Babylon@Brown: Past, Present and Future in the Study of the Ancient Near East
Who cares about Babylon? Why does Nineveh matter? Is there anything left to be done in ancient Uruk? Mesopotamia is often lauded as a cradle of civilization, and indeed the name alone conjures images of men with picks working amid sand-blown ruins, but what exactly is happening today in the study of the ancient Near East? How can one continue to conduct research in a region that is fraught with violence? Most importantly, why should anyone devote their lives to examining the scant traces of the peoples who once inhabited the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates? We aim to pose these and similar questions to six eminent scholars and to make Brown University a place for debate and reflection about the past, present and future of Near Eastern studies. Our colloquium, which will span the 2013-2014 academic year, will include archaeologists, historians of art and science, and philologists. Each scholar will offer a general public lecture examining their own current work, and also participate in an open seminar, during which organizers will engage in discussion with the invited speakers about how they got involved in the study of the ancient Near East, what has changed in their fields since they began working, and what they think are urgent desiderata in their specific subspecialties. These lectures will take place in tandem with a year-long reading and discussion group aimed specifically at the graduate students in a multitude of departments.