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Death in the province: mortuary practices and Roman imperialism in Syria and Lebanon by Administrator — last modified Jan 09, 2011 10:26 PM
Mortuary practices represent a rich collection of material and epigraphic evidence about Roman Syria and Lebanon. Between the late 1st c BCE and the 3rd c CE, tombs not only became larger and more conspicuous, but also reveal great stylistic variation and illustrate the adoption and adaptation of architectural and sculptural trends from Greece and Rome. The cemeteries, and in particular the walls of the tombs, emitted new messages about status, kinship, and ethnic (local) identity. At the same time, other aspects of funerary ritual, for instance the treatment of the body and the placement of grave goods, remained firmly based on older, pre-Roman traditions.
The Lycians and their Tombs: Lycian Funerary Monuments as Representations of Social Affiliation and Individuality by Administrator — last modified Jan 09, 2011 10:58 PM
Based on my research as part of the University of Vienna’s interdisciplinary “Corpus of Lycian inscriptions” project, my paper focuses on Lycian funerary culture during the Dynastic period (6th to 4th centuries BC). Taking into account the different types of sepulchral monuments, their formal principles and the existence of reliefs and inscriptions, I will discuss in what way the Lycian funerary monuments represent social affiliation, social distance, and individuality. What choices did individuals and families make with respect to architectural, iconographic and epigraphic features of their tombs, and to what degree were these choices influenced by social structure? To what extent did they adapt and reshape elements of predominant civilizations like the Persians and the Greeks and what can we conclude from this in terms of acculturation and social distance? In this perspective I will pay particular attention to the inscriptions that some funerary monuments bear. I will outline how far the inscriptions contribute to our understanding of social groups, institutions, politics, religious beliefs and burial customs as well as to the significance of writing in Dynastic Lycian culture. In addressing the aforementioned questions I will also draw comparisions to other civilizations. In addition, I will briefly outline areas of future research in Lycian studies as well as perspectives for cross-cultural investigations. Please note that audio recording and photography of any kind is not permitted at ISAW activities without prior consent. Requests can be emailed a week or more in advance to isaw@nyu.edu.
Continuity vs. Collapse? Some Thoughts on Central Anatolia After the Fall of the Hittite Empire by Administrator — last modified Jan 07, 2011 11:12 PM
The fall of the Hittite Empire can be regarded as an extraordinary case study in the collapse of Empires. A territorial state, which came to dominate all of Anatolia and Northern Syria for over 400 hundred years, suddenly disappeared, totally forgotten in later historical records. Until the late '80s archaeologists and historians provided different interpretations of the Empire’s sudden collapse: some put the blame on external causes (such as migration, war, or climate change), others on internal causes (such as social conflicts or dynastic power struggles). However, since the late 1980s, with the discovery of new evidence from the south-eastern Anatolia, it has become clear that some ‘Hittite’ or Luwian royal dynasties continued to exist from the end of the Bronze Age into the Iron Age, necessitating our view on the collapse and continuation of the Empire to be changed considerably. Hence, 1.) The continuity between the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age in Central Anatolia has been better appreciated and 2.) The fall of the Empire is now understood to have been a slow process of decadence rather than a real collapse. This paper will present recent archaeological and epigraphic finds from Central Anatolia, and discuss the alleged antinomy “continuity vs. collapse” by considering: a. the main features of the different EIA ceramic zones in Central and Southern (Cappadocia) Anatolia. b. the new results of the Pavia University Survey of settlement patterns and ceramic production in Southern Cappadocia. c. the study of the Luwian Hieroglyphic ANDAVAL inscription as a recourse to a new understanding of the formation of political units after the collapse of the Hittite Empire. The analysis of these aspects will set the basis for a new paradigm for the formation of the Iron Age states in Central Anatolia, between the Syro-Levantine “ethnic state” and the Ionian archaic polis. Please note that audio recording and photography of any kind is not permitted at ISAW activities without prior consent. Requests can be emailed a week or more in advance to isaw@nyu.edu.
The 'House of Mopos' and Assyria: On the Chronology of Karatepe in Plain Cilicia by Administrator — last modified Jan 07, 2011 11:18 PM
