Institute for the Study of the Ancient World

Institute for the Study of the Ancient World Old world, new vision. The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University is a center for advanced scholarly research and graduate education, intended to cultivate comparative and connective investigations of the ancient world from the western Mediterranean to China, open to the integration of every category of evidence and relevant method of analysis.
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The official page of ISAW. Spam/ads, profanity, slurs, or attacks will be deleted.

Mission: ISAW features doctoral and postdoctoral programs, with the aim of training a new generation of scholars who will enter the global academic community and become intellectual leaders. Built around a mix of established and younger scholars, the Institute is designed to make possible concrete progress in ground-breaking study that would be more difficult within narrow disciplinary bounds.

Operating as usual

The ISAW Student Council and the Society for Ancient Studies are collaborating on a new Ancient World Graduate Workshop ...
10/16/2020

The ISAW Student Council and the Society for Ancient Studies are collaborating on a new Ancient World Graduate Workshop Series (AWGWS)!

There is still time to register for the first session next week and to submit papers for the second session on November 17th. Click the link in our bio for more information and to register!

As deinstallation of #Awondertobehold begins, our last object history post for this exhibition features everyone’s favor...
09/23/2020

As deinstallation of #Awondertobehold begins, our last object history post for this exhibition features everyone’s favorite artifact! Do you notice something unusual on this brick? In antiquity, as today, city life included wayward animals scampering across your path!

The process of brick-making in ancient Babylonia took place in flat open-air spaces. An irresistible invitation to free roaming cats and dogs. While the clay was still malleable, it was possible to impress royal inscriptions and stamps onto the bricks. Yet these are not the only marks that are preserved. Dogs and cats also wandered around the brickyards, as evidenced by paw impressions on some brick faces like this one. This aspect of Babylonian city life may be hinted at in a letter written by the citizens of Babylon to the Assyrian king Esarhaddon (r. 680–669 BCE): “Whoever enters inside it (Babylon), his privileged status is secured ... Not even a dog that enters inside it is killed.”

Check out our story to see some contemporary cat pawprints spotted by one of our curators outside a Whole Foods in New Jersey. Chances are you have also seen wild and domestic animal paw prints preserved in concrete-- we invite you to share your photos using the hashtag #isawishtarslionathome and tag us!

Fragmentary brick stamped with cuneiform inscription of Nebuchadnezzar II and impressed with a dog’s paw print
Neo-Babylonian Period (reign of Nebuchadnezzar II, 604–562 BCE)
Baked clay
Babylon, Iraq
H. 22.5 cm; W. 28 cm; D. 8.5 cm
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Vorderasiatisches Museum: VA Bab 04060.005
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Vorderasiatisches Museum; Photo: Olaf M. Teßmer

#objecthistory #isawnyu #isawishtarslion

Another small but extremely powerful artifact from #AWondertoBehold is this beautiful Mold for a Female Figurine. Across...
09/16/2020

Another small but extremely powerful artifact from #AWondertoBehold is this beautiful Mold for a Female Figurine. Across the ancient Middle East, the medium of clay (synonymous with earth) was associated with fertility and abundance, home and security, and more broadly, settled, urban civilization. This was the material that allowed agriculture to take hold; as bricks, it formed the building blocks of homes, temples, palaces, city walls, and entire cities.

According to Mesopotamian cosmologies, clay was one of the earliest materials in existence at the creation of the universe. The first gods, and in turn, the first humans were formed from clay--in many accounts, with the aid of molds.

Molds such as the one seen here were widely used across the ancient Middle East to create figurines of nude or semi-nude women. Although the purpose of such images is uncertain, they were likely used to help women through pregnancy, birth, and the post-partum period, and protected newly-born infants--these transitions being the most momentous and dangerous.

The magical power of clay figurines lay not only in their composition from clay, but also in the mold-making technology, which re-enacted the original creation. This medium and technology also ensured the powerful vitality of the beasts of the Ishtar Gate.

Mold for a female figurine
Middle Elamite Period, ca. 1500–1100 BCE
Molded baked clay
Susa, Iran
H. 19 cm; W. 8.5 cm; D. 3 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris, Département des Antiquités orientales: Sb 7413

#isawnyu #objecthistory #isawishtarslion

For today’s #objecthistory post we turn away from building blocks of the monumental to look at the minuscule yet mighty ...
09/09/2020

For today’s #objecthistory post we turn away from building blocks of the monumental to look at the minuscule yet mighty ancient cylinder seal. This cylinder seal is carved in chalcedony--a type of quartz that comes in a variety of colorful shades. This material was especially popular during the late Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian periods and was imported from abroad, possibly as far as India. As the hardest known material at this time, chalcedony was incredibly difficult to carve, requiring expert manipulation of tools such as the drill, cutting wheel, and file.

