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Tenth Annual Leon Levy Lecture: A People Without a Name or, Who Were the Hittites?
Theo van den Hout
Whereas the civilizations of the Assyrians and Babylonians in Mesopotamia and that of Egypt never faded from memory, knowledge of the Hittites was almost fully erased after the collapse of their kingdom around 1200 BC. In the now one-hundred-year-old resurrection of Hittite culture and society that followed the decipherment of the Hittite language in 1915, they were largely cast in the image of Mesopotamian civilization, especially where Hittite sources remain less eloquent or even silent. But is this always justified? Are we at liberty to assume entire text genres and social systems just because others had them? What would Hittite society look like without them?
Exhibition Lecture: Ancient Sundials
Art, Technology, and Culture
Nearly six hundred sundials are preserved from ancient Greek and Roman times. This richly illustrated lecture will explore the styles, uses, and significance of ancient sundials and their relevance historically and in context to our modern understanding of time.
Fruits of the Silk Road
The Spread of Agriculture through Central Asia
The Silk Road was the largest commerce network of the ancient world; it linked the disparate ends of the vast Eurasian supercontinent and in doing so connected the imperial centers of East and Southwest Asia. While organized trade, including military outposts and government taxation, along the Silk Road dates back to the Han dynasty in the second century B.C., the exchange of goods, ideas, cultural practice, and genes, through the thousands of kilometers of desert and mountainous expanses comprising this region dates back to the third millennium B.C. This flow of cultural traits through Central Asia during the past four and a half millennia was a major driving force in the development of cultures across the Old World and shaped cuisines around the globe.
Exhibition Lecture: Weeks, Months, and Years in Greek and Roman Calendars
This talk looks at how time was structured in Greek and Roman antiquity. How and why was the year divided into just this many units and not more or less? Where did the seven-day week come from? How was the division of the year into weeks, days, and months related to religious and political cycles and duties?
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.
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