Two seated statues, each depicting a person with a long robe carrying a bowl.

Statues of the ancestors from M. Novak and P. Pfälzner, “Ausgrabungen im bronzezeitlichen Palast von Tall Mišrife-Qatna 2002,” MDOG 135 (2003), 157.

Archaeology and Cultural Memory:

The Social Construction of Death and the Hypogeum at Qatna

Beate Pongratz-Leisten


This lecture will take place online; a Zoom link will be provided via email to registered participants.

Registration is required at THIS LINK.

The sensational finds of an intact royal hypogeum below the palace of Qatna / modern Tell Misherifeh northeast of Homs in Syria have been discussed within the framework of the Rites of Passage as developed by the French folklorist and ethnographer Arnold. This talk will discuss the archaeological evidence from a religious-historical and anthropological perspective introducing the audience into the social construction of death and the afterlife. It will suggest a new interpretation and discuss the importance of the ancestor cult for the living.

Beate Pongratz-Leisten is Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Studies at ISAW. She was trained as a translator and interpreter of French and Spanish at the École Supérieure d'Interprètes et de Traducteurs, Paris, and the University of Mainz. In 1983 she embarked on a second career in ancient Near Eastern Studies, Egyptology, and Religious Studies at Tübingen University and Harvard University. She received her doctorate and habilitation from Tübingen University. Before joining the faculty of ISAW she taught at Tübingen University and Freiburg University in Germany, as well as at PrincetonYale, the University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton Theological Seminary.

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