The imagery is not always clearly visible on the seal itself because it was not filled in with pigment. Moreover, the inclusions and patterns of the stone itself often competed visually with the carved image. As such, seals served talismanic, protective functions as jewelry.

When pressed and rolled out across a still-soft clay tablet or sealing (closure for a door or vessel), the seal impression functioned as a signature, and the imagery was revealed.

Cylinder seal and modern impression with a worshipper or priest before the divine symbols of Marduk (spade) and Nabu (stylus), and a god on a winged animal
Neo-Assyrian or Neo-Babylonian Period, ca. 800–700 BCE
Chalcedony
Probably Mesopotamia, Iraq
H. 2.8 cm; Diam. 1.3 cm
The Morgan Library & Museum, New York: Morgan Seal 692

#isawnyu #isawishtarslion #awondertobehold #museumsfromhome

Eye’s forward as we start the new semester! This brick depicting a portion of a deity’s head probably comes from the fac...
09/02/2020

Eye’s forward as we start the new semester! This brick depicting a portion of a deity’s head probably comes from the facade of a palace or temple at the site of Ashur in Assyria (modern-day northern Iraq). This piece is interesting because it shows that similar approaches to architectural decoration were being explored both in Assyria and Babylonia in the mid 1st millennium BCE. Like the divine beasts of the Ishtar Gate and Processional Way, this figure of a deity was assembled from multiple glazed bricks. In contrast to the Babylonian bricks, however, this example from Ashur is two-dimensional--that is, the imagery is painted on the bricks rather than molded. Nonetheless, in both cases, fitters’ marks were required to assemble the final architectural facade.

Take a look back at our April 15th post on the fitters’ mark system used at Babylon, as recorded in the watercolor illustrations by architect and archaeologist Walter Andrae. Although different systems of fitters’ marks were used in different cities, there was some overlap in the symbols-- can you match the symbols on top of this brick with some of the ones from Babylon?

Brick with part of a god’s face and fitters’ marks
Neo-Assyrian Period, ca. 800–612 BCE
Glazed baked clay
Ashur (modern Qal'at Sharqat), Iraq
H. 8 cm; W. 34.5 cm; D. 16.5 cm
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Vorderasiatisches Museum: VA Ass 02299

#isawnyu #isawishtarslion #museumsfromhome #awondertobehold

What do you see when you look at these fragments? Can you imagine the larger work of art to which these pieces belonged?...
08/26/2020

What do you see when you look at these fragments? Can you imagine the larger work of art to which these pieces belonged?

These fragments of molded and glazed brick originally formed a monumental composition on the walls of the Inshushinak Temple at Susa in modern-day Iran--one of the earliest examples of the techniques later utilized on the Ishtar Gate. This architectural feature consisted of several repeating images of the Middle Elamite king, Shilhak-Inshushinak, “king of Anshan and Susa,” and his queen. Although the panels are not completely preserved, it is clear that the figures were depicted in a static, but strong and regal pose: their torsos facing the viewer, hands folded, while their heads and feet were turned in profile.

The fragment seen on the right represents the hand of a queen, holding a flower. The piece on the left is a fragment of the royal inscription band that ran across the bodies of the figures at hip-level.

Check out our story for an image of the larger work of art.

Fragmentary bricks with a cuneiform inscription and with the hand of a queen
Middle Elamite Period, Shutrukid Dynasty (reign of Shilhak-Inshushinak, ca. 1150–1120 BCE)
Molded and glazed siliceous material
Inshushinak Temple, Apadana Mound, Susa, Iran
H. 10.1 cm; W. 13.5 cm; D. 10.5 cm and H. 10.5 cm; W. 11.6 cm; D. 10.4 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris, Département des Antiquités orientales: Sb 11481 and Sb 726
© Musée du Louvre, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Raphael Chipault / Art Resource, NY

#isawnyu #isawishtarslion #museumsfromhome #awondertobehold #objecthistory

08/19/2020

For today’s #objecthistory we look at another reconstruction of the designs and colors that decorated Ishtar Gate in antiquity. This beautiful watercolor was painted on-site in Babylon by archaeologist, architect, and artist Walter Andrae. His close attention to detail was instrumental not only for reconstructing the visual programs of Babylon’s architecture, but also ancient construction methods. In this example, he has captured the transition of the remains of a wall from unglazed to glazed brick, as well as the bitumen that was used to secure and waterproof rows of bricks.

