Annual Leon Levy Lectures

photograph of Norman L. Peck, Shelby White, Roger S. Bagnall, and Piotr Michalowski in the Oak Library

Norman L. Peck, Shelby White, Roger S. Bagnall, and Piotr Michalowski. ©NYU Photo Bureau: Sorel

The Annual Leon Levy Lecture is held in honor of Leon Levy and his passion for expanding knowledge, the power of ideas, and a just and equitable society. This broad humanism also defined his philanthropy. During his early life, Leon Levy’s close relationship to his father, the economic analyst Jerome Levy, was a major influence on his career and his values. As Leon remembered, “Dad did not view economics as a way to make money but as a way to improve society.” This was a fundamental belief Leon shared. Leon spent his professional life on Wall Street, starting as a research analyst right out of the U.S. Army, and within three years he was the youngest partner of Oppenheimer & Co. From the beginning of his career he was a generous patron of the arts and benefactor of a wide range of causes and institutions; philanthropy was not something he turned to once he made money. Leon was guided by his boundless curiosity, optimism, and desire to enable individuals to reach their full potential. “I give funds with few strings attached. I believe that liberal arts education is both important and imperiled, the study of arts, ideas, history, and politics prepares students to enjoy life as well as contribute to society.”

The Leon Levy Lectures are supported by the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation and the Leon Levy Foundation.

Peter Machinist, Hancock Research Professor of Hebrew and Other Oriental Languages at Harvard University, will deliver the Thirteenth Annual Leon Levy Lecture on November 14, 2019: Assyria and the Hebrew Bible: A Reassessment.
Details will be announced on the ISAW Events page.

The following lectures have been delivered in this series:

The Horizons of Antiquity

photo of Glen Bowersock at podiumThe First Annual Leon Levy Lecture (2007) was given by G.W. Bowersock, Professor Emeritus of Ancient History, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.

Image: ISAW

The History of the Sahara in Antiquity: Mirage or Scientific Project?

photo of Mario Liverani at podiumThe Second Annual Leon Levy Lecture (2008) was given by Mario Liverani, Professor Emeritus of Ancient Near East History, University of Rome La Sapienza.

Image: ©NYU Photo Bureau: Furlong

The Historian in the Future of the Ancient World: A View from Central Eurasia

photo of Nicola di CosmoThe Third Annual Leon Levy Lecture (2009) was given by Nicola di Cosmo, Luce Foundation Professor in East Asian Studies, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.

Image: ©Institute for Advanced Study

The Cultural Dynamism of Astral Science in the Hellenistic Age

photo of Francesca RochbergThe Fourth Annual Leon Levy Lecture (2010) was given by Francesca Rochberg, Catherine and William L. Magistretti Distinguished Professor of Near Eastern Studies, University of California, Berkeley.

Image: ©UC Regents

A Greek Statuary Complex at the Sarapieion of Memphis and the Early Ptolemaic Kings

photo of Marianne Bergmann at podium The Fifth Annual Leon Levy Lecture (2011) was given by Marianne Bergmann, Director Emeritus, Archaeologisches Institut, Universitaet Goettingen.

Image: ISAW

Gods, Humans, and Rulers: Religion and Empire in Early China

photo of Michael Puett at podiumThe Sixth Annual Leon Levy Lecture (2012) was given by Michael Puett, Walter C. Klein Professor of Chinese History, Harvard University.

Image: ISAW

Historical Perspectives on Sumerian Vistas

photo of Piotr Michalowski at podiumThe Seventh Annual Leon Levy Lecture (2013) was given by Piotr Michalowski, George G. Cameron Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Image: ©NYU Photo Bureau: Sorel

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

photo of Jessica RawsonThe Eighth Annual Leon Levy Lecture (2014) was given by Jessica Rawson, Professor of Chinese Art and Archaeology, Institute of Archaeology, University of Oxford.

Image: ©NYU Photo Bureau: Slezak

Scythian Elite Burial Mounds in the Eurasian Steppes

photo of Hermann Parzinger at podiumThe Ninth Annual Leon Levy Lecture (2015) was given by Hermann Parzinger, President of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz.

Image: ©NYU Photo Bureau: Pollard

A People Without a Name or, Who Were the Hittites?

photo of Theo van den Hout at podiumThe Tenth Annual Leon Levy Lecture (2016) was given by Theo van den Hout, Arthur and Joann Rasmussen Professor of Hittite and Anatolian Languages, The University of Chicago. Video of this lecture is available on the corresponding event page.

Image: ©NYU Photo Bureau: Kahn

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

photo of Mary BeardThe Eleventh Annual Leon Levy Lecture (2017) was given by Mary Beard, Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge.

Image: ©University of Cambridge

Urbanism and the History of Architectural Restlessness

portrait image of Monica L. SmithThe Twelfth Annual Leon Levy Lecture (2018) was given by Monica L. Smith, Professor in the Department of Anthropology and in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at the University of California, Los Angeles.