May 2019 Newsletter

There's always something happening at NMC, missed out?
Here is a snapshot of what went on this month and what's to come

The Depertment of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations would like to wish all those observing this month a peaceful and happy Ramadan Kareem!

NMC & CRANE Outreach

Stanley Klassen (NMC Collections Manager/Lab Technician) recently conducted a number of outreach events on behalf of NMC and the CRANE Project. On April 25th, Stan gave a lecture at the Royal Ontario Museum as part of the ROM Daytime lecture series. The talk was entitled The Computational Research on the Ancient Near East (CRANE) Project: Finding innovative potentials for new and old archaeological data. During the month of May, Stan also visited a number of classrooms in TDSB schools introducing enthusiastic young learners in Grade 4 to ancient artifacts and describing how local resources were used to produce them.

NMC also took part in the Science Rendezvous which was held on U of T’s St. George campus on May 11th. Our representatives (Tim Harrison, Radovan Kabatiar, and Stanley Klassen) exhibited various aspects of both CRANE (Computational Research on the Ancient Near East) and the Tell Tayinat Archaeological Project (TAP) to hundreds of enthusiastic visitors. Young participants enjoyed manipulating the 3D models of two basalt sculptures uncovered at Tell Tayinat (the crouching Lion and Suppiluliuma) using a touch screen monitor, as well as viewing and discussing the ongoing TAP excavations and the Orontes watershed climate modeling initiated by the CRANE Project viewed on a slideshow. Bone and ceramic artifacts from the NMC archaeology lab were also on display for those eager to view them through the hand held Dino-LiteTM microscope visible in real time on the adjacent computer screen.

Canadian Society for Coptic Studies Spring Lecture

Professor Linda Northrup gave an interesting lecture on her current research on the hospital founded by the Mamluk Sultan al-Mansur Qalawun (r. 1279-1290) in Cairo in the late 13th c. as a lens through which to study the interface between politics, religion/culture and medicine in medieval Egypt. Dr. Northrup’s talk explored how the Mamluk Sultan’s tomb-madrasa-hospital complex in Cairo relates to the status of Christians (Copts?) in medieval Egypt.  Discussion after the talk was animated and explored many further questions for research.

The  12th Canadian Society for Coptic Studies annual symposium this year will be in Ottawa  from June 19-22 . It will be jointly held with the 19th Association francophone de coptologie (AFC)  biannual conference, this is the AFC’s first time holding its meetings in North America. Three major universities in Ottawa— Carleton University, University of Ottawa, and St. Paul’s University are sponsoring the conference.

The conference brings together a wide range of scholarly research in theology, Egyptology, and anthropological studies and encourages interdisciplinary collaboration in Coptic and Middle East Studies.  The keynote speaker will be Professor Mariz Tadros, Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies (UK), Dr. Tadros specializes in the politics and human development of the Middle East, including democratisation, Islamist politics, gender, sectarianism, human security and religion and development.


Book Party!

On Wednesday 24 April 2019, the NMC community took some time off to pause and to celebrate the new books of Professors Amir Harrak and Jim Reilly. Professor Harrak published Le monastère de Mar-Behnam à la période atabeg-XIIIe s.: l'art au service de la foi in 2018 with Geuthner, and The Chronicle of Michael the Great (Edessa-Aleppo Syriac Codex) in 2019 with Gorgias Press. Professor Reilly’s Fragile Nation, Shattered Land: The Modern History of Syria came out in 2018 with I.B. Tauris/ Lynne Rienner.
Professors Amir Harrak and Jim Reilly spoke about their books at the gathering. Professor Harrak told stories about snakes, dragons, and other motifs from the monastery of Mar Behnam, which was heavily damaged by ISIS in 2015, but is currently being renovated. Professor Reilly reflected on the genesis of his book, which draws on his many years of research on Syria and teaching about the modern Middle East, but which seeks to have a broad non-academic readership. Professors Harrak and Reilly entertained many questions from the audience. Authors and audience then mingled over baklava and refreshments served in celebration, in good Middle Eastern tradition! Congratulations to Professors Harrak and Reilly! 

Upcoming Events

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