In 1997 a statue of the Storm-God was found near the village of Çineköy, south of Adana. It bears a Luwian and Phoenician bilingue of Awarik, King of Hiyawa, also known from Assyrian sources as Urikki, King of Que. The inscription reveals not only new information on the origin of the ruling dynasty of Iron Age Cilicia, but gives also new arguments for a more precise dating of Azatiwada, the well-known founder of the stronghold of Karatepe. In the present paper, it will be argued on the base of both historical and archaeological considerations that the art of Karatepe should be dated to the midth of the 8th century BC, almost half a century earlier as proposed by the excavators. Please note that audio recording and photography of any kind is not permitted at ISAW activities without prior consent. Requests can be emailed a week or more in advance to isaw@nyu.edu.
Late Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean Civilizations: Internationalism, Prestige and Societies by Administrator — last modified Jan 07, 2011 11:20 PM
By focusing on the exchange of the so-called prestige goods, and the use of internationally shared symbols during the Late Bronze Age eastern Mediterranean, this paper will address the social organization of the period and the underpinning mechanisms of ideological and political control. The major powers of the time (Egypt, Hatti, Mitanni, and Babylon) had intense relationships marked by a frequent exchange of official letters not only between the major players, but also between them and their vassals. The level of exchange is especially visible in the archaeological records, through the frequency and wide distribution of specific artefacts such as pottery, and also through prestige objects such as ivory, gold and faience. Beside the large Empires, participating states included Cyprus, the Aegean, and the city-states of the Levantine coast. During this age of international exchange of goods, ideas, and men, concrete strategies for foreign or exotic good acquisition were essential and contributed to the status of the initiated state. Prestige goods, beside being part of the diplomatic language, comprised one of the chief motivations for international exchanges, and were a unifying element as attested by the development of the so-called international style within the eastern Mediterranean. Therefore, this wide area has been sometimes studied as a single entity, without considering the specificities of its different constitutive regions. If such a view is necessary for our understanding of trade and exchange mechanisms within an international frame, it should only be considered as the first step of the analysis. Indeed, such an approach has a tendency to draw a homogenizing picture of the area, somehow assuming that international contacts entailed some kind of social uniformity, at least for the elites consuming the same types of prestigious goods. Therefore when only conducting a “generic” approach, our modern perception of the societies and our interpretation of artefacts may easily be biased and homogenized, because for instance it is a common knowledge that the same type of objects could individually carry different level of meaning, according to its social and geographical distribution. Beyond the “prestige” association that can be attributed to internationally exchanged precious goods, a more subtle refinement can be obtain for each region, depending on the object’s contexts of use and consumption. Attempts to differentiate how a specific object was viewed, appreciated and used are especially possible for certain widely distributed artefacts, and require the consideration of all the available data, from texts to archaeological objects, and the questioning of whether distribution patterns and regional characteristics appear by reviewing evidence of the context, uses of the object or associated symbol, and the social status of their owners. Through the use of specific examples such as light two-wheeled chariots and seafaring ships, this paper will demonstrate that such an approach, when applied to objects and / or symbols of internationally shared interests, reveals intrinsic social mechanisms of elite groups, and has the potential to shed new light on our interpretation of the society and of the organization of trade and long distance exchange. Please note that audio recording and photography of any kind is not permitted at ISAW activities without prior consent. Requests can be emailed a week or more in advance to isaw@nyu.edu.
Haremhab, The General Who Became King by Administrator — last modified Jan 07, 2011 11:22 PM
This talk is an introduction to the exhibition “Haremhab, The General Who Became King” at present on view in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The focus of this exhibition is the Metropolitan’s statue of Haremhab as a Scribe, the best known three-dimensional image of this important historical figure, created while he was commander in chief of the army under Tutankhamun but showing him as a scribe and thus an administrator and wise man. About 70 objects – predominantly from the Metropolitan’s collection – are displayed around the statue as visual means to understand its multi-layered character. The talk will explain why these objects were chosen and how they relate to the statue. Please note that audio recording and photography of any kind is not permitted at ISAW activities without prior consent. Requests can be emailed a week or more in advance to isaw@nyu.edu.
