A little-studied aspect of the range of meanings assigned to ancient Near Eastern art concerns the association between artistic manufacture and the natural environment. In this essay I analyze the Elamite open-air sanctuary of Kurangun to suggest that this association takes place at the aesthetic level. The sanctuary was carved 80 m high on a rock-cliff overlooking the Fahliyān River as it flows through the panoramic Mamasani region of southwestern Fārs, Iran. It was originally created around 1650 BCE, with subsequent additions made during the Neo-Elamite period (ca. 1000-525 BCE). In general terms, allocating aesthetic agency to the natural environment means that localized landscape features such as caves, rivers, hot springs, trees, rocks, lakes, or mountains could be the source of affective qualities that engage the senses, the attention, and the intellect, and that are bound in time and space to specific cultural sensibilities and thus can be foundations for, and key determinants of, concentrated artistic endeavour. In particular, this essay seeks to provide key theoretical foundations to argue in favor of the participatory role that aesthetics of the natural environment play in the creation of Elamite art. The idea that the sanctuary of Kurangun was conceived of and materialized as the artistic expression of such an undertaking is further explained in terms of belief-systems that perceived the natural environment as the active medium in which life and human creativity integrated and came to identity.
|Title of host publication||Critical Approaches to Ancient Near Eastern Art|
|Editors||Brian A. Brown, Marian H. Feldman|
|Place of Publication||Boston; Berlin|
|Number of pages||32|
|Publication status||Published - 2014|