Letteria Grazia Fassari & Raffaella Frascarelli. 2022. Embodying the Past: The Case of the Goddess on Lion at Hasanlu. In: Katrien de Graef et al. (eds.), The Mummy Under the Bed . Essays on Gender and Methodology in the Ancient Near East, 253-287. Münster: Zaphon.
Rooted within the Central Asian iconography of the sacred from the 3rd millennium BCE until the arrival of Islam, also related to the mixed pantheons that combine Central Asian, Iranian, Buddhist, Hindu and Chinese divinities, the image of the goddess riding a lion in the Hasanlu bowl offers the chance to investigate its origin. Posture, attire, lion, divine emblems mark her belonging to a cultural horizon that seems to allude to the nomadic peoples of the Eurasian steppe. The Iranian, Assyrian, Syro-Hurrite, Elamite, Hurro-Urartian, Transcaucasian influences make Hasanlu a privileged observatory to analyze the regulatory apparatus affecting gender hierarchies. Eluding the boundaries imposed by the binary vision, the nomadic lifestyle seems to free the body in favor of fluid strategies necessary to deal with harsh natural conditions. Indeed, some iconographic details of the Hasanlu bowl might reveal a social dimension related to an unconventional gender performativity caused by the mobilization of cultural resources that identified nomadism. Furthermore, the presence of the riding goddess at Hasanlu suggests scrutinizing the cyclical infiltration of nomadic cultures within Anatolia and Mesopotamia. Exploring gender, questioning its epistemic boundaries, enquiring how gender stereotypes have crystallized over time, this paper proposes an inception towards a different history whose traces may have been lost in the unwitting binarism of expertise.