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Cedar Forests, Cedar Ships
Allure, Lore, and Metaphor in the Mediterranean Near East by Sara A. Rich. x+280 pages; highly illustrated throughout in colour and black & white. 249 2016. Available both in printed and e-versions. Printed ISBN 9781784913656. Epublication ISBN 9781784913663.
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It is commonly recognized that the Cedars of Lebanon were prized in the ancient world, but how can the complex archaeological role of the Cedrus genus be articulated in terms that go beyond its interactions with humans alone? And to what extent can ancient ships and boats made of this material demonstrate such intimate relations with wood? Drawing from object-oriented ontologies and other ‘new materialisms,’ Cedar Forests, Cedar Ships constructs a hylocentric anti-narrative spreading from the Cretaceous to the contemporary. With a dual focus on the woods and the watercraft, and on the considerable historical overlap between them, the book takes another step in the direction of challenging the conceptual binaries of nature/culture and subject/object, while providing an up-to-date synthesis of the relevant archaeological and historical data.

Binding physical properties and metaphorical manifestations, the fluctuating presence of cedar (forests, trees, and wood) in religious thought is interpreted as having had a direct bearing on shipbuilding in the ancient East Mediterranean. Close and diachronic excavations of the interstices of allure, lore, and metaphor can begin to navigate the (meta) physical relationships between the forested mountain and the forest afloat, and their myriad unique realities.



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