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The Epic of Gilgamesh, Lecture by Andrew George
 
01:28:46
Andrew George, Professor of Babylonian, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London The Epic of Gilgamesh is a 4,000-year-old Mesopotamian poem about a hero who embarks on an arduous quest to find the secret of immortality. Preserved on clay tablets in cuneiform script, it is generally considered to be the earliest great work of literature to survive from the ancient world. In this illustrated lecture, Andrew George, author of a prize-winning translation of the Epic of Gilgamesh, explores four themes related to this Babylonian masterpiece: the archaeology of the poem’s recovery, the reconstruction of its text, the story it tells, and its messages about life and death. Presented in collaboration with the Departments of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations and Comparative Literature, with the support of the Provostial Fund for the Arts and Humanities, Harvard University
Views: 533126 Harvard Semitic Museum
World's Earliest Alphabet: Blake and Lake Expedition
 
09:32
An introduction to the 1930 Harvard Expedition of Kirsopp Lake and Robert Blake to Serabit el Khadim, a remote site in the Sinai Desert of Egypt. The difficult adventure resulted in the recovery of several examples of an early alphabetic script, which came to be known as Proto-Sinaitic. The Semitic script of Proto-Sinaitic is now believed to be a developmental step between Egyptian and Phoenician, and is extremely important for our understanding of the modern alphabet. http://www.semiticmuseum.fas.harvard.edu Narrated by Assistant Curator Adam J. Aja with contributions from Museum Coordinator Timothy Letteney, former Intern Hannah Grischuk, and former Collection Photographer Meredith Keffer.
A digital reconstruction of the Karnak Temple in Egypt
 
01:46
A 3D digital reconstruction of the Karnak Temple, highlighting the original location of the Harvard Semitic Museum’s doorjamb fragments
Views: 13767 Harvard Semitic Museum
The Lost Egyptian Throne of Queen Hetepheres (2016)
 
04:46
An interdisciplinary collaboration at Harvard University has created a full-scale reproduction of an ancient Egyptian throne belonging to Queen Hetepheres (about 2550 BC). The chair’s materials are based on the ancient original: cedar, bright blue faience tiles, gold foil, gesso, cordage seating, and copper. This experiment in archaeological visualization is a triumph of reconstruction because the only guidance came from thousands of tiny, jumbled fragments and 90-year old expedition records. The reproduction chair is the centerpiece of the new exhibit, Recreating the Throne of Egyptian Queen Hetepheres. In 1925, the Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition discovered a small, unfinished chamber almost 100 feet underground at the famous site of Giza. It contained the deteriorated burial equipment, sarcophagus, and other objects belonging to Queen Hetepheres, mother of King Khufu, the pharaoh who built the Great Pyramid nearby. In the 1930s, conservators restored and reconstructed some of the furniture, but until today, the queen’s elaborate chair existed only on paper. The Giza Project team created a 3D digital model of the tomb and its contents, and then used a computer-controlled, five-axis milling machine, plus lots of human labor, to fabricate the chair. The goal of this new museum display object and research/teaching tool was to reconstruct the chair’s iconography and to document the ancient workflow that the Egyptians used to construct such a masterpiece from the Pyramid Age. The Hetepheres chair project was supported by generous grants from Harvard’s Arts and Humanities Fund, the Anne and Jim Rothenberg Fund, and by contributions in equipment, services, and expertise from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, ShopBot Tools, Inc., Epner Technology, the Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT, Dassault Systèmes, and the Ceramics Program of the Office for the Arts at Harvard.
Egypt’s Old Kingdom: The Latest Discoveries at Abusir South
 
01:02:22
Miroslav Bárta, Professor, Czech Institute of Egyptology Abusir, the “Place of Osiris,” is a necropolis (burial site) near the Old Kingdom’s city of Memphis, known for its pyramids and sun temples. In this lecture, Miroslav Bárta will provide a comprehensive look at the latest archaeological discoveries at Abusir, dating from different periods of the Old Kingdom (2700–2200 BCE). These individual discoveries shed new light on general processes that led to the rise and eventual decline of the Old Kingdom, the first territorial state in human history. Recorded 11/14/2017
Views: 20278 Harvard Semitic Museum
Cuneiform Tablet Restoration
 
