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Muhammad's Community and the Spread of Monotheism in Late Antique Arabia
From Yemen to the Persian Gulf to the eastern shores of the Red Sea, monotheism, principally in the form of Christianity and Judaism, was spreading its tentacles around the edges of the Arabian peninsula in the Late Antique period and by the time Muhammad began his preaching, around 610 AD, of Muhammad, it had begun to penetrate the land's vast interiors. It used to be thought that the Qur'an was a reaction to paganism, but now it is becoming increasingly evident that it should be understood rather as a response to the Judeo-Christian currents swirling around its birth place in west Arabia. But why did Muhammad and his followers not simply adopt one of the two established monotheist faiths, what was their objection to them and what was the nature of their new community? This talk will look at some of the new discoveries of Christian and Jewish remains in Arabia and present the latest perspectives on the origins of Islam and the Muslim community.
A Cumulative Han Culture
Paradigms of Tradition and History in the Study of Early China
In the field of Ancient China studies, scholars have often turned to the more recent past and its many textual sources, to aid them in their efforts of illuminating the deeper past. What has allowed this ‘free movement through time’ is the notion that Chinese civilization is monolithic and unchanging: a cumulative culture that adds to its solid core. The issue of continuity vs. change is certainly not unique to Chinese scholarship, and ways in which scholars choose to reconcile long term regional developments, historical projections, and archaeological data in their studies vary widely. This talk calls for the continued reevaluation of the ways in which we approach the past by focusing on the tension between traditional narratives of a unified Han center and the existence of regional cultures during the Western Zhou period (1046-771).
Exhibition Lecture: Geographical Portable Sundials
Reliable Instruments or Roman Fashion Statements?
This lecture considers one type of Roman sundial represented in the exhibition that has not been sufficiently appreciated from geographical, cultural, and social perspectives. These are the miniature bronze instruments fitted with adjustable rings to accommodate the changes of latitude liable to occur during long journeys. This lecture will explore the possibility that often they were valued not so much for practical use, but rather as prestige objects.
Exhibition Lecture: Time and Cosmos in Greco-Roman Astrology
This lecture will consist of a brief introduction to the historical
development and the main characteristics of Greco-Roman astrology, to be
followed by a survey of the theoretical and practical importance of
accurate time-measurement in the practice of horoscopy and other
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