Portraits in Miniature: Glyptic Art from Bactria to Gandhara, 4th – 8th century CE by Administrator — last modified Jan 19, 2011 11:15 PM
The vast geographic region that stretches from northwest Afghanistan, north of the Hindu Kush (ancient Bactria), across eastern Afghanistan and south of the Hindu Kush into Pakistan (ancient Gandhara) has long been a crossroads for the exchange of goods and ideas from the Mediterranean to the China Sea and Indian Ocean. Afghanistan, in particular, was a meeting point for travelers—traders, missionaries and pilgrims, who represented a rich and broad ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity. The region had come under the successive control of different entities—Achaemenid Persians, Alexander and his Seleucid successors, nomadic Kushans, Sasanian Persians, Hunnic tribes, and Turks—each of whom also left their cultural mark; and, as a result it was home to diverse religious beliefs, most prominently Buddhism, Hinduism and Zoroastrianism. The last twenty years have seen an increase in scholarly interest and an expansion of knowledge of the region’s culture and history. This, in great part, has been spurred by the coming to light and subsequent decipherment of the Bactrian documents and the refinements by numismatists of the sequence of rulers known from the vast number of coins. Nevertheless, the actual history of the region from the end of the Kushana Empire to the coming of Islam—political, social and artistic—is imperfectly known. Fixed chronological points for this time span are minimal, depriving us of a clear picture of historical and cultural developments. For art history, much of the painting and sculpture of the region lacks internal evidence for dating; this has also been the case for seals, which, after coins, forms the largest category of visual documentation. Recent discoveries and the accessibility of unpublished seal collections have provided insight into the cultural dynamics and chronology of the region. I have been privileged to study these hitherto unavailable collections, which not only contribute to our understanding of the region’s art but to the social and economic interactions among officials and others in this part of the world. My talk will survey the range of glyptics from Bactria to Gandhara and focus on the style and meaning of the predominant mode, the so-called portrait seals. Please note that audio recording and photography of any kind is not permitted at ISAW activities without prior consent. Requests can be emailed a week or more in advance to isaw@nyu.edu.
The Monsters and the Critics: Mesopotamian Heroes, Myths, and Monsters by Administrator — last modified Feb 10, 2011 10:34 AM
In the land bounded by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the first cities rose in Mesopotamia’s southern plains. Bastions of human civilization, ordered and protected by their patron gods, the cities were yet perpetually threatened by the wilderness beyond – the steppes, the deserts, the mountains, and the seas – which sheltered not only human enemies who rose at uneasy intervals to sweep violently over the cities of the plains but also those terrifying supernatural entities, the demons, that stalked their human prey in the darkness, and the monsters, those lonely and terrible denizens of the rocky mountains, the thickly wooded forests, and the tumultuous seas, that rose to challenge the power of the gods themselves. The relationship between the civilized and the wild was by no means a purely hostile one, however; rather, the visual and literary treatments of the subject are characterized by a remarkable subtlety and sensitivity of handling. Focusing here on the literary texts of the region, and especially the Gilgamesh narratives, this lecture explores that dynamic and unstable interface where order meets chaos, as well as more compelling questions about the role, interaction, and importance of heroes and monsters in Mesopotamia. Please note that audio recording and photography of any kind is not permitted at ISAW activities without prior consent. Requests can be emailed a week or more in advance to isaw@nyu.edu.
Belgians at Bersha. Recent fieldwork in the Old Kingdom necropolis and the intact tomb of Henu by ISAW IT — last modified Feb 11, 2011 10:22 AM
Since 2002 Leuven University (Belgium) has been conducting excavations at the site of Dayr al-Barsha in Middle Egypt. This place was used as a necropolis by the inhabitants of the nearby provincial capital Hermopolis throughout most of ancient Egyptian history. Dayr al-Barsha is most famous for its Middle Kingdom monarchs’ tombs, including the well-preserved tomb of governor Djehutihotep, but the site also contains a large Old Kingdom rock necropolis. This lecture will focus on the different types of Old Kingdom burials that are encountered here, and in particular on a number of tombs that preserve a restoration inscription dating to the late First Intermediate Period. What this restoration consisted of, became clear when the intact burial of Henu was found, an administrator serving under a governor named Djehutinakht at the end of the First Intermediate Period. This burial contained not only the perfectly preserved coffin and mummy of the deceased, but also a number of wooden tomb models portraying scenes of daily life in Ancient Egypt.
