by Derek B. Counts and Bettina Arnold
Archaeolingua (January, 2010)
Old World iconography from the Upper Paleolithic to the Christian era consistently features symbolic representations of both female and male protagonists in conflict with, accompanied by or transmuted partly or completely into, animals. Adversarial relationships are made explicit through hunting and sacrifice scenes, including heraldic compositions featuring a central figure grasping beasts arrayed on either side, while more implicit expressions are manifested in zoomorphic attributes (horns, headdresses, skins, etc.) and composite or hybrid fi gures that blend animal and human elements into a single image. While the so-called Mistress of Animals has attracted signifi cant scholarly attention, her male counterpart, the Master of Animals, so far has not been accorded a correspondingly comprehensive synthetic study. In an effort to fill this gap in scholarship, The Master of Animals in Old World Iconography assembles archaeological, iconographical, and literary evidence for the Master of Animals from a variety of cultural contexts and disparate chronological horizons throughout the Old World, with a particular focus on Europe and the Mediterranean basin as well as the Indus Valley and Eurasia. The volume does not seek to demonstrate relatedness between different manifestations of this fi gure, even though some are clearly ontologically and geographically linked, but rather to interpret the role of this iconographic construct within each cultural context. In doing so, The Master of Animals in Old World Iconography provides an important resource for scholars confronting similar symbolic paradigms across the Old World landscape that foregrounds comparative interpretation in diverse ritual and socio-political environments.