Wednesday, November 20, 2013

From Life to Death in Ancient Canaan and Israel - Speaker, Dr. Jack Green,

From Life to Death in Ancient Canaan and Israel

According to CAS December Speaker, Dr. Jack Green,
Death may be the great leveler and there have been both
elaborate and simple ways to assist the dead in their
transition to their next phase of existence

Cogito ergo sum, I think, therefore I am, recorded RenĂ© Descartes in the 1644 edition of Principia Philosophiae, but it’s quite unlikely that we can ever know when consciousness evolved. Professor Lewis-Williams, The Mind in the Cave: Consciousness and the Origins of Art,  traced back the unique aspect of human consciousness to the Paleolithic and archeologists, like the December CAS speaker Dr. Jack Green continue their efforts to understand what it is or means to be human.

According to Dr. Jack Green, Death may be the great leveler, yet throughout human history, there have been both elaborate and simple ways to assist the dead in their transition to their next phase of existence, as well as honor and commemorate them through rituals, feasts, and setting up of monuments. His lecture will focus on the burial customs of the second and first millennia BCE within the area covering modern-day Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Territories.  In this region that witnessed the emergence of three world religions, the study of its changing mortuary customs can provide fascinating insights into attitudes to life, death, the body, and afterlife beliefs over deep time.

Early Iron Age burial 1050 – 900 BCE
It is in this region that we explore changes and continuities from the start of the Middle Bronze Age (ca. 2000 BC) to the end of the Iron Age II (ca. 586 BC), showing how burial customs, their contents, and tomb structures differed greatly depending on geographical region, urban vs. rural or pastoral lifestyles, and connections with    neighboring regions, including Egypt, Cyprus, and Syria-Mesopotamia. From rock-cut tombs, to ceramic coffins and pit graves, a common feature of many burials is a tendency towards the selective expression of household identity through the provision of food and drink related offerings, as well as the notion of the burial place as a “house” for the dead: an inversion of life through the mirror and transition of death.  While these observations do not tell us what people actually believed, the ritual actions as preserved archaeologically, accompanied by textual sources, can provide indications of the powerful role of the dead amongst the living long after burial.    

Dr. Jack Greene (also known as John D.M. Green) is Chief Curator of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago (since 2011), where he is responsible for management, presentation, and interpretation of museum collections and special exhibits. Most recently, he has co-curated the exhibits Picturing the Past: Imaging and Imagining the Ancient Middle East (2012) and Our Work: Modern Jobs – Ancient Origins (2013-14) at the Oriental Institute Museum. Originally from England, he was previously Curator for the Ancient Near East at the Ashmolean       Museum, University of Oxford.  Jack received his PhD from the  Institute of Archaeology, University College London in 2006. His research at UCL and the British Museum has focused mainly on burial customs of the Late Bronze Age and Iron Ages in the Southern Levant, including the cemetery at Tell es-Sa‘idiyeh Jordan.  He has conducted archaeological fieldwork in the UK, Turkey, Syria, and Jordan, and is currently engaged in cultural heritage projects in Afghanistan and the West Bank.  His research interests also include the archaeology of gender and histories of archaeology.

This will be an exciting afternoon as well as a fitting conclusion to the CAS holiday afternoon.

Date: Sunday, December 8, 2013 
Place: Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Avenue.
Time: 2:00 p.m. Holiday Luncheon & Special Luncheon Drawing.
Program: 3:30 p.m. Presentation by our guest speaker:
Dr. Jack Green, From Life To Death in Ancient
Canaan and Israel.

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