Fishing and Aquaculture in the Roman Mediterranean by Administrator — last modified Feb 23, 2011 11:36 AM
It has been generally assumed that the contribution of fishing in the ancient world was negligible because of the inefficiency of fishing technology. In fact, archaeological and documentary evidence indicates that fishing in the Roman world was well-organized, on a large scale, and used very efficient techniques which remained unaltered in the Mediterranean until the post-World War II period. This lecture will discuss the techniques and evidence for large-scale fishing, attested in conjunction with the “industrial” fish salting factories known in many parts of the Roman world, from the Straits of Gibraltar to the Black Sea. The lecture will also discuss ancient marine aquaculture, in particular pisciculture, focusing on the archaeological, literary and juridical sources. The Romans developed intensive marine pisciculture to a considerable degree of sophistication and efficiency thanks to important technological innovations, a knowledge that was completely lost in the subsequent historical periods. It is only in the 20th century that one again finds successful intensive marine pisciculture. Please note that audio recording and photography of any kind is not permitted at ISAW activities without prior consent. Requests can be emailed a week or more in advance to isaw@nyu.edu.
The Assyrians from History to Myth: the creation of a politico-religious concept in the self-definition of Syriac Christian communities by Administrator — last modified Jan 21, 2011 04:10 PM
Although Syriac-speaking Churches developed in the very geographical areas that were once part of the Assyrian Empire, the huge chronological gap leaves room for the past to be reinterpreted. The local Christian populations living under Byzantine and Sasanian and then Islamic states thus fantasized about their origins, moving from an utter rejection of the Assyrians who were viewed, according to biblical models, as a type of completely evil people (including, from their perspective, the Muslim Arabs), to their adoption as revered ancestors in modern times. It is the story of this vision and acculturation of the very distant local past of the Near East that can be read through the Syriac historical texts. Please note that audio recording and photography of any kind is not permitted at ISAW activities without prior consent. Requests can be emailed a week or more in advance to isaw@nyu.edu.
The Language of the Qur'an and a Near Eastern Rip van Winkle by Christopher Warner — last modified Feb 02, 2011 04:44 PM
This paper will discuss the language of the Qur'an in the light of recent publications about the Syro-Aramaic origins of the Muslim Scripture. Parallels from Aramaic and Ancient North Arabian inscriptions will be adduced for comparison, and a number of specific Qur'anic examples will be examined, especially the case of a man whom God puts to sleep and revives a century later, which leads on to speculation about the inspiration for this figure in Near Eastern literature. Please note that audio recording and photography of any kind is not permitted at ISAW activities without prior consent. Requests can be emailed a week or more in advance to isaw@nyu.edu.
Ahiqar the seal-bearer of Sennacherib: Aramaic folk hero or patriarch manqué ? by Administrator — last modified Feb 09, 2011 10:33 AM
The tale of Ahiqar, the faithful seal-bearer of the Assyrian king Sennacherib who was betrayed by his nephew and successor Nadin, has survived in numerous Aramaic versions including an Imperial Aramaic text of the fifth century BCE, Late Antique Syriac renderings, and several present day Neo-Aramaic versions. Because of his mention in the book of Tobit, the tale and proverbs of Ahiqar have often been treated by modern scholars as part of the biblical apocrypha and pseudepigrapha. In this paper it will be argued that a closer examination of the literary and material evidence suggests that his fame, like that of the English folk hero Robin Hood, was a consequence of oral rather than literary transmission, and in a popular context divorced from the influence of religious authorities. Indeed, ordinary Syrian Christians preserved the tale of Ahiqar and his proverbs despite the disapproval of the clergy who regarded them as vestiges of a pagan past. The possible reasons for this tenacious preservation of an ancient tale will be explored. Please note that audio recording and photography of any kind is not permitted at ISAW activities without prior consent. Requests can be emailed a week or more in advance to isaw@nyu.edu.

