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Joint PEF/CBRL/SAS lecture: Cosmology and commerce in the Ancient Near East

6pm, Thursday 13th January 2011

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

A Lecture by David Wengrow, Reader in Comparative Archaeology, Institute  of Archaeology, University College London

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

Followed by wine

The 'Two Dogs' Palette, Ashmolean MuseumAbstract

It was through contact with their gods that the ancient societies of the Middle East expressed their uniqueness, their distinct attachments to land, origins, and place. Yet in the temples of Mesopotamia and Egypt, the earthly bodies of the gods were ritually manufactured, nourished, and cared for in similar ways, using similar materials that could not be found locally in either area. In seeking to understand the roots of cultural difference—the distinctive ‘forms’ of Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilization—we are therefore drawn into a world of mixtures and borrowings, in which the neighbouring regions of Arabia and the Levant played pivotal roles. Dr. Wengrow's lecture will explore the cultural forces that bound together the Bronze Age societies of the Near East, and how those connections force us to rethink the nature and evolution of 'early civilizations'. His talk will be based upon arguments presented in his new book: What Makes Civilization? The Ancient Near East and the Future of the West (Oxford University Press, 2010), copies of which will be on sale at the venue.

Above image: The 'Two Dogs' Palette, Hierakonpolis, Egypt c.3100 BC. Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford.

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