Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Navigating Sennacherib’s Égalzagdinutukua: An Architectural Spatial Analysis Study Analyzing Movement, Access, and Art in the Southwest Palace at Nineveh

When Assyrian king Sennacherib of Nineveh ascended the throne (704-681 BC) and acquired control over the ancient Near East, he built his “Palace Without a Rival” and decorated its walls with carved relief panels showcasing his engineering projects, processions, and battles with adversaries from regions bordering Assyrian territory. Sennacherib must have had a purpose for putting particular reliefs in particular areas of his palace, however, he left no texts describing his interior decoration plan. Palace reliefs are a form of nonverbal communication that use descriptive detail and compositional devices as a substitute for speech and thought. The building structure would have been used to create both boundaries and open spaces which either allowed or prevented visitors to the palace access to specific rooms and relief content. This dissertation research employs spatial analytical computer models to create quantitative data for examining potential human movement patterns throughout the palace in order to explore access, or restriction, for viewing the content of palace relief art. The models were run from three entrance points of the palace to assess access for various types of visitors such as foreign dignitaries, servants, and the general populace. The first entrance was through the main Throneroom Courtyard H; the second was a secluded tunnel leading from the bottom of the citadel mound into a back hallway; and the last an entrance from an isolated supplemental throneroom off of the Western Terrace. The three entrances were analyzed using various models which mapped depth and accessibility including: j-graphs, gradation color-coded depth plans, axial maps, connectivity maps, isovist views, and virtual agent movement. Once the computer models were generated, each room and area of the palace was analyzed individually together with the information about history and art in order to establish and discuss potential movement patterns, accessibility, intention, and viewership.
Issue Date: Nov-2020



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