Lectures

  • Andrea Mantegna's Adoration of the Magi and its Ming connection

    Andrea Mantegna's Adoration of the Magi and its Ming connection

    Thursday 4 December 2014, 13.30
    BP Lecture Theatre
    Free, booking essential

    Andrea Mantegna’s painting of the Adoration of the Magi features a bowl confirmed to be from the imperial factory at Jingdezhen, made in the Yongle period (1403–1424). Ming porcelain did appear in Europe in the early 15th century but it was very rare – perhaps Mantegna’s patron owned an example. Caroline Campbell, Curator of Italian paintings before 1500, National Gallery, London, discusses the painting and how it is a window on a world of extraordinary connections.

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  • China and her neighbours from the Mongols to the Ming

    China and her neighbours from the Mongols to the Ming

    Saturday 18 October 2014, 13.30
    BP Lecture Theatre
    Free, booking essential

    Jessica Rawson, Professor of Chinese Art and Archaeology, University of Oxford, contextualises the social and cultural changes leading up to the Ming dynasty by reflecting on aspects of pre-existing ancient Chinese international networks.

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  • Chinese prints: drawing from the past

    Chinese prints: drawing from the past

    Friday 12 December 2014, 14.00-15.00
    Room 95
    Free, booking essential

    Mary Ginsberg, British Museum, introduces examples of work from contemporary Chinese printmakers who take inspiration from traditional Ming styles and techniques, and compares these with examples of prints from the late Ming dynasty.

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  • Cities of the Levant: the Past for the Future?

    Cities of the Levant: the Past for the Future?

    Joint BM/PEF/Council for British Research in the Levant/British Foundation for the Study of Arabia Lecture

    Thursday 13 November 2014, 16.00
    BP Lecture Theatre
    Free – booking essential.

    Philip Mansel, Author of Levant: Splendour and Catastrophe on the Mediterranean.

    Cities have their own dynamism. Location, population, and wealth can give them the power to defy or ignore states. They subvert received ideas about national identity. Dr Philip Mansel, author of Levant: Splendour and Catastrophe on the Mediterranean, will speak about the cities of the Levant, particularly Smyrna, Alexandria and Beirut. Under the Ottoman Empire and its successors they were inhabited by Muslims, Christians and Jews. The alliance between France and the Ottoman Empire - called by one French ambassador 'the union between the lily and the crescent' - and the capitulations enabled foreigners to live, trade, and establish schools there. For a time dialogue trumped conflict, deals came before ideals. Smyrna was described as a light-house illuminating every corner of the Ottoman Empire. 'If Smyrna is the eye of Asia’, it was said, ‘the quay is the pupil of the eye’. Norman Douglas called it ‘the most enjoyable place on earth’. Alexandria, 'the Queen of the Mediterranean', was compared to a European ship moored off the coast of Egypt; Beirut was called the Paris of the Middle East. Philip Mansel asks how these cities functioned and explores their shared characteristics - diplomacy, trade, hybridity, pleasure, modernity and vulnerability. In the end Smyrna was burnt, Alexandria Egyptianised, Beirut ravaged by civil war. What is the message of the cities of the Levant for today's mixed cities, such as London, Paris, and Dubai?

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  • Curator's introduction to Ancient lives, new discoveries

    Curator's introduction to Ancient lives, new discoveries

    Friday 23 May 2014, 13.30 (JT)
    Friday 20 June 2014, 13.30 (JT) Sign interpreted
    Friday 4 July 2014, 13.30 (MV)
    Saturday 13 September 2014, 13.30 (MV)
    Thursday 30 October 2014, 13.30 (DA)
    Friday 28 November 2014, 13.30 (DA)
    BP Lecture Theatre
    Free, booking essential

    Exhibition Curators John Taylor (JT), Marie Vandenbeusch (MV) and Daniel Antoine (DA) give a 45-minute illustrated introduction to the exhibition. The event on 30 Oct will have live speech-to-text transcription for deaf and hard of hearing people.