Walter Andrae
Portion of glazed brick wall showing rosette decoration and bitumen found in situ
1902 CE
Watercolor on paper
Babylon, Iraq
H. 31.5 cm; W. 20.7 cm

Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft, Berlin: ArDOG V.15.24
© Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft, Archiv; Photo: Olaf M. Teßmer

#isawnyu #isawishtarslion #awondertobehold #museumsfromhome #archaeology

Ancient History at Basel
08/17/2020

Ancient History at Basel

In August 2017, she joined our Ancient History team in Basel 🏛
In May 2018, she successfully attained her PhD from NYU's Institute for the Study of the Ancient World on "The Economic Integration of a Late Roman Province: Egypt from Diocletian to Anastasius" 🎓
In October 2019, she started as PI of the Forschungsfonds Project "Nomismation: Measuring Monetary Integration in the Late Roman Empire" (https://altegeschichte.philhist.unibas.ch/de/forschung/forschungsprojekte/nomismation/) 🏺

This fall, our Institute's PostDoc Assistant Dr. Irene Soto Marín will join the University of Michigan as Assistant Professor of Classical Studies and Assistant Curator of Numismatics at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology! 🎊
Our Institute could not be more proud to see Dr. Soto Marín continue her research at Ann Arbor 📜
https://lsa.umich.edu/kelsey/news-events/all-news/search-news/the-kelsey-museum-and-the-department-of-classical-studies-welcom.html

#ancienthistory #classicalstudies #classics #numismatics #lateantiquity #assistantprofessor #michigan #basel

Archaeological Institute of America
08/17/2020
Archaeological Institute of America

Archaeological Institute of America

The AIA is pleased to announce a series of three webinars addressing issues of race, diversity and inclusion in teaching archaeology, classics, ancient history, museums, and cultural heritage. The seminars aim to provide concrete strategies for educators to incorporate new approaches and resources that promote inclusivity in courses on the ancient Mediterranean. The webinars are free, but registration is required
https://www.archaeological.org/aia-seminars-critical-conversations-on-race-teaching-and-antiquity/

08/12/2020

For today’s Object History post we offer up our second curator-led short talk to wade into the waters of understanding the use of color and material in ancient Babylonia.

In this video, curator Anastasia Amrhein looks closely at several objects in the exhibition to answer a question that has been raised by many visitors to A Wonder to Behold-- "Why is the Ishtar Gate blue?”

#isawnyu #isawishtarslion #awondertobehold #museumsfromhome #objecthistory

This 1912 watercolor offers a beautiful look at how the Ishtar gate façade would have looked in antiquity. It was certai...
08/05/2020

This 1912 watercolor offers a beautiful look at how the Ishtar gate façade would have looked in antiquity. It was certainly a visual highlight of Babylon’s architecture. Using molded and glazed bricks, the Gate itself featured rows of white and yellow marching bulls and dragons against a blue background. As symbols of the gods and ferocious wild and imaginary animals, these figures protected Babylon’s sacred inner city from mortal as well as supernatural foes.

Friedrich Wachtsmuth
Reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate façade
1912 CE
Watercolor on paper
H. 51.4 cm; W. 69 cm
Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft, Berlin: ArDOG V.29.100
© Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft, Archiv; Photo: Olaf M. Teßmer

#isawnyu #isawishtarslion #museumsfromhome #awondertobehold

For today's object history post we take a step further and look at the people who help bring these objects to light.•Sto...
07/29/2020

For today's object history post we take a step further and look at the people who help bring these objects to light.

Stories told through exhibitions develop through the collaborative efforts of curators, researchers, conservators, and collection managers. To celebrate the connections between people across institutions, ISAW is featuring Katy Blanchard, Fowler/Van Santvoord Keeper of Collections at the Penn Museum. Katy's deep knowledge of the Penn Museum's collection was instrumental to ISAW's exhibit, A Wonder to Behold. When curators visited the collections storage at Penn, Katy pulled objects that didn't have much of an online presence and were therefore unknown to the curators. Katy's unexpected and delightful finds included these two hand-modeled terracotta figurines from domestic residences at Billa (Iraq). These objects had never been on display before, and the possibility of placing them in the spotlight after thousands of years spent underground and followed by decades in museum storage was thrilling.

