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Institute for the Study of the Ancient World



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10/23/2017 10:30 AM ISAW - 15 East 84th Street

Prospective Student Open House

ISAW's open house for prospective doctoral students will include coffee with ISAW students, faculty, and scholars; an information session about our academic program; a tour of ISAW and the ISAW Library; a Q&A session with current students; and an opportunity to attend an ISAW graduate seminar.
10/23/2017 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

AIA Lecture: Spying on Antiquity

Declassified US Intelligence Satellite Imagery and Near Eastern Archaeology

Jason Ur

In 1995, President Clinton declassified 800,000 photographs from CORONA, the United States' first spy satellite program, in order to make them available for environmental and historical research. Since then, imagery from the U2 aerial missions and from HEXAGON, the CORONA successor, have been declassified as well. Archaeologists working in the Near East have been quick to embrace these newly available resource, which capture images of sites and landscapes in the 1960's. Many of these landscapes have been damaged or destroyed in the intervening 40 years. This presentation will discuss how CORONA imagery has been used to study ancient landscapes in the Near East, with case studies from Bronze Age Syria, Iron Age northern Iraq, and late Antique northwestern Iran.
10/24/2017 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Theology of Liberation in the Second Millennium BCE

The Hurrian Song of Liberation

Eva von Dassow

Around 1400 BCE, Hittite scribes recorded a Hurrian epic poem entitled “Song of Liberation” in a bilingual Hurro-Hittite edition, in cuneiform script on clay tablets. Fragments of these tablets were discovered in 1983 CE in the excavations at Hattusha, capital city of Hatti. The poem tells a mytho-historical tale turning on the gods’ demand that the city of Ebla release the people of another city, Igingallish, whom they have subjected. The storm god promises prosperity and military success if the Eblaites release the people of Igingallish, and threatens to annihilate their city if they do not. But the senate of Ebla refuses to grant release, exercising their liberty as a body of free men to deny liberty to those who serve them. The city of Ebla was indeed destroyed around 1600 BCE, and this poem explains why. What was the condition of liberty to which the gods demanded that the subjected people be released, and why did this interest the scribes of Hatti two centuries later?
11/02/2017 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Eleventh Annual Leon Levy Lecture

The Roman Caesars in Modern Art: Missing Persons and Mistaken Identities

Mary Beard

Please note: the Leon Levy Lecture is now fully subscribed; we are only accepting names for our waitlist. This lecture will explore the representations of The Twelve Caesars (from Julius Caesar to Domitian) in western art since the Renaissance, aiming to show that they are a much more difficult, edgy, and contested art form than those standard line-ups of busts on museum shelves would suggest. Examples will range from ceramic to waxwork, stone to silver, and they will include the extraordinary set of sixteenth-century Silver Caesars (known as the Aldobrandini Tazze), which are shortly to feature in their own show at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. One underlying question (often taken far too much for granted) is why generations of dynasts, autocrats, the old and the new rich, chose to decorate their homes and palaces with this collection of (largely) monsters.
11/07/2017 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Language and Deception in the Gilgamesh Flood Story

Martin Worthington

The Flood story in the eleventh Tablet of Gilgamesh includes a mysterious message from the god Ea, featuring a rain of cakes and wheat. Since 1890 scholars have suspected some deliberate ambiguity (a forecast of the Flood disguised as a message about something else), and while the different proposals for how this may work make for a fascinating case study in the history of Akkadian philology, none of them quite work. A new solution is offered in this paper, and its broader implications are explored.
11/13/2017 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Ancient World Research and Tools in Synergy

Mark Depauw

Starting from the example of Trismegistos, Depauw will discuss how digital tools are transforming antiquity research. Heuristics used to be the most time-consuming task of the scholar, but are increasingly a matter of a few mouse-clicks. This implies that scholars of the ancient world will have more time to do what lies at the core of the humanities: asking questions and studying ancient society and culture critically. On the other hand, some of these new questions can only be answered by developing new tools.
11/16/2017 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Exhibitions Lecture: Photography and the Early Excavations at Knossos

A Closer Look in the Sir Arthur Evans Archive

Dr. Senta German

Sir Arthur Evans was not alone among pioneering archaeologists in his use of the important new technology of photography in his excavations at Knossos on Crete at the beginning of the 20th century. However, as it has recently been noted, Evans was unique in his frequent modifications of these photographs. This talk will discuss these modifications as well as recent work in the Sir Arthur Evans archive at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Oxford which point to the methods he used and some of his motivations. Ultimately the talk will reflect on Evans' broad interest in restoration of the site and its finds and how we might understand this today.
11/28/2017 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Monumental Art and Political Change in Ancient Syria

Alessandra Gilibert

In the 12th century BCE, when the dissolution of the Hittite Empire released the Eastern Mediterranean communities into times of profound change, the polities of ancient Syria began experimenting with monumental art on public display. Exploring new communicative practices, local rulers decorated city gates and ceremonial squares with colossal statues and cycles of bas-reliefs with an increasingly manifest political content. In doing so, they initiated a unique tradition of public art that lasted five centuries and exerted a significant influence on neighboring regions. This talk will focus on the city of Carchemish between 1200 and 700 BCE and explore how monumental art was used to reinforce political practices, negotiate power struggles, express changing civic identities, and challenge the status quo.
11/30/2017 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

The Prehistory of Crete

Malcolm H. Wiener

The lecture will first summarize quickly the history of Crete from the first known settlement in Crete c. 6900/6600 BC at Knossos to the collapse at the end of the Bronze Age c. 1200–1150 BC and the population nadir c. 1025 BC. We will then return to c. 1600 BC in order to focus on the nature and role of Knossian-controlled Minoan Crete and its seaborne empire at its zenith, considering among many other aspects the dependence of Minoan Crete on overseas sources for the copper and tin needed to create the bronze of the Bronze Age, the nature of the colonies, trading stations and ports of call required, and the cultural impact of Minoan Crete on the Mycenaean civilization of mainland Greece.
12/05/2017 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall
12/07/2017 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall
12/14/2017 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

ARCE Lecture: Tricks of the Trade

Scribal Creativity in Ancient Egypt

Emily Cole

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