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  • Curator's introduction to Ming: 50 years that changed China

    Curator's introduction to Ming: 50 years that changed China

    Friday 26 September, 13.30 JHH
    Friday 3 October, 13.30 YPL
    Thursday 16 October, 13.30 CC
    Friday 31 Oct, 13.30 CC
    Saturday 15 November, 13.30 YPL Sign interpreted
    Thursday 11 December, 13.30 JHH
    BP Lecture Theatre
    Free, booking essential

    Curators Jessica Harrison-Hall (JHH), Yu-Ping Luk (YPL) and Craig Clunas (CC) give a 45-minute illustrated introduction to the exhibition. The event on 11 Dec will have speech-to-text transcription for deaf and hard of hearing people.

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  • Embalming: theory and practice

    Embalming: theory and practice

    Thursday 2 October 2014, 13.30
    BP Lecture Theatre
    Free, booking essential

    Ancient Egyptian embalming techniques are popularly known, but where does our information come from and how does recent research challenge our assumptions? Project Curator Marie Vandenbeusch explains what the ancient texts say on embalming practice, what experts expect to find through CT scanning processes, and what the evidence leads us to conclude about this ancient process.

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  • From 3rd Millennium BC Hunters to Crusaders

    From 3rd Millennium BC Hunters to Crusaders

    Culture, Beliefs and Commercial Dealings in Ancient Sidon

    Joint BM/PEF – Evans Memorial Lecture


    Thursday 4 December 2014, 16.00
    BP Lecture Theatre
    Free – booking essential

    Claude Doumet Serhal, British Museum

    The British Museum in collaboration with the Department of Antiquities of Lebanon has been excavating in Sidon for the past 15 years. This city state, 30km south of the Lebanese capital, Beirut, was one of the most important ancient Canaanite and Phoenician coastal cities. However, like other places in modern Lebanon, most of what we knew of its history until now came from contemporary Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian and Greek records. Events of ritual activity that involve shared food and drink consumption can be identified in Middle Bronze Age Sidon from funerary assemblages as well as from “ritual breakage and burning” of pottery. Prestige items and ritual paraphernalia are also found in the Late Bronze Age reinforcing the Sidon excavation as a reference site for substantiating Middle Bronze Age communal feasts, a fundamental aspect of Levantine archaeology. An important network of maritime traffic with Sidon started in the third millennium BC which then progressed, from as early as the 12th dynasty, through the exchange of Egyptian, Cypriot and Aegean pottery. In the Late Bronze Age, the elites from Sidon exclusively obtained open vessels linked to ceremonial and ritual activities. The Tawosret vessel is one of the first of these dedicated items to illustrate an aspect of international communications not directly linked to religion or trade. All of the above irrefutably adds to a better understanding and a broadening of our knowledge of Levantine archaeology.

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  • Inside out: revealing nature’s secrets

    Inside out: revealing nature’s secrets

    Friday 26 September 2014, 18.30
    BP Lecture Theatre
    £5, Members/concessions £3

    Whether helping pathologists to perform virtual autopsies, scrutinising a Martian meteorite or revealing the secrets of ancient mummies, computerised visualisation techniques through CT and MRI scans are opening up new worlds of understanding. Anders Persson, Director of the Center for Medical Image Science and Visualization, and Anders Ynnerman, founder of the Norrköping Visualization and Interaction Studio, showcase their world-leading research and techniques.

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  • Ming Beijing

    Ming Beijing

    Friday 24 October 2014, 18.30
    BP Lecture Theatre
    £5, Members/concessions £3

    Susan Naquin, Professor Emeritus of History and East Asian Studies at Princeton University and author of Peking: Temples and City Life, 1400–1900, asks if any traces of Ming dynasty Beijing can be left in today’s huge modern city. This lecture will explore China’s capital in search of those objects, buildings and sites that survive and can be seen by the intrepid, casual or armchair traveller.