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Downloadable documents to accompany events.
ATS/ISAW Borders Program by Kathryn Lawson — last modified Mar 19, 2014 11:32 AM

On the Waterfront at Giza: Workers’ Town and Pyramid Port – Latest Discoveries


Archaeological Institute of America Lecture




Mark Lehner (Director, Giza Plateau Mapping Project)


Monday, October 20 2014 18:30:00 PM

Monday, October 20 2014 19:30:00 PM

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The Lure of Gold and Iron: China and the Steppe in the First Millennium BC


Eighth Annual Leon Levy Lecture Sponsored by The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation

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Chariot fitting from a Xiongnu tomb, 2nd -1st century BC in Mongolia. Photo courtesy of Jessica Rawson.

While ancient Chinese ritual implements were made of bronze and jade, the peoples of the steppe favoured gold and iron, most especially from 700 BC. The talk will discuss cultural boundaries between the Chinese and their steppe neighbours. Major archaeological discoveries at Majiayuan in Gansu province, where large tombs have been excavated, have enabled a reassessment of the ways in which these two groups interacted; there the occupants, outsiders with links to the steppe, were decked in gold, silver and beads; they carried iron weapons and were accompanied into the afterlife by chariots and horse and cattle heads. Such groups introduced gold and iron to the Chinese of the Central Plains, who took over these materials, but used them in new ways. The Chinese did not favour solid gold, but gilded their bronze vessels and luxurious bronze chariot parts; iron they cast, rather than working it cold, as their neighbours did. This major technological innovation, used for tools in particular, encouraged the opening up of new lands for agriculture. As they had before, over many centuries, the Chinese and their northern neighbours remained distinct and separate.

Seating is limited, registration required to isaw@nyu.edu


Jessica Rawson (University of Oxford)

Jessica Rawson is Professor of Chinese Art and Archaeology in the Oxford Centre for Asian Archaeology Art and Culture in the School of Archaeology, University of Oxford. She graduated from Cambridge University in History and from London University in Chinese Language and Literature. She became Deputy Keeper of the Department of Oriental Antiquities in 1976 and Keeper of the Department in 1987. Prior to her current position, she was Warden of Merton College, Oxford University 1994-2010. Profesor Rawson was appointed a Fellow of the British Academy in 1990 and elected a member the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2012. She is an Advisor to the Centre of Ancient Civilisations, Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Science. Her current work concerns major changes in Chinese material culture as a consequences of interactions with Siberia and Inner Asia in the Zhou, Qin and Han period (1000BC – AD200) and she has also written extensively on Tang dynasty (AD 618 – 906) silver and ceramics, and especially on Chinese ornament and design. She currently holds a five year (2011-2016) Leverhulme Trust grant on China and Inner Asia, 1000-200 BC: Interactions that Changed China.

Thursday, November 06 2014 18:00:00 PM

Thursday, November 06 2014 19:00:00 PM

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Recent Advances in Research on Iranian and Central Asian Metalware. A Few Examples - Iranian Silver Plates from Sasanian and Post-Sasanian Iran





Decisive advances in the study of vessels from this period were made in the 1980’s, mainly through masterly books by Prudence Harper (Silver vessels from the Sasanian period : The royal imagery, 1981) and Boris Marshak (Silberschätze des Orients, 1986). While the chronology and typology of the mass of vessels bearing royal images was firmly established, the few « mythological » scenes remained elusive, with no precise correspondences in the transmitted Zoroastrian literature. Some new avenues of interpretation have been explored since, partly thanks to comparisons with wall paintings from Central Asia. Two pieces from the Hermitage Museum will be discussed more in detail: the late Sasanian plate from Bolshaya Anikovskaya (showing a girl abducted by a giant bird) and the post-Sasanian one from Klimova (showing a monumental clock with the Moon god and associated figures).

 

NOTICE: Admission to the ISAW Lecture Hall closes 10 minutes after the scheduled start time.

