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Of Torques and Birds: Identity and Status in Ancient Chorasmia (1st c BCE - 1st c CE)

A Talk by Fiona Kidd, University of Sydney

Wednesday, June 06, 2007
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Humanities Building 389
Los Angeles, CA 90095

The recently discovered painted portrait gallery at the monumental site of Kazakl’i-yatkan in ancient Chorasmia (modern Uzbekistan) provides a unique snapshot of pre-Islamic Central Asian elites rarely found in the archaeological record. But who do these portraits represent: are they kings, or priests or perhaps members of the ruling family? Located in a monumental building clearly associated with cult, the portraits provide a unique foundation on which to explore status and identity in the broader context of Iranian and steppic visual art. Status and identity are key themes in Central Asia, whose cultures are intrinsically syncretic. The region lies at the crossroads between east and west, blending influences from China to the Mediterranean. In this lecture, Dr. Kidd will discuss the identity of those portrayed at Kazakl’i-yatkan through an exploration of elements of status. An understanding of the visual construction of elite identity at Kazakl’i-yatkan will provide critical insight into one of the Dark Ages of ancient Central Asia.

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Dr. Fiona Kidd is a Research Associate in the Department of Near Eastern Archaeology at the University of Sydney. She has recently completed her PhD, with a dissrtation titled The Samarkand Region of Sogdiana: Figurines, Costume and Identity, 2nd - 1st  Century BCE to 8th Century CE. It explores aspects of regional and local identity in the Samarkand region of Sogdiana on the basis of costume represented on terracotta figurines dated to between the 2nd - 1st century BCE and the 8th century CE.

Dr. Kidd is a candidate for the East Asian Archaeology position in the UCLA Cotsen Institute.

(310) 794-4838

Sponsor(s): Center for Chinese Studies, Archaeology

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