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Fear and Loathing at Amarna: A Case Study of the Development of Sacred Objects in Response to Communal Anxiety

Kasia Szpakowska


Many physical and psychological afflictions were believed to have been caused by malevolent demonic beings, who could be defended against by calling upon benevolent liminal entities for aid in those times of trouble. This article applies the theory that emotions experienced at a communal level can be discerned in the archaeological record—in this case, through the invention of new iconography and objects aimed at mitigating angst, fear, and anxiety. The introduction of clay cobra figurines at Amarna are used as a case study. Their development is analyzed within their temporal, historical and social context, and compared to other material, biological, and textual sources to determine their role in counteracting the inner demons shared by a community.

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