Sponsored by: Archaeology Society of Staten Island
The Dr. Esther Grushkin Memorial Lecture, presented by Dr. Amy Rebecca Gansell (St. John’s University)
This presentation takes us into the palaces of ancient Assyria in northern Iraq to discover the robes and regalia worn by queens during the 800s to 600s BCE. Based on artifacts from royal tombs found beneath Nimrud’s Northwest Palace, I reconstruct dress ensembles from head to hem, presenting a variety of gold headdresses, jewelry, garment decorations, and even surviving pieces of fabric. I will then demonstrate a sample ensemble on a digital 3-D model that also draws inspiration from the few surviving depictions of queens in Assyrian art. To better understand how queenly dress looked and felt in life, I will introduce striking ethnographic comparisons to traditional Middle Eastern wedding dress.
To dress up as an ancient Assyrian queen, a royal woman exercised the privilege of transforming her body into a personification of queenship. Through the visual and material aspects of her dress, a queen embodied an integral part of the empire, and, after her bones had turned to dust in the tomb, the durable artifacts of her regalia preserved her identity. Her outfitted corpse was also believed to carry her identity as queen into the afterlife where she was dressed to live in the netherworld palace of the gods, in whose image her earthly appearance was fundamentally cultivated.