03:20
Narrated by Assistant Curator, Dr. Adam Aja, this video explores The Semitic Museum's Cuneiform Tablet Restoration Project. These tablets were excavated from Nuzi (modern day Iraq). The Semitic Museum began this restoration project in 1999. http://www.semiticmuseum.fas.harvard.edu/
Fabricating the Giza Dream Stela of Thutmose IV in both Physical and Augmented Reality
 
21:13
Harvard Semitic Museum Director Peter Der Manuelian gave a talk, “Fabricating the Giza Dream Stela of Thutmose IV in both Physical and Augmented Reality,” at American Research Center in Egypt's 2018 Annual Conference.
Engaging Roman Glass
 
05:42
Engaging Roman Glass invites the viewer to explore early glass blowing techniques and study marvelous examples of Roman artisanship from the 1st century CE through the 5th century CE. All featured artifacts are from the Semitic Museum's collection.
Magic and Demonology in Ancient Egypt
 
01:03:56
Public Lecture by Rita Lucarelli, Associate Professor of Egyptology, Department of Near Eastern Studies; Faculty Curator of Egyptology, Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley Ancient Egyptian texts and objects associated with funerary rituals often include references to “magic” and “demons.” Rita Lucarelli will look at how these concepts were defined and used in ancient Egypt, with a special focus on the roles that demons played in magical practices and spells. Through an examination of textual and material sources produced from the early Pharaonic to the Greco-Roman periods, she will also address how Egyptian beliefs about demons compare with those of other ancient cultures.
Views: 31639 Harvard Semitic Museum
New Discoveries at Wadi al-Jarf
 
01:12:22
Located along the Egyptian coast of the Red Sea, Wadi al-Jarf is considered the oldest known harbor in the world. This exceptional 4,600-year-old site dates to the beginning of the Fourth Dynasty, the “golden age” of ancient Egypt. Gregory Marouard will discuss recent archaeological excavations at Wadi al-Jarf, including the discovery of hundreds of papyrus fragments that provide important details about the construction of the Great Pyramid at Giza and insights into the complex organization and well-structured logistics of royal Egyptian projects. Recorded 2/12/18
Views: 13629 Harvard Semitic Museum
Analyzing Egyptian Pyramids in the Digital Age
 
55:51
Free Public Lecture Yukinori Kawae, Research Fellow, Research Center for Cultural Heritage and Text, Graduate School of Letters, Nagoya University, Japan Current studies of pyramids in the Memphis area of ancient Egypt are being conducted from multiple perspectives, and archaeological data about them is now available from both texts and excavations. The survey data of the pyramids, however, has rarely been updated. Yukinori Kawae provided historical insights on the development of pyramid construction methods and discussed how a Japanese consortium is using 3D documentation to update survey data in collaboration with the Japanese production company, TV MAN UNION, using drones and Global Navigation Satellite System equipment. This public lecture was recorded April 5, 2018 by Harvard Semitic Museum, one of the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture.
Views: 24969 Harvard Semitic Museum
Creating a King for Eternity
 
01:02:38
Florence D. Friedman, Visiting Scholar, Department of Egyptology and Assyriology, Brown University The smallest of the three Giza pyramids was built for Egypt’s Fourth Dynasty ruler, King Menkaure. In 1908 and 1910, Harvard University-Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition excavators found a series of statues in the king’s valley temple. These masterpieces show Menkaure in the company of various gods and mortals. Florence Friedman will speak about how these statues established Menkaure as not only eternal ruler of Egypt, but also of the entire cosmos.
Ancient Egypt in Contemporary Africa: New Excavations at the Island Fortress of Uronarti
 
