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The Ancient Near East in 50 Objects – four online talks by Professor Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones

posted on 15/12/23


Through careful study of the ‘things’ people owned, created, ate, wore and worshipped, as well as the places where they lived, this series seeks to provide deeper knowledge of the rich and varied material culture of the Near East between 3000 and 300 BCE. It is through detailed focus on objects and artefacts that we will interpret the populations, power and culture of ancient empires and peoples.

Spanning the entire ancient Near Eastern world, from the Sumerians of Mesopotamia through to the Persian empire and incorporating ancient Egypt, Israel and Palestine, Syria, the Hittites, Assyria and Babylon, the topics covered will range from the horse in ancient Egypt and the elaborate palaces of Babylon, to aspects of daily life in Ur. Each week, we will delve into an astonishing array of mysterious and beautiful objects and fragments to examine what they can tell us about the social life and structure of the societies they represent.

Along the way our investigation is supported by theories of material culture, as we enrich our understanding of the ways empires worked and the ideas, motivations and beliefs that connected peoples across vast geographic expanses.

They take place every Thursday from 1–22 February at 4.30pm and, including Q&A, will probably last just under an hour. They are available for viewing for eight weeks after the last episode is streamed (18th April 2024).

Register for the webinar series for £55

The talks

1. Beginnings (1st February 2024)

This talk focuses on the early origins of civilisation in Mesopotamia and Egypt and explores the lives of shepherds, priests, and monarchs through the material evidence they left behind.

2. Bronze Age Society (8th February 2024)

Throughout the Near East, cultures were swiftly developing new skills and technologies while trade was opening new vistas and expanding horizons. This lecture looks at the object world of Egypt, the Levant, Anatolia and Mesopotamia in this international age.

3. The Age of Empires (15th February 2024)

In the early Iron Age a series of superpowers with imperial ambitions left their mark on the Near East. We consider the material remains of the Egyptian New Kingdom and Assyria and their many dominions.

4. High Empire (22nd February 2024)

Under Babylon and then Persia the ancient Near East saw its last flurry of brilliance. This exceptional period in history has left a rich legacy of material culture that will form the focus of our final talk. 

Whip Handle in the Shape of a Horse (The Met)

The speaker

Professor Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones

Chair of Ancient History and Persian Studies at the University of Cardiff and specialist in the history and culture of Iran, the ancient Near East and Greece. He has published widely on Iran, Greece and the history and cultures of the ancient world. Books include Creating a Hellenistic World, King and Court in Ancient Persia, The Culture of Animals in the Ancient World, The Hellenistic Court, Designs on the Past: How Hollywood Created the Ancient World and, in 2022, Persians: the Age of the Great Kings. His latest publication is Ancient Persia and the Book of Esther, Achaemenid Court Culture in the Hebrew Bible and his next publication is about the forgotten queens of Egypt. He has contributed to TV documentaries and BBC radio programmes and is a regular reviewer for The Times and Times Higher Education.

Register for the webinar series for £55

Frequently asked questions

What methods of payment do you accept?

An electronic invoice will be sent to your e-mail address 1–3 working days after you have completed our registration form. Payment can be made online using AMEX, Apple Pay, Google Pay, MasterCard or Visa.

How do I purchase the webinar series as a gift?

Please contact us specifying how many subscriptions you would like and who they are for (we require their full name and e-mail address). We will invoice you directly, and after we have received your payment we will release the webinar joining instructions to your friend(s) or family member(s).

Can I purchase a single episode?

No, unfortunately not. The series must be purchased in full.

How do I join the webinar?

An e-mail confirmation will be sent to you after you have paid for your subscription, which includes your unique link for joining the webinar. Reminder e-mails will be sent to you one day and one hour before each event. We recommend that you download the Zoom software in advance of the first webinar.

Can I watch the live broadcast(s) on more than one device?

Only one device can be connected to the live broadcast(s) at any one time. If you wish to purchase a second subscription, please contact us.

What happens if I am unable to attend the live broadcast(s)? 

A recording will be uploaded to a dedicated webpage approximately two hours after the live broadcast. For copyright reasons, these recordings cannot be made available indefinitely; access is granted for eight weeks after the final live broadcast of the series.

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