The Individual and his Body in the Ancient Mediterranean Basin

Seminar 2016-2018
CNRS - Ivry-sur-Seine

page mise à jour le 13 juin 2018

Interdisciplinary research seminar organized by Alice MOUTON

The body of an individual connects this person with other members of his community, it constitutes a physical mean that enables him to interact with them. Without a body, no senses would exist and without the senses, no communication would be possible. However, the body also separates the individual from the other persons through its own inherited or acquired singularities. Thus one can say that someone’s body represents both a factor of social cohesion and of discrimination at the same time.
This theme has been very much explored in social anthropology but it has been almost completely ignored in cuneiform studies till now. In Hittitology, only the lexicography of the human body parts has been studied.

The Individual and his Body” seminar will be at the crossroads of history of religions and social anthropology, creating a dialogue between philologists, archaeologists, historians of religions and anthropologists. Its main aim consists in studying self-perceptions of the body in the ancient Near East, with incursions in other parts of the Mediterranean Basin in a comparatist perspective.

The seminar will be organized around various themes:

  • The human body and language, or its functions in the communication strategies;
  • The body, the perceptions and society, including a study of the senses as they are described in the texts;
  • The body as a symbol of social belonging, including a study of clothing, hair arrangements and jewellery as evidence of social statuses;
  • The body as a medium for religious experience, where we will see that an individual’s gestures, postures and movements are as significant as his words in the ritual process;
  • The body and death, or, among other things, the use of ritual over a dead body and what the consequences are on the spirit.

All the persons who are interested in assisting to the sessions are welcome. They can either come in person to the Ivry sur Seine CNRS center or connect themselves through internet to the sessions thanks to a video-conference program. For doing so, they have to contact Alice Mouton ( beforehand.

Informations and preliminary program 2016-2018

  • (20) 20 Juin 2018
    Yannick Muller (Université de Strasbourg)
    Mutilating the Body in Ancient Greece: Perception, Vocabulary and Practices