49:49
Laurel Bestock, Associate Professor of Archaeology and the Ancient World, Egyptology and Assyriology, and the History of Art and Architecture, Brown University Ancient Egyptian kings conquered Lower Nubia—today northern Sudan—nearly 4,000 years ago, defending it with a string of monumental fortresses along the Nile River. Previously thought lost, when the construction of the Aswan High Dam flooded the area, one fortress, known as Uronarti, was recently rediscovered and is being excavated for the first time since George Reisner’s Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition worked there in the early twentieth century. Laurel Bestock will highlight recent archaeological finds at the site and discuss the intercultural encounters and lifestyles in this Egyptian colonial outpost. Recorded: March 19, 2018
Ancient Egyptian Obsession
 
52:25
Egyptologist Bob Brier discusses why Egyptian history and culture continue to fascinate so many people. His chronicle of "Egyptomania" covers a surprisingly wide swath, from Napoleon's invasion of Egypt and the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb, to Hollywood films, novels, and dime-store kitsch.
Inside the Tombs of Saqqara: The Ancient Egyptian Burial Site Revealed
 
01:03:17
Ramadan B. Hussein, Director, Saqqara Saite Tombs Project, Institute for Ancient Near Eastern Studies (IANES), University of Tübingen, Germany The pyramids and tombs of Saqqara served as the cemetery for the ancient Egyptian capital, Memphis. Recent excavations south of the pyramid of King Unas have revealed a significant embalming workshop containing a unique set of measuring cups and bowls. These are inscribed with the names of oils and substances used in mummification. Ramadan Hussein will talk about this discovery and its significance to understanding ancient Egyptian funerary rituals. Recorded 9/28/17
Giza Is My Classroom
 
42:38
Experiments in Virtual Reality, Streaming, and 3D Scanning (A Digital Futures Discovery Series Event) Peter Der Manuelian, Philip J. King Professor of Egyptology and Director of the Harvard Semitic Museum, Harvard University (Recorded Feb. 26, 2019)
Discovering the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti's Artist: The Tomb of Thutmose at Saqqara
 
01:06:52
In December 1912, German excavators found the famous painted bust of Queen Nefertiti in the workshop of an ancient artist named Thutmose. Until now, this iconic masterpiece was only dubiously linked to him. The recent discovery of Thutmose's tomb at Saqqara, however, has changed this thinking. Alain Zivie reveals why Thutmose may be a true "Egyptian Michelangelo."
Divine Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt
 
46:36
Salima Ikram, Visiting Professor, Yale University; Distinguished University Professor, Department of Sociology, Egyptology and Anthropology, The American University in Cairo The relationship between humans and animals is complex, with mutual dependencies that are practical, psychological, and even theological. Ancient Egyptian animal mummies are a particular manifestation of this web of interrelations. Salima Ikram discussed different types of Egyptian animal mummies and explained how and why they were made, the theological and aesthetic decisions that went into their “packaging,” and what each type meant to the ancient Egyptians. She also illustrated how animal mummies shape perceptions of ancient Egypt and influence contemporary thought and art. Recorded Oct. 12, 2017.
Inventorying Shechem
 
03:25
Volunteers at the Semitic Museum inventory a very special collection from Shechem.
Memories of the Kings and Queens of Kush: Archaeology and Heritage at El Kurru
 
46:23
Geoff Emberling, Research Scientist, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology; Lecturer, Department of Near Eastern Studies, University of Michigan Ancient Nubia was one of Africa’s earliest centers of political authority, wealth, and military power. After the Nubian kings and queens of Kush rose to power around 800 BCE, they controlled a vast empire along the Middle Nile (now Northern Sudan) and conquered Egypt to rule as its Twenty-fifth Dynasty. The kingdom’s political center, known as El Kurru, was first excavated by George Reisner in 1918–1919 on behalf of the Harvard University-Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition. Geoff Emberling will look at recent discoveries at the site and show how they inform local and international ideas about history and heritage. Free and open to the public.
W. E. B. Du Bois, Education, and Archaeology in Egypt
 