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  • Ming Chinese painting

    Ming Chinese painting

    Thursday 6 November 2014, 14.00-15.00
    Room 95
    Free, booking essential

    Clarissa von Spee, British Museum, introduces some examples of Chinese painting from around the 14th to 16th centuries, with a focus on the early Ming dynasty.

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  • New discoveries from ancient Egypt

    New discoveries from ancient Egypt

    Friday 7 November 2014, 18.30
    BP Lecture Theatre
    £5, Members/concessions £3

    In this lecture, Exhibition Curators John Taylor and Daniel Antoine, British Museum, highlight research methods, CT scans and visualisation techniques used in the preparation of the exhibition Ancient lives, new discoveries. This will include a demonstration of the software and how it enabled researchers to view human remains in new ways, and a discussion on how these results challenge previous assumptions.
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  • Origins of mummification in Egypt

    Origins of mummification in Egypt

    Thursday 25 September 2014, 13.30
    Stevenson Lecture Theatre
    Free, booking essential

    Recent research has shown the first mummified remains to be found in the Nile Valley date from 3500 BC rather than 3000 BC as previously thought. Renée Friedman, British Museum, shares her research on the origins of the mummification process, the relationship between natural and artificial mummification, and how this informs our view of a process so ingrained in popular understanding of the ancient Egyptians.

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  • Ten days in the life of Dura-Europos

    Ten days in the life of Dura-Europos

    Gods, cults and temples on the Seleucid, Parthian and Roman Euphrates

    Joint BM/PEF – Evans Memorial Lecture


    Thursday 23 October 2014, 16.00
    BP Lecture Theatre
    Free – booking essential.

    Ted Kaizer, University of Durham.

    Dura-Europos, a small fortress town situated on a plateau looking out over the Middle Euphrates river, was under first Seleucid, then Parthian, and finally Roman control. The rather clear-cut periodization of Dura’s history has of course strong implications for the study of the town’s religious life. Excavations have revealed an astonishing variety of gods and goddesses, and amongst those who received a cult were traditionally Greek deities, indigenous and Roman ones, and gods from the nearby caravan city of Palmyra. Ten snapshots selected from the rich material evidence will be used to showcase not only the variety but also the development of Dura’s religious life. To what degree can a reconstruction of the town’s ritual calendar be attempted?

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  • The Forbidden City

    The Forbidden City

    Friday 24 October 2014, 13.30
    BP Lecture Theatre
    Free, booking essential

    In this lecture, Frances Wood guides us through the enormous complex of buildings known as the Forbidden City, one of the most famous extant legacies of the Ming dynasty. Built on the orders of the Yongle Emperor, the Forbidden City was the centre of the imperial court and government within the new capital of Beijing. It was divided into the outer court, used for ceremonial purposes, and the inner court, the residence for the imperial family.

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  • The Indian Ocean at the time of Zheng He

    The Indian Ocean at the time of Zheng He

    Friday 14 November 2014, 13.30
    BP Lecture Theatre
    Free, booking essential

    Zheng He is a crucial character in the early Ming period. Between 1405 and 1433 he led seven official missions from China to kingdoms around the Indian Ocean, from Southeast Asia to East Africa. In this lecture, Elizabeth Lambourn, De Montfort University, Leicester, paints a picture of the hugely varied cultures Zheng He encountered during these voyages.

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  • The Wilderness of Zin – 100 Years on

    The Wilderness of Zin – 100 Years on

    Joint BM/PEF Lecture

    6 November 2014, 16.00
    BP Lecture Theatre
    Free – booking essential.

    Sam Moorhead, British Museum, Portable Antiquities Scheme

    As trauma grips the Middle East today, it is interesting to go back a hundred years to the last year of peace in the region before the outbreak of World War One. The Ottoman Empire was still the major power in the Levant, but Britain and Germany both had major interests in the Eastern Mediterranean. With this in mind, Lord Kitchener realised the importance of completing the Palestine Exploration Fund’s mapping of the Holy Land; the Negeb Desert south of Beersheba had not been covered in the 19th century survey. Therefore, in December 1913, a Royal Engineers cartographic team was sent into the Wilderness of Zin in southern Palestine, with an archaeological smokescreen provided by the PEF which employed two young archaeologists who were later to become famous in their own right: Leonard Woolley and T. E. Lawrence. This short episode brings together numerous strands of political, military, archaeological and social activity on the eve of the Great War, and was also to be an essential experience for the future Lawrence of Arabia. Sam Moorhead edited the latest version of the Wilderness of Zin, published by the PEF and Stacey International in 2003.

