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The Aniconic Image Of The Roman Near East

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines issues of terminology and sources. The following account of the terms ?aniconic? and ?betyl? illustrates how modern nomenclature reflects and regenerates the association between the Roman Near East and the aniconic. The chapter considers the validity of this model through the examination of some material evidence for Nabataean cult practices. It demonstrates that the aniconic and iconic as well as semi-iconic coexisted in the cultic sphere of pagan religions of the Near East. The chapter discusses the model articulated by E. Bickerman, and shows that the aniconic image of the Near East has its roots in Antiquity, and that this contrast between East and West as expressed in cult, while not reflecting the variety of cultic realities, is part of the discourse on religious practices of the Roman period.

Keywords: aniconic image; E. Bickerman; Nabataean cult practices; pagan religions; Roman Near East



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