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Dr. Sophie Cluzan


Research Interests:

Archaeology of the Near East, especially of the Syro-Mesopotamian areas during the 3rd and 2nd millennium BCE; iconography and power and iconography and religion; temple inventories as a reflection of social and religious temporalities


Sophie Cluzan is General Curator of Heritage, specializing in Near Eastern antiquities, at the Louvre Museum. She studied Near Eastern archaeology and classical Arabic at Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne, the Ecole du Louvre and the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales. Sophie has been a curator at the Louvre since 1995, responsible for Syrian, Lebanese, Jordanian, Palestinian and Cypriot antiquities. She has also led collaborative projects with Middle Eastern countries such as Syria, Lebanon and Jordan focusing on heritage conservation and scientific research. Sophie is also an accomplished archaeologist with fieldwork experience in Cyprus, Syria, Jordan, and India. In addition to her national commitments and fieldwork, her recent research focuses on religion and power through contextual archaeology and iconography.

Project Abstract

Time and Temporality of Religious Mobility within the Ancient Center of Mari in the 3rd Millennium BCE: Production, Use, and Reuse of Votive Images

Early Dynastic Mari (3rd millennium) shows evidence of an unprecedented and in many ways unparalleled use of personal images (statues) in its religious and social practices. Among many other votive offerings of the city, these human substitutes play a major role in presenting a chosen image of the society in the context of its religious sites, reflecting its diversity and complexity as well as the different temporalities of its cultic, social, and political activities. In addition to the human lifetimes they are meant to represent, the continuous use and possibly reuse of these human substitutes is also a major component of the prevailing perception of time in the kingdom at the time of the first actual historical records. Moreover, the mixing and integration of different personal and social temporalities in specific areas of the city points to the existence of so-called temples, which function as repositories of integrated memory and time, as well as geographical landmarks of history.

Following an interesting concept of the division between mobility and immobility, walking is an important component of male representation, reflecting their specific religious and social behavior, and possibly reflecting different temporalities inside and outside the temples, as well as inside and outside the city, within a religious territory yet to be defined.

Within the framework of the Einstein Center Chronoi, this research will be extended in a wider context, based on a close collaboration with Cinzia Pappi. We will try to compare and integrate in a unique study the data of the Early Dynastic Kingdom of Mari, as described above, with the textual and material evidence of its following periods, from 2250 BCE onwards. This comparison will focus on the existence of resilient religious processes, with an emphasis on the temporality of mobility within the territory.

Curriculum vitae

Since 1995

Curator, Department of Oriental Antiquities, Louvre Museum, Paris 

(Syrian, Lebanese, Jordanian, Palestinian and Cyrpiot antiquities from prehistory to the 1st millennium BCE).

Director of the Syrian-French Archaeological Mission of Damascus 

(Tulul el-Far, Tell Taouil, Tell Kharaze).

Member of the French Archaeological Mission of Mari, Syria 

(focusing on contextual archaeology related to votive sculpture, votive offerings, and religious activities in the kingdom).

Member of the Syro-French Archaeological Mission of Ugarit, Syria 

(focusing on cylinder seals and iconography in context).

Member of UMR 8167, CNRS.

Expert on Syrian Heritage (UNESCO), Near Eastern Heritage (ICOMOS) and Heritage (European Commission).

Selected Publications

2019. "Ištar-uš, and Gištarat: Three Temples for One Goddess in the Kingdom of Early Dynastic Mari. New Insights on the Interactions between Religious and Socio-Political Systems." In Ancient Near Eastern Temple Inventories in the Third and Second Millenia BCE: Integrating Arhcaeological, Textual, and Visual Sources, edited by Jean M. Evans and Elisa Roßberger, 45-62. Gladbeck: PeWe-Verlag.

Forthcoming (2023), ed. Votive Deposits in Early Dynastic Temples. Austrian Academy of Sciences (with three personal contributions).

Forthcoming (2024). "Statues et matérialisation du sentiment religieux dans la Ville II de Mari: Expression de l'individualité et de la société." In Eblouir les dieux. La vie religieuse à Mari pendant la Ville II (2500-2300 avant notre ère), edited by P. Butterlin. Leuven: Peeters. 

Forthcoming (2024). "Mari, une communauté en marche. Images votives, rites et intégration dans un royaume de l’Euphrate au milieu du IIIe millénaire." In Les mobilités humaines en Méditerranée antique, edited by C. Moatti and P. Ballet. Publications de la Maison des Sciences de l'Homme - Mondes. 

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