARLY URBAN NORTHERN MESOPOTAMIA: SHAMANS OR IMAGES OF RESISTANCE?
Summary: Urban growth in northern Mesopotamia in the early fourth millennium BC was accompanied by an increase in clay container sealings, reflecting the intensified movement and management of resources and manufactured items. The diverse imagery impressed into these sealings includes a human‐ibex grasping a pair of snakes, a bird‐human, and other composite figures. The human‐ibex in particular has been identified as a ‘shaman’, but this is not an appropriate term. The early fourth millennium BC was a period of enormous social and economic upheaval generated by the growth of cities and institutions. Composite figures may have expressed resistance to increasingly structured lived experiences, acknowledging the paradoxes of urban living and affirming the continued presence of the unexplainable.
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