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Most of our events are held at our center in Amman. If located elsewhere, it will be stated clearly in the announcement. If you missed a lecture, most are also posted on our YouTube channel (Click here) a few days after.
Click here for our 2023 spring lecture series.
The Aphrodite-al‘Uzza Conservation Collaborative
Tuesday, 2 May 2023, 9:30 a.m.–3:00 p.m. (UTC +3)
In person and online (with live Arabic translation)
American Center of Research, Seminar Room
Archaeological excavations by the Petra North Ridge Project unexpectedly discovered two marble statues of Aphrodite at the ancient Nabataean capital prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Found amidst 4th-century AD domestic debris, both sculptures preserve fragile remains of ancient painting (or polychromy) and are among the most important statues of imported marble discovered at Petra in recent decades. Their fragmentary condition and corroding interior iron pins (from multiple ancient repairs) have required a detailed multidisciplinary conservation treatment. This hybrid workshop includes presentations on the discovery of the statues and their ancient historical and cultural contexts and describes their recent conservation in preparation for their public exhibition in the Petra Museum. In-person and online attendees can interact (with live Arabic translation) in this collaborative space to discuss these important additions to the rich archaeological heritage of Jordan.
For the workshop program and a link register for this event, please click here to visit our announcement page.
2023 SPRING LECTURE SERIES
“Geology and Fossils from Jordan” by Abdalla Abu Hamad and Ikhlas Alhejoj
This lecture will shed light on Jordan’s geology, including the different lithofacies (observable components) of exposed rock sequences and the ages of these rocks. Moreover, it will look at some economically important deposits. Theories of the Jordan rift formation will be explained, and the structural position of Jordan as part of the Arabian plate will be demonstrated. Seismological data related to later earthquakes in the region will be discussed.
Some interesting vertebrate fossils from Jordan will be shown, focusing on footprints of Upper Cretaceous dinosaurs. The lecture will also feature invertebrates and other fossils, notably of Permian plants in the Umm Irna Formation.
The lecturers will be pleased to answer questions after the presentation.
The lecture may be attended in person or via Zoom. English/Arabic translation will be available via Zoom.
Please click the link below at the time of the lecture to join us remotely:
About the speakers:
Abdalla Abu Hamad is a professor in the Department of Geology of the University of Jordan. He earned his PhD in paleontology/geology in 2004 from Hamburg University and the University of Muenster in Germany. His research interests focus on Permian paleobotany and paleo-wildfires to understand the impact of fire on Late Paleozoic paleoenvironments. He has published several papers, books, and a book chapter, and he organized the 14th International Permo-Triassic Workshop, held in Jordan in March 2017.
Ikhlas Alhejoj is an associate professor at the Department of Geology of the University of Jordan. She gained her PhD in Paleontology/Geology in 2013 from the Department of Geology and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Karlsruhe University of Technology (KIT), Germany. Her research interests focus on Quaternary paleo lake deposits as applied to to paleoclimate and paleo environment studies and also on deformation meso-structures and their formation mechanisms. She is further interested in the use of floral and faunal species as bio indicators of environmental conditions. She has published several papers, books, and book chapters and has presented research papers at international and national conferences. She is a member of the European Society for Deformation Mechanisms, Rheology, and Tectonics, the Jordanian Geologists Association, the Scientific and Technical Research Association, and the Association of Jordanian Women Academics.
“Sustainable Tourism in the Middle East: Nature and Heritage Conservation” by Lubna Qaryouti
Several European Union projects have worked tirelessly to develop a new model for ecotourism development that brings together protected areas and the tourism industry in a way that benefits nature, cultural heritage conservation, and local communities, as demonstrated by a robust sustainability-monitoring system.
The purpose of this lecture is to introduce and replicate this new ecotourism model and create a membership network for protected areas committed to embracing a new method of boosting tourism in the Middle East.
Cultural heritage is an important component of ecotourism for which the key challenges are:
• Conservation and restoration of tangible cultural heritage;
• Protection and valorization of intangible cultural heritage;
• Appropriate recognition and interpretation;
• Creation of stronger links among cultural heritage, local communities, and nature.
Jordan and other countries in the region are rich in cultural heritage sites that have the potential to be central attractions in terms of ecotourism and to create stronger links among cultural heritage, local communities, and nature.
About the speaker: Lubna Qaryouti, a national of Jordan, works with UNEP, the United Nations Environmental Program, as a national consultant for the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) Action Project. Ms. Lubna holds a master’s degree in natural resources from the University of Arizona in Tucson.
“States of Subsistence: The Politics of Bread in Contemporary Jordan” by José Ciro Martínez
On any given day in Jordan, more than nine million residents eat approximately ten million loaves of khubz ‘arabi—the slightly leavened flatbread known to many as pita. Some rely on this bread to avoid starvation; for others it is a customary pleasure. Yet, despite its ubiquity in accounts of Middle East politics and society, rarely do we consider how bread is prepared, consumed, discussed, and circulated—and what this all represents.
Drawing on more than a year working as a baker in Amman, Martínez probes the practices that underpin subsidized bread. Following bakers and bureaucrats, he offers an immersive examination of social welfare provision. Martínez argues that the state is best understood as the product of routine practices and actions, through which it becomes a stable truth in the lives of citizens. “States of Subsistence” not only describes logics of rule in contemporary Jordan—and the place of bread within them—but also unpacks how the state endures through forms, sensations, and practices amid the seemingly unglamorous and unspectacular day-to-day.
2022 FALL LECTURE SERIES
“The Jordan Museum: More Than 10,000 Years of Human Resilience and Innovation” by Ihab Amarin
Cultural and Linguistic Diversity of Ancient Jordan as Gleaned
from the Epigraphical and Written Sources
التّنَوع الثّقافي واللغوي للأردن القديم كما هو مستوحىً من النّصوص والكِتابات الأثرية
محاضرة بالتعاون مع دائرة الاّثار في الأردن
Date: Tuesday, September 6, 2022
Location: Department of Antiquities, Amman, Jordan
Time: 6:30–7:30 p.m. GMT+3 (Amman)
11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. EDT
Registration is required to attend either in person or remotely. In-person attendees must present their confirmation ticket and wear a face mask during the lecture.
The lecture will be delivered in Arabic and will also be livestreamed on Zoom with English-language interpretation.
2022 SPRING LECTURE SERIES
“History Disjointed: Mapping Art Histories in the Arab World, Iran, and Turkey”
Monday, April 25, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. Amman local time / 10:00 a.m. EDT
With the increasing interest in the modern and contemporary arts of the Arab World, Iran, and Turkey, the need for the field’s historiography is vital. As it stands now, it seems that this historiography is being developed mostly in the diaspora. The imbalance of this situation prompts inquiry into the state of the discipline of art history in the region. Throughout the Middle East and North African region there are many academic art programs in institutions of higher education that have been training generations of artists and educators. While some have a long history, others have been initiated only recently.
The ongoing Mapping Art Histories in the Arab World, Iran and Turkey project aims to compile information about teaching art history across 14 countries in the region and make that data available for scholars, researchers and students in order to develop a better understanding of global art history. Funded by the Getty Foundation’s Connecting Art Histories initiative, the project works toward a more inclusive understanding of how art history is perceived and art historiographies in the region is negotiated. This presentation initiates a space to discuss challenges both practical and theoretical, as well as comments on the state of the field and its definitions and episteme. It unpacks the role of art history as a discipline within the region, connecting disciplinary initiatives within the region and diaspora, and contributing to continuing discussions on the possibilities for decolonizing art history within the academy and beyond.
About the speaker:
Nada Shabout is a Regent Professor of Art History and the coordinator of the Contemporary Arab and Muslim Cultural Studies Initiative (CAMCSI) at the University of North Texas. She is the founding president of the Association for Modern and Contemporary Art from the Arab World, Iran and Turkey (AMCA) and founding director of Modern Art Iraq Archive. She is a curator and author of numerous essays and books and is currently working on a new book and project, “Demarcating Modernism in Iraqi Art: The Dialectics of the Decorative.” Shabout is on the board of directors, Visual Art Commission, Ministry of Culture, Saudi Arabia; the board of The Academic Research Institute in Iraq; and the College Art Association (CAA) board of directors (2020–2024). She received the 2020 Kuwait Prize for Arts and Literature from the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences.
“Funerary Dining or Offerings for the Dead? Archaeobotanical Evidence from the Shaft Tombs at Petra, Jordan”
Wednesday, March 16, 2022 at 7:00 pm Amman local time / 12:00 noon EST
There is extensive evidence from Hellenistic and Roman literary sources for the practice of funerary dining and the provisioning of offerings to the dead. Mortuary behaviors have generally relied on ceramic and faunal remains but rarely are they explored using evidence from plants. This lecture seeks to gain a better understanding of the role of plants in this type of ritual context through the analysis of botanical remains recovered from Nabataean tomb contexts in Petra. Analysis of samples taken from several tombs that were excavated over three seasons (2012, 2014 & 2016) indicates the presence of a variety foodstuff such as Triticum sp. (wheats), Hordeum vulgare (barley), Lens culinaris (lentil), Vitis vinifera (grape), Ficus carica (fig) and Phoenix dactylifera (date). These finds provide intriguing evidence of plants consumed or offered to the dead during ritual events. This study, in association with the analysis of bioarchaeological remains and ceramics, expands our knowledge of Nabataean funerary practices and contributes to a broader understanding of the role of plants in ritual funerary events in the ancient world.