The hand-made nature of the lion and bull figurines offers an especially poignant link to the ancient past in ISAW's exhibit, as they show how the imagery of the Ishtar Gate was meaningful to people of all social levels in their daily lives. In contrast to objects typically seen in museums (that originate from elite contexts such as palaces and temples), these objects were manufactured for use in personal magical rituals and perhaps also doubled as toys or teaching tools.

#ConnectingCollections #isawnyu #isawishtarslion #awondertobehold #museumfromhome

07/22/2020
Museums.love

Museums.love

New video to go with our NEW BOOKSTORE! The Ishtar Gate of Babylon is explored as never before in an exhibition catalog from the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World in New York. Find out what you can look forward to behind the cover!

Babylon’s Ishtar Gate comprised a 200 meter long Processional Way leading up to a 50 meter long Gate which intersected t...
07/22/2020

Babylon’s Ishtar Gate comprised a 200 meter long Processional Way leading up to a 50 meter long Gate which intersected two city walls.

To create this drawing, Alfred Bollacher used surviving archaeological evidence, found by archaeologists working at Babylon beginning in 1899. Combining fragments of molded bricks found scattered across the site with the Gate’s foundation levels--which were found intact--Bollacher imagines what the superstructure of this famous monument might have looked like.

Alfred Bollacher
Reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate
1918 CE
Ink on paper
H. 33.7 cm; W. 46.9 cm
Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft, Berlin: ArDOG V.29.60
© Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft, Photo: Olaf M. Teßmer

#isawnyu #isawishtarslion #awondertobehold #museumsfromhome #objecthistory

How do you bring a temple wall to life? As sacred sites, temple walls could be embellished in a variety of ways. •At the...
07/15/2020

How do you bring a temple wall to life? As sacred sites, temple walls could be embellished in a variety of ways.

At the site of Susa, in modern day Iran, builders in the 12th century BCE took the innovative step of molding bricks to create protective figures like this bull-man. Clay was a vital substance in the ancient Middle East and was used here not just to decorate the walls of the temple but to activate the divine bull-man.

Bricks with a protective bull-man and cuneiform inscription
Middle Elamite Period, Shutrukid Dynasty (reign of Kutir-Nahhunte and Shilhak-Inshushinak, ca. 1150–1120 BCE)
Molded baked clay
Inshushinak Temple, Apadana Mound, Susa, Iran
H. 139 cm; W. 36 cm; D. 33 cm

Musée du Louvre, Paris, Département des Antiquités orientales: Sb 21960
© RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY. Photo: Franck Raux

#objecthistory #isawnyu #isawishtarslion #museumsfromhome #awondertobehold

Bringing a little floral delight to your Wednesday from #awondertobehold with today’s #objecthistory post!•In the Achaem...
07/08/2020

Bringing a little floral delight to your Wednesday from #awondertobehold with today’s #objecthistory post!

In the Achaemenid Period, a technique similar to cloisonné was used to embellish architectural surfaces. Thin metal strips were applied to a brick to outline designs, creating borders that confined the liquid glaze and prevented different colors from bleeding into one another. This technique also allowed for the thick layering of pigment, which created deeper and more vibrant colors.

Three fragmentary bricks with palmette motif.
Achaemenid Period, ca. 559–331 BCE. Glazed siliceous material. Susa, Iran
(a) H. 8.6 cm; W. 21.4 cm; D. 12.6 cm; (b) H. 8.6 cm; W. 21.5 cm; D. 10.4 cm; (c) H. 8.6 cm; W. 18.8 cm; D. 13.8 cm.

Lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1948: 48.98.20a–c
CC0 1.0 Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

#isawishtarslion #museumsfromhome #isawnyu

For today’s object history post we are collaborating with Penn Museum, Yale Babylonian Collection, and The Metropolitan ...
07/01/2020

For today’s object history post we are collaborating with Penn Museum, Yale Babylonian Collection, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York for #connectingcollections.

This seal is on loan to ISAW from the Penn Museum. In "A Wonder to Behold," this piece--made over two thousand years prior to the Ishtar Gate and Processional Way--demonstrates the long history and significance of lion imagery in the ancient Middle East. Carved in high relief, this seal captures the iconic profile of a lion's head. On Babylon’s Processional Way, the same animal's full profile was repeated 120 times using molded and glazed clay bricks created with terracotta molds. The seal similarly plays with positive and negative relief imagery. When impressed into clay, the intaglio carvings on the seal's flat side (also perhaps lions) could be endlessly reproduced as raised images.