Registration required to isaw@nyu.edu.


Frantz Grenet (Collège de France)


Monday, November 10 2014 17:00:00 PM

Monday, November 10 2014 18:30:00 PM

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Recent Advances in Research on Iranian and Central Asian Metalware. A Few Examples - The 'Soltikov' Plate from Tukharistan





The vessel with the most elaborate Zoroastrian imagery known so far is the "Soltikov" plate kept at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. Developing partial interpretations once proposed by Harper and Marshak, it can be analyzed as an allegorical depiction of the seven main Zoroastrian festivals, their association with the seasons corresponding to the state of the Zoroastrian calendar in the second half of the 7th century. It bears witness to the existence of Zoroastrian courts in Tukharistan (ancient Bactria) during the period of the Arab conquest.

 

NOTICE: Admission to the ISAW Lecture Hall closes 10 minutes after the scheduled start time.


Registration required to isaw@nyu.edu.


Frantz Grenet (Collège de France)


Tuesday, November 11 2014 17:00:00 PM

Tuesday, November 11 2014 18:30:00 PM

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Weights and Trade Relations between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley


Guest Lecture



While it is seems "evident that the “step” in the pace of culture change in the Greater Indus Valley is coincident with the beginnings of Mesopotamian trade with Meluhha, and the general growth of maritime trade in the Gulf” (Possehl 1996: 187), the role of weights in this process has so far not been studied in great detail. Where – in Mesopotamia, in the Indus and in between – did weights materialize for the first time? At what sites and in which contexts were they used? Was the dissemination related to other innovations? What kinds of weights were used? What does the appearance of apparent foreign-type weights in the Indus Valley or Mesopotamia mean? What implications have the mass-units? Such and similar research questions will be addressed during the presentation. The discussion shall contribute to a better understanding of the intensity of the inter-regional integration emerging both east and west of Mesopotamia during the third millennium BC.

NOTICE: Admission to the ISAW Lecture Hall closes 10 minutes after the scheduled start time.


Lorenz Rahmstorf (University of Copenhagen)


Monday, November 17 2014 18:00:00 PM

Monday, November 17 2014 19:00:00 PM

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Forecasting Fate in Early China


Visiting Research Scholar Lecture



NOTICE: Admission to the ISAW Lecture Hall closes 10 minutes after the scheduled start time.


Ethan Harkness (NYU Gallatin and ISAW)


Tuesday, December 02 2014 18:00:00 PM

Tuesday, December 02 2014 19:00:00 PM

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Life in a Multicultural Society: The Jewish Community of Elephantine in Egypt under Persian Rule

Part of the Fall Exhibition Lecture Series

Event details

When

Oct 16, 2014
from 06:00 PM to 07:00 PM

Where

ISAW Lecture Hall

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Contact Phone

212-992-7818

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J.H.F. Dijkstra, University of Ottawa

The several dozens of Aramaic papyri from Elephantine provide us with a fascinating glimpse into the daily lives of a Jewish military colony living in Egypt under Persian rule in the fifth century BCE, the time of the biblical book of Ezra, making it into the earliest Jewish community for which we have such detailed information. In this talk, we will learn what the papyri tell us about these Jews and to what extent they were integrated into the multicultural society that they lived in.

Portraits of the Ptolemies: Greek Kings as Egyptian Pharaohs

Paul E. Stanwick, Independent Scholar

Event details

When

Oct 30, 2014
from 06:00 PM to 07:00 PM

Where

ISAW Lecture Hall

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Contact Phone

212-992-7818

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The History of the Ptolemaic Collection at the Brooklyn Museum

Edward Bleiberg, Brooklyn Museum

Event details

When

Dec 04, 2014
from 06:00 PM to 07:00 PM

Where

ISAW Lecture Hall

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Contact Phone

212.992.7818

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current exhibition
Gold, Minted in Alexandria. 221-205 BCE. Gift of Martin A. Ryerson. Courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Octadrachm. Obverse: Bust of Ptolemy III.
Gold, Minted in Alexandria. 221-205 BCE. Gift of Martin A. Ryerson. Courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago.