Letter from the Director

As the new academic year approaches, it seems impossible not to keep asking ourselves, will we really all be "back in the building" like before the pandemic? Though the path back is turning out to be more winding than it looked a couple of months ago, ISAW's faculty, staff, and students are approaching the coming year with reserved optimism, planning for the full resumption of in-person teaching, and some level of face-to-face meetings and other academic functions from the start of the Fall semester. Through much or all of the semester our public face will remain online, a modality that has worked for us and our wider community surprisingly well, but, with all due caution, we can look forward to opening our doors again for public events and our exhibition galleries early in 2022.

Meanwhile, the articles in this installment of the ISAW Newsletter carry on the overarching message of the previous one: ISAW is not about to allow any virus to stand in the way of furthering our mission. They also provide fresh examples of the spread of ways in which we address the study of the ancient world, including the study of written records in long-perished scripts and languages, economic theory, and scientific methods applied to conservation and archaeological analysis. Visiting Associate Professor Odette Boivin explores the vicissitudes of private business in first millennium BCE southern Mesopotamia through cuneiform tablets from family archives, while Professor Robert Hoyland brings new life to the languages and cultures of ancient South Arabia. And turning to recently published work by our doctoral students, Emily Frank presents new techniques of stabilizing archaeologically recovered metallic artifacts in the context of researching the evolving approaches of the last half-century; Alireza Khounani provides scholars of the history of business and economics with data illuminating what he characterizes as an economic middle class in ancient Iran and Iraq, and Lorenzo Castellano reconstructs practices of fruit-growing in Anatolia from painstaking analysis of archaeobotanical samples. I hope you will enjoy this latest collection of our activities!