Zoomorphic-shaped stones dating to the Uruk and Jemdet-Nasr periods have been found during excavations at Susa and Ur, suggesting economic and cultural links between these early cities in Iran and Iraq. These objects look like later stamp seals—as they are carved with images on their flat sides. No examples of tablets with early writing featuring the impressions of such seals are known, but the objects may have been used on clay bullae, or on the lumps of clay used to seal vessels and storage rooms—materials that would have later been thrown out. At the same time, the stones may have been worn as amulets. Despite these commonalities, differences in material and carving techniques can be seen in the examples on view at @isawnyu and in the collections of the @metmuseum, the @pennmuseum, and the @yalebabyloniancollection.

Stamp seal in the shape of a lion and modern impression, with three animals on the seal face
Marble
Probably Mesopotamia, Iraq
Seal: H. 5.1 cm; W. 4.5 cm; D. 1.7 cm; Impression: H. 6.5 cm; W. 5.5 cm
Jemdet Nasr Period, ca. 3000–2900 BCE
B14537
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia
Bequest of Maxwell Sommerville, 1904

#connectingcollections #objecthistory #isawnyu #awondertobehold #isawishtarslion #museumsfromhome #ancientmiddleeast #virtuallionpride

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Opening March 6th: “Hymn to Apollo: The Ancient World and the Ballets Russes”

What can we know about ancient dance? Why did European avant-garde artists look to antiquity at the beginning of the twentieth century? With an array of ancient representations of dance, Hymn to Apollo: The Ancient World and the Ballet Russes explores both the role of dance in ancient culture and the influence of antiquity on the modernist reinventions of the Ballets Russes, the ground-breaking dance company founded in Paris by Sergei Diaghilev.

With about 100 works, including outstanding examples of ancient pottery, sculpture, and metalwork, as well as watercolors, sketchbooks, photographs, costumes, and other archival material from the Ballets Russes, this exhibition—the first on the topic—reveals a rich, multifaceted dialogue between the ancient and the modern. More than a simple story of the reception of antiquity by artists in the twentieth century, Hymn to Apollo shows how artists returned to antiquity not as benighted traditionalists but as radical revolutionaries, intent on creating something new.

http://isaw.nyu.edu/exhibitions/future-list

Our exhibitions are free and open to the public. When we have an active exhibition, the typical gallery hours are as follows: Wednesday-Sunday, 11am-6pm, Friday 11am-8pm Closed Mondays and Tuesdays Free Guided Tour, Fridays at 6pm


Comments

You may wish to enjoy this VR experience of one of the oldest Hypogea discovered a century ago in Malta, the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQpvMWG9fws&t=259s If your interest lies in the developing of 360 degree VR experiences of the world's heritage site check our website and make contact.
This discovery should be of interest. Facebook.com/stonespeaker
Every exhibit at this place is stimulating and thought-provoking. The connection between the ancient Greeks and modern dance? Of course!
Tiny but wonderful Institute. Lots of really good exhibitions.
Luigi Enrico Rossi κηληθμῷ δ᾽ ἔσχοντο. Scritti editi e inediti (Collected papers) edited by Giulio Colesanti and Roberto Nicolai with the collaboration of Maria Broggiato, Andrea Ercolani, Manuela Giordano, Laura Lulli, Michele Napolitano, Riccardo Palmisciano, Livio Sbardella, Maurizio Sonnino The work collects all scientific writings, including some unpublished works, produced by Luigi Enrico Rossi (1933-2009) in almost fifty years of activity, in which he acted as professor of Greek Literature at the “Sapienza” university of Rome, enlivening the Greek Literature seminar in Rome, speaker at numerous conferences, as well as lecturer at many universities and institutions across the globe. In all his works we can see his characteristic approach to literature, understood as an act of communication within a precise historical context. The topics focus on Greek metric and music, Homer and the archaic epic, lyric poetry and symposium, Attic drama (tragedy and comedy but also satyr play), Hellenistic literature, literary criticism and history of classical studies. On the tenth anniversary of his untimely death, his Roman students, who continue his tradition in the new Seminars of Greek Literature "Luigi Enrico Rossi" at the "Sapienza" university of Rome, want to remember his fundamental work as a scholar collecting all his works, some of which are still unpublished (but already presented by him on various occasions), while others, issued in scientific publications not easy to find, risk with time to become inaccessible. We would therefore be very happy if you would accept our invitation to participate in this enterprise by joining the Tabula in memoriam using the attached form. Rome, 26 November 2018 Giulio Colesanti and Roberto Nicolai
Sito Megalitico ldp, Montarsolo, Alta Valtrebbia (Piacenza-Italy)