We are happy to announce our first presenter for March, Rafaela Brosnan, with her presentation “About Face: Female Frontality in the Khorsabad Ivories.” Rafaela Brosnan is currently the John Wilmerding Intern for Digital Interpretation at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. She earned her master’s degree with specializations in Ancient Near Eastern Art and Archaeology and Curatorial Studies from the University of Chicago in 2020. Rafaela’s research interests include gender and sexuality in the ancient world, displaced objects, and social justice in the museum field. You can follow her on Facebook (facebook.com/rafaela.brosnan) and Instagram (@rafaela.bros)
Her presentation focuses on the role of female frontality, gender in composite creatures, and the unstable meanings of the Khorsabad ivory sphinxes in a cross-cultural context.
She has provided us with the following abstract:
“The Syro-Phoenician Wig and Wing ivory sphinxes excavated in Khorsabad (ancient Dur-Sharrukin) bear intriguing faces that demonstrate the power of female frontality, a composition that is still largely unexplored in scholarship on ancient Near Eastern art. In contrast to the frameworks of originality and hybridity that typically characterize this subject, this presentation examines the role of female frontality, gender in composite creatures, and the unstable meanings of the Khorsabad ivory sphinxes in a cross-cultural context. By exploring the ivories’ relationship to the ancient city of Dur-Sharrukin, I argue the ivories’ gendered frontal pose presents an innovative divergence from their Phoenician counterparts, transforming the Wig and Wing sphinxes and the specific connotations they are able to carry in a variety of contexts. This is due to the ability of female frontality to signal meanings based on the affective nature of sight in relation to knowledge, gender, and Assyrian customs.”