Rattle and Hum A Reassessment of Closed-Form Rattles in the Southern Levant

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Kristine Henriksen Garroway



Closed-form ceramic rattles are found throughout the southern Levant. Previous interpretations of these rattles focused primarily on their connection to music and the funerary cult. They overlooked the fact that rattles existed in household contexts, which links them to families and children. This study reassesses the ceramic rattles using an interdisciplinary approach centered on the family. It draws specifically upon household archaeology, anthropology, and sensory studies. It is suggested here that the ceramic rattles of the southern Levant had a dual function. The sound of rattles could quiet children while simultaneously warding off the spirits that were provoked when children cried. In doing so, the rattles would protect the child, and in turn the family unit. While the present study reassesses the ceramic closed-form rattles popular within the southern Levant, it has implications for further research on the other forms of rattles, such as open-form rattles and sistra, found throughout the ancient Near East.

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