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  • The excavations of Machaerus, where John the Baptist was Imprisoned and Executed

    The excavations of Machaerus, where John the Baptist was Imprisoned and Executed

    Joint BM/PEF - Iain Browning Memorial Lecture

    Thursday 2 October 2014, 16.00
    BP Lecture Theatre
    Free – booking essential

    Gyõzõ Vörös, Hungarian Academy of Arts.

    The Herodian fortified palace of Machaerus, overlooking the Dead Sea in Transjordan, is the historical place where, according to Flavius Josephus (AJ XVIII 5, 2), one of the holiest men of his era (known to Jews as Yokhanan the Baptizer; to Christians as Saint John the Baptist, and to Muslims as the Prophet Yahyaibn Zakariyya), was confined and executed by the Tetrarch Herod Antipas. The site of Machaerus was rediscovered by the German explorer, Ulrich Jasper Seetzen in 1807, and more extensive remains were identified by the French Domenican Father Felix-Marie Abel in 1909. Since then, the site has been excavated several times, first in the 1960’s by E Jerry Vardaman, and then in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s by Virgilio Canio Corbo and Michele Piccirillo, both of the Fansciscan Biblical School in Jerusalem. Following Father Piccirillo’s unexpected death in 2008, the Hungarian Academy of Arts has been conducting archaeological excavations and architectural surveys in the ancient hilltop royal castle and city of Machaerus, since 2009. The results have been published in the first of two magnificent volumes. In this lecture, Dr. Gyõzõ Vörös will place the archaeological site of Machaerus in its New Testament context, in order to elucidate the blurred scene of a biblical site, and reconstruct it as clearly as possible in the light of up-to-date historical, archaeological and architectural research.

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  • The quest for the copper mountain of Magan

    The quest for the copper mountain of Magan

    How early metallurgy shaped Arabia and set the horizons of the Bronze Age world

    Saturday 26 July 2014, 19.00
    BP Lecture Theatre
    Free, booking essential

    More than 4,000 years before petroleum reconfigured Arabia's role in the modern world, copper played a similar part in the development of Bronze Age Arabia. Lloyd Weeks, University of New England, Australia, will discuss the social, technological and economic roles of metals in the early complex societies of the ancient Near East, and the ways in which a Bronze Age copper 'boom' in south-eastern Arabia, ancient Magan, underpinned its integration into the long-distance exchange systems and cultural encounters that characterised the Bronze Age world.

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  • The story of the 1939 Sutton Hoo excavation: Britain's Tutankhamun

    The story of the 1939 Sutton Hoo excavation: Britain's Tutankhamun

    Friday 25 July 2014, 18.30-19.45
    BP Lecture Theatre
    £5, Members/concessions £3

    John Preston's aunt found the first gold discovered at Sutton Hoo. In this talk, he describes the remarkable story behind the excavation and how it prompted him to write his novel The Dig. The remarkable treasures from Sutton Hoo transformed our understanding of the Anglo-Saxon world and they are now on display in the Museum's newly refurbished Room 41.

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  • Who were the ancient Egyptians?

    Who were the ancient Egyptians?

    Friday 21 November 2014, 13.30
    BP Lecture Theatre
    Free, booking essential

    Professor Joel D Irish, Liverpool John Moores University, gives an overview of the peoples of the Nile Valley, investigating population origins, biological affinities and migration patterns within and beyond Egypt, drawn from his extensive work in dental anthropology.

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