What Is A King To Do

What Is A King To Do

An Investigation of Images of Kingship

Historical Context
Smiting Image at USC

This project is part of the Divine and Human Form Project in the USC Archaeology Research Center which is concerned with representations of gods and people in material culture forms. Additionally, the researchers involved in this project are creating content for a catalog of USC's own artifacts. This catalog (online and in print) will include research on terracotta figurines such as the one shown here.

My research, which will be added to the published catalog, focuses on one particular ancient figurine in the USC figurine collection. The figurine in question is a Greco-Roman Egyptian terracotta figurine that shows an image of a man dressed in Roman military costume smiting a barbarian enemy. The identification of this artifact proved challenging because we have no details about its place of excavation, which means that a study of its form, content, and style are our only means of attributing it to its proper ancient time and place. To answer this question, research was conducted by analyzing comperanda and comparing them to the artifact in question.

Along with the identification of this artifact, it is necessary to have a more comprehensive understanding of what this artifact is by analyzing its origins historically and culturally. To do so, I conducted a study of historical uses of the so-called "smiting king" image and I investigated the context of its use through a study of Egyptian and Roman kingship.

Overall, the goal of this project is to identify a rare terracotta figurine by analyzing its form, content, and style, the images historical uses, and both Egyptian and Roman kingship. In the end, this project will add to a catalog of the USC figurine collection, and to the teaching of archaeology at USC using real ancient Roman and Egyptian artifacts, of which this is an important example that is, so far, unknown to the rest of the world.

Special Thanks To:

Prof. Lynn Dodd (Curator of the USC Archaeology Research Collection and Faculty Sponsor), and Kristin Butler (Inscriptifact).