51:09
Vanessa Davies, Visiting Scholar Researcher, Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley Recently discovered correspondence from the early twentieth century has shed light on a disagreement between W. E. B. Du Bois and W. M. F. Petrie, the developer of Egyptian archaeology as a scientific discipline. Their letters focused on the education of people of African descent in America and of Egyptians in Egypt and highlighted the widely divergent views and educational backgrounds of the two men. Vanessa Davies will discuss how issues raised in the Du Bois/Petrie correspondence relate to contemporary concerns about the purpose of education in the twenty-first century. Presented by Harvard Semitic Museum with support from the Marcella Tilles Memorial Fund. Recorded 3/28/17
The Lost Egyptian Throne of Queen Hetepheres
 
00:41
An interdisciplinary collaboration at Harvard University has created a full-scale reproduction of an ancient Egyptian throne belonging to Queen Hetepheres (about 2550 BC). The chair’s materials are based on the ancient original: cedar, bright blue faience tiles, gold foil, gesso, cordage seating, and copper. This experiment in archaeological visualization is a triumph of reconstruction because the only guidance came from thousands of tiny, jumbled fragments and 90-year old expedition records. The reproduction chair is the centerpiece of the new exhibit, Recreating the Throne of Egyptian Queen Hetepheres. In 1925, the Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition discovered a small, unfinished chamber almost 100 feet underground at the famous site of Giza. It contained the deteriorated burial equipment, sarcophagus, and other objects belonging to Queen Hetepheres, mother of King Khufu, the pharaoh who built the Great Pyramid nearby. In the 1930s, conservators restored and reconstructed some of the furniture, but until today, the queen’s elaborate chair existed only on paper. The Giza Project team created a 3D digital model of the tomb and its contents, and then used a computer-controlled, five-axis milling machine, plus lots of human labor, to fabricate the chair. The goal of this new museum display object and research/teaching tool was to reconstruct the chair’s iconography and to document the ancient workflow that the Egyptians used to construct such a masterpiece from the Pyramid Age. The Hetepheres chair project was supported by generous grants from Harvard’s Arts and Humanities Fund, the Anne and Jim Rothenberg Fund, and by contributions in equipment, services, and expertise from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, ShopBot Tools, Inc., Epner Technology, the Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT, Dassault Systèmes, and the Ceramics Program of the Office for the Arts at Harvard.
A Short History of the Ten Commandments
 
01:05:28
The Ten Commandments of the Hebrew Bible have become a focal point in contemporary culture wars. When and how, among all the laws reportedly given on Mount Sinai, did the Decalogue become such a privileged and authoritative text? Are all of its specific dos and don'ts still valid? Drawing on biblical and nonbiblical sources, Michael Coogan, Lecturer on Old Testament/Hebrew Bible at Harvard, considers ancient and modern understandings of these iconic words, along with their observance and nonobservance, by both Jews and Christians throughout the ages.
Mystery Cults and Plagues in Egypt: Twenty Years of Excavations at the Funerary Complex of Harwa
 
53:04
Francesco Tiradritti, Assistant Professor, University “Kore” of Enna, Viale dell’Università, Italy and Director of the Italian Archaeological Mission to Luxor, Egypt Dating to the 7th century BCE, the extensive tomb complex of the grand steward Harwa is one of the largest ever built by a non-royal Egyptian. Located in ancient Thebes (modern Luxor), in the south of present-day Egypt, the site presents stylistic elements from the northern city of Memphis and decorations reminiscent of the mystery cult and resurrection rituals found at the enigmatic structure of Seti I at Abydos, known as the Osireion. Francesco Tiradritti will discuss recent discoveries in the tomb of Harwa, including the remains of ancient plague victims (3rd century CE) that St. Cyprian believed signaled the end of the world, along with two fragmentary Roman funerary portraits that shed new light on 2nd century CE Thebes. April 19, 2016
Anxieties about Race in Egyptology and Egyptomania, 1890–1960
 
