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Ancient South Arabia and the Near East

6pm, Thursday 21st January 2010

Stevenson Lecture Theatre, Clore Education Centre, The British Museum,  London WC1

A lecture by Alexandra Porter, Middle East Department, British Museum

Jointly with the Society for Arabian Studies and Council for British Research in the Levant

Followed by wine

Lecture abstract

South Arabia does not even feature on many maps of the ancient Near East. Scholars have not recognised the significance of South Arabia in the ancient Near East due a limited knowledge of this area. However, in recent decades there have been astonishing developments in the understanding of the region, as a result of archaeological excavations and the enormous quantity of written sources that have been discovered. This information demonstrates that South Arabia had a strong cultural identity characterised by unique and original features but was at the same time part of the broader historical and cultural system of the ancient Near East. In this lecture we will outline the history of interaction between the Fertile Crescent and South Arabia. We will examine the models of migration vs indigenous development for the origins of the ancient South Arabian civilisation, the role of the incense trade in the rise of the South Arabian kingdoms, and the various influences reflected in ancient South Arabian art.

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