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Institute for the Study of the Ancient World



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11/17/2015 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Not in God’s Path

A Revised Chronology of the "Origins of Islam”

Parvaneh Pourshariati

One of the paradigmatic chronological demarcations in Middle and Near Eastern studies has been the notorious notion of a “pre-Islamic” vs. an “Islamic” divide in this history. For some in the field, the cue has come from the Arab conquests of the region in the seventh century, a series of conquests which have been, regularly and fallaciously, also identified as “Islamic Conquests.” For others, and even more problematically, the watershed has been based on the date of the Hijra, or Prophet Muhammad’s Immigration from Mecca to Medina in 622 CE – a single event in Islamic narratives of origin.
11/24/2015 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall
12/01/2015 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Empire, Personhood, and Child Sacrifice

A Case for Africa’s "Romanization"

Matthew M. McCarty

Ancient North Africa has long been considered a landscape of stasis, where cultural trajectories can be traced from the Phoenician colonization of the 9th century BCE through the Islamic conquest to modernity. The practices surrounding the Phoenician rite of child sacrifice in the Maghreb are often highlighted as a prime piece of evidence for this grand narrative. In this talk, Matthew McCarty will argue that we see marked shifts from the Phoenician rite into the Roman imperial period, and that these extend beyond the level of practice and into the conceptual realm.
12/03/2015 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall
12/07/2015 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Defense Architecture and Assertion of Social Order

Fortifications in Greece and Anatolia in the Age of the Palaces (ca. 1650-1200 BCE)

Çiğdem Maner

Since the discovery of sally ports covered with corbelled vaults in Mycenae and Tiryns, the suggestion that Hittite building techniques were applied in Mycenaean Greece has appeared in the relevant literature. This lecture will analyze and compare the fortification architecture of Late Helladic Mycenaean sites, such as Mycenae, Tiryns, Midea, Gla and Athens Acropolis, with the fortification architecture of Late Bronze Age Anatolia, specifically the Hittite fortifications. The lecture will also address questions of identity, technology transfer, the assertion of social order, symbols of power, and Hittite-Mycenaean relations.
12/08/2015 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

The First Investigations of the Antikythera Mechanism


Alexander Jones

During the first years following the discovery of the Antikythera Mechanism, its nature, purpose, and date were the subject of intense interdisciplinary debate among archeologists, historians of navigation, and classical scholars. In this lecture, Prof. Jones will trace how a basically incorrect identification of the Mechanism came to be widely accepted for half a century, as well as explore the unpublished investigations of the philologist and epigrapher Albert Rehm in which he proposed an identification that was correct in principle and anticipated many details revealed by recent research.
12/17/2015 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall
01/21/2016 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

CANCELED: ARCE Lecture: The Other Woman

Encoded Messages in Egyptian Art

Phyllis Saretta

Due to unforeseen circumstances, this lecture has been canceled.
02/02/2016 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Excavating One Man’s Lifeworlds in Early China

Jue Guo

Tombs are often considered as places of death and portals to the afterlife, and admittedly, they can function as such. However, viewing tombs solely from this perspective effectively overlooks that tombs are, as often, not only products of the living, but also designed to display the “lived” aspects of the dead. This talk focuses on such a tomb, closed in 316 B.C.E., from southern China, then the heartland of a mighty kingdom of Chu.
02/04/2016 06:30 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

AIA Lecture: Narrative Approaches to Counting Roman Amphitheaters

Sebastian Heath

By the Second Century AD, well over 200 amphitheaters had been built within the territory of the Roman Empire. The most famous of these, the 50,000+ seat "Colosseum" in Rome, is also among the most unusual by being the largest and most complex amphitheater around. While the crowds watching gladiators and animals fight, as well as criminals being executed, were huge at Rome, in Italy’s smaller cities and in the Empire's provinces they could be very much smaller. This paper explores the diversity in the size and capacities of amphitheaters by emphasizing the visualization of their spatial distribution. This in part means making maps, but also making use of modern tools for representing and exploring large data sets. When the capacities of amphitheaters are totaled, it is likely that there were over two million seats available for watching all the activities that occurred in these uniquely Roman structures. That large number provides one avenue to a nuanced understanding of the role of amphitheaters in creating and maintaining the territorial and political stability of imperial Rome.
02/11/2016 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

A View from Below

What a Bronze Age Village Can Tell Us About the Shang Dynasty

Roderick Campbell

The Shang Dynasty, or the second dynasty of Chinese historiography, is largely known to us from elite sources—be they royal divinatory texts, the archaeology of palaces and elite tombs, or the received accounts of kings and ministers. Indeed, despite the fact that archaeological investigation of the Shang dynasty is about as old as archaeology itself in China, never before in its nearly hundred year history has a village site been closely and thoroughly excavated and studied. This talk will focus on collaborative work at the first such site, Guandimiao, and the surprising things we are finding there—things that may force us to re-consider our understanding of Early China.
02/16/2016 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Shaping Religious Space in Roman and Late Antique Sepphoris

Zeev Weiss

This lecture will focus on the cultic buildings known to date in Sepphoris -- a Roman temple, two churches, and a synagogue -- and will discuss their implications for the study of the architectural development, social structure, religious behavior, and cultural relationships between the Jews and other segments of society in this late antique city.
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