52:50
Donald Reid, Professor Emeritus, Department of History, Georgia State University; Affiliate Professor, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization, University of Washington Despite ideals of scientific and scholarly objectivity, both Egyptologists and non-specialists have often projected their own racial anxieties onto ancient Egypt. Recurrent attempts to prove that the ancient Egyptians were white or black, for example, reveal more about modern societies than about ancient Egypt. Donald Reid will discuss the history of how such debates have played out among Western and modern Egyptian scholars, artists, and writers, and how interpretations of ancient Egypt are intertwined with personal values. Presented in collaboration with the Departments of Anthropology, Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology. Recorded 4/6/17
Views: 17558 Harvard Semitic Museum
Joseph Potiphar's Wife and the Jewish Colony in Egypt
 
58:08
Bernd U. Schipper presents a new take on the biblical story of Joseph. How do we explain the story’s positive image of Egypt, when the Bible usually portrays it as a place of slavery and suffering? This lecture offers a new interpretation of the popular text, with insights from papyri recovered from the site of the Jewish colony of Elephantine in southern Egypt. December 3, 2013
Collectors and Dealers: The Trade of Egyptian Antiquities
 
42:36
Lecture with Kim Ryholt, Professor of Egyptology and Director, The Papyrus Carlsberg Collection and Project, University of Copenhagen, Denmark Many of the Egyptian objects in Western museums were acquired during the heyday of the antiquities trade market in Egypt from the 1880s to 1930s. The scale of this trade was staggering, but its mechanics and networks are poorly known. Kim Ryholt will discuss his most recent research on the trade’s geography, dealers, and legal issues, as well as the role that Egyptian museums and Egyptologists played in the acquisition of objects. He will also highlight how the antiquities trade and acquisition policies have played a decisive role in dictating the research agendas of Egyptologists. Tuesday, April 21, 2015, 6:00pm
Ashkelon Object Highlights
 
00:54
Three Highlights from the July 2nd Dig at Grid 44 in Ashkelon: a blade, a comb, and a coin.
Amphoras: Cardboard Boxes of the Ancient World
 
00:54
Harvard Semitic Museum Assistant Curator, Adam Aja, examines a recently excavated vessel.
The Sun Temple of Nefertiti: Sex and Death
 
48:23
The discovery of the "lost" sun temple of Nefertiti has revealed new aspects of the Aten cult overseen by the famous Egyptian queen. Jacquelyn Williamson discusses new research that links Nefertiti's temple to funerary activities at Tell el-Amarna and to sexual aspects of regeneration.
Views: 12671 Harvard Semitic Museum
Discovery of a Lost Pharaoh
 
01:13:41
Josef Wegner discusses his recent excavation of the tomb of previously-unknown ancient Egyptian pharaoh, Woseribre Senebkay at South Abydos. This discovery by Wegner and his team from the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (Philadelphia) in cooperation with Egypt's Ministry of State for Antiquities provides the first material confirmation of a forgotten "Abydos Dynasty" (ca. 1650--1600 BCE). Its location near the newly-identified tomb of a Dynasty 13 King Sobekhotep suggests that South Abydos was the site of a significant royal necropolis from late Middle Kingdom through Second Intermediate Period times, with more new discoveries yet to come.
The Iron Age Strata of the Philistine City of Ashkelon, Israel
 
00:53
Harvard Semitic Museum Assistant Curator, Adam Aja, gives a brief overview of the massive archaeological site excavated by hand in the Philistine City of Ashkelon, Israel
Ashkelon Archaeolgy Lab
 
00:54
A peek into the archaeology lab in Ashkelon where Adam Aja uses the PXRF, the portable x-ray florescence device.
Live Excavation of a Late Bronze Age Bowl.
 