About the speaker:
Dr. Jennifer Ramsay (Ph.D. in 2008) is Associate Professor and chair of the anthropology department at SUNY Brockport (State University of New York). Jennifer received the Archaeological Institute of America’s Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2019 and two State University of New York (SUNY) Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching (2014) and Excellence in Faculty Service (2020). Her area of expertise centers on the use of archaeobotany, subsistence reconstruction, trade patterns, environmental change, and land-use patterns to gain insight into lifeways of past societies. Although she specializes in the Roman and Late Antique world, Jennifer has also analyzed and published plant material from the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages, and Islamic periods. Over her career, she has participated in many archaeological excavation projects in Jordan, Israel and Italy at such sites as Petra, Pompeii and Caesarea Marittima.
“Polytemporality, Polyvocality and Connecting the Ancient and Contemporary Middle East”
Tuesday, February 8, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. Amman local time / 12:00 noon EST
Museums are being called upon to become more relevant, address contemporary concerns, relinquish neutrality, and abandon the fallacy of timelessness. Consequently, in the United States there has recently been an increase of art exhibitions that specifically respond to or represent contemporary affairs. Specifically, interpretation in art exhibition from the Middle East (whether ancient, Islamic, modern, or contemporary) has been used to address these concerns in exhibition spaces. This is both unique and surprising because it works against the long-held belief that museum visitors are removed from the concerns of their daily lives, because it surrenders any claim to museum neutrality, and because the inclusion of contemporary affairs has the potential to alienate funders and audiences.
Employing a structural justice approach, this lecture examines the role of exhibition interpretation and the possible effects of polytemporality and polyvocality in The World Between Empires: Art and Identity in the Ancient Middle East (March 18–June 23, 2019) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Rooted in interpretation theory and new museology and drawing on exhibition visits and interviews with curators, this talk argues that the future relevance in art-museum exhibition could be in interpretation, which is critical to the accessibility of an exhibition, responsible for the meanings audiences create, and is essential in linking the familiar with the unfamiliar.
About the speaker:
Melissa Forstrom, PhD, is an assistant professor at Purchase College-State University of New York, where she teaches museum studies and arts management courses. Recently, she coedited and contributed to Museum Innovation (Routledge, 2021), has authored a handful of academic chapters and articles, and is under contract with Routledge for a monograph titled Interpreting Islamic Art in Europe and the United States (forthcoming, 2023). Melissa has been an invited lecturer at the University of Leicester and University of Oslo, among many others. Having presented her research at conferences in the USA, UK, Germany, Singapore, and Russia, she has also been invited to speak at numerous art institutions. Her doctoral dissertation (University of Westminster, 2017) investigates the reinstallation and interpretation of Islamic art exhibitions in Europe and the United States.
“Qusayr ‘Amra: The Pandora’s Box of Early Islamic Aesthetics”
Tuesday, November 9, 2021, at 7:00 p.m. Amman local time / 12:00 (Noon) p.m. EDT
This lecture has already occurred.
Since its discovery in 1897, the early Islamic bath house of Qusayr ‘Amra (Jordan; AD 730s) has been celebrated for its figural wall paintings, the meanings of which have been much debated. Following the spectacular discoveries of new images after the recent cleaning of the paintings, Nadia Ali has identified scenes inspired by the Aethiopica, a 4th-century romance composed by Heliodorus, a Syrian outsider from Emesa (modern Homs) assimilated within Greco-Roman culture. Taking this discovery as its starting point, the lecture looks in two directions: forward, to new and emerging ways to examine images and texts together, and backward, to earlier efforts expended in understanding the paintings. It thus aims to illuminate a history of what Qusayr ‘Amra has been, as well as to generate a new vision of what it might become.
About the speaker: Nadia Ali is an associate researcher based at the IREMAM, University of Aix-Marseille, and studies the emergence of early Islamic art in the context of late antiquity. She was trained in art history, Islamic studies, and Arabic at the University of Aix-Marseille. Her educational and professional background spans France, the Middle East, the USA, Germany, and the UK. From 2018 to 2020, she was a faculty fellow at Silsila: Center for Material Histories (New York University). Before that, she was a postdoctoral researcher in the five-year Empires of Faith project based at Oxford University and the British Museum (2013–2018). She has just completed her first book, provisionally entitled Qusayr ‘Amra: The Pandora’s Box of Early Islamic Aesthetics, and she is currently working on a new book project, which has been in progress on and off for a decade now: Potent Images in Late Antique Arabia.
Online lectures on demand
Did you know ACOR has dozens of recordings of past academic presentations, available for free on our YouTube channel? Click here to see our video list, including short presentations from virtual academic conferences (e.g., ASOR and MESA) as well as feature lecture events previously held at ACOR in recent years.