00:54
Harvard Semitic Museum Assistant Curator, Adam Aja, excavates a late bronze age bowl in Ashkelon Israel
Saying Goodbye to Lawrence Stager's Grid 38 in Ashkelon, Israel
 
00:44
With the dig season winding down, we put the finishing touches on an area that has been excavated every season since 1985. It is a bittersweet time for me, since I have spent many years digging in this grid. It is also exciting to have completely worked through the stratigraphic profile and know that we have done it well and can now move on to new areas. -Adam Aja
Ancient Israelite Dice
 
00:48
These sheep knuckle bones tell the story of the evolution of games by showing some steps in the transition from bones to modern dice. Talk about a fun find!
Standing in Ancient Crusader Sumps
 
00:51
Complex Drainage: Ashkelon changed hands several times during the period of the Crusades. Each group left their mark on the tel. In this video I investigate one of the 12th century CE drainage systems exposed in Grid 44.
Photographing Tutankhamun: How the Camera Helped Create “King Tut”
 
01:08:13
Christina Riggs, Professor of the History of Art and Archaeology, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom When Howard Carter found the sealed entrance to Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922, he secured the services of archaeological photographer Harry Burton to document the site. Over the course of ten years, Burton produced more than 3,000 glass negatives of the tomb, its contents, and the many people—including Egyptian men, women, and children—who participated in the excavation. Christina Riggs will discuss how Burton’s photography helped create “King Tut” at a pivotal time for both Egypt and archaeology, and how revisiting these images today is changing perceptions of twentieth-century archaeological research in Egypt. Lecture. Free and open to the public. Wednesday, November 7, 2018
Sweet and Spicy Libations: Wine in the Ancient Near East
 
01:08:27
Assistant Professor of Classical Studies, Brandeis University, and Joseph A. Greene, Deputy Director and Curator, Harvard Semitic Museum. In 2013, a team of archaeologists working in northern Israel unearthed the storage magazines of a Canaanite palace from 1700 BCE containing remnants of what is considered to be the oldest--and largest--ancient wine cellar in the Near East. Chemical analysis of the jars found at the site suggests the Canaanites drank a strong, sweet wine flavored with an exotic mix of honey, spices, and berries. Join archaeologist Andrew Koh and Phoenician specialist Joseph Greene as they discuss this discovery in the context of the social and cultural history of wine's emergence in the ancient Near East and the Mediterranean world.
Ancient Artifacts Excavated in Israel
 
00:54
Harvard Semitic Museum Assistant Curator, Adam Aja, displays some impressive artifacts excavated during the 2013 archaeological season in Ashkelon, Israel.
Ancient Ivory Lion Blade Handle Found in Israel
 
00:50
A carved ivory blade handle makes for a fascinating (and beautiful) find.
Philistine Pottery Decoration
 
00:39
Harvard Semitic Museum Assistant Curator, Adam Aja, shows some of the Iron Age Philistine pottery that is being written about for the excavation's forthcoming book on the Iron Age occupation on the ancient mound. Numerous scholars are contributing to the publication, which will discuss and illustrate everything from botanical remains through buildings. Dig directors Lawrence Stager and Daniel Master, along with Joshua Walton, a grid supervisor on the project and a PhD Candidate in Harvard's NELC department, are putting the finishing touches on their manuscript of the Iron Age pottery. Adam is editing his chapter on the architecture and numerous other scholars are working to finish their reports as well.
Ancient Bone Doll
 
00:45
Occasionally we find objects of great beauty that help us emotionally connect with the ancient people that lived at the site. This little bone doll was found in Grid 44 and would have been played with by a child in the later period of Ashkelon's history. It probably was dressed originally and had some hair tucked into a hole at the top
The Importance of Ancient Pottery Sherds
 
00:27
One Day's Haul: Each day of work in the field generates an enormous amount of material that must be processed for conservation and publication. The most common discovery is broken pottery (sherds) that were discarded by the ancient people. Sherds that we recover is washed by hand and laid out to dry in the sun. Each sherd, even tiny ones, will be labeled with the information of its findspot. This information includes the year excavated, major grid & square number (marking its horizontal position on the tel), the layer number of the soil (for its position relative to known architecture), and its bucket number (for its vertical position within the layer). Since pottery is known to have been used at specific times in history (for example the 1st half of the 3rd century), these sherds can than be used to date the architecture we are discovering.