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This seminar was created to coordinate the archaeological chronologies of the regions of the Near East and the Eastern Mediterranean. It meets from six to eight times a year to discuss new research and hear reports of recent fieldwork. A number of relevant papers were published in the American Journal of Archaeology from 1968 until 1988, and in 1992 in the Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society. Since then, the focus of the seminar has been widened to include all aspects of the ancient cultures of the Near East and its adjoining regions.

Professor Allan S. Gilbert

Dr. K. Aslihan Yener

Jeiran Jahani

Kutay Şen

Meeting Schedule

10/12/2022 Zoom
12:00 PM
At the time of Anitta. Urban layout and public buildings from the end of the Old Assyrian Colony Period at Kültepe, ancient Kaneš-Neša
Luca Peyronel, University of Milan


Recent excavations in the southwestern mound of Kültepe have brought to light a series of superimposed structures and associated stratified deposits that are allowing a precise definition of the site’s occupational sequence from the mid-3rd millennium BC to the Iron Age. The discovery of a well-preserved monumental stone building dating to the last phase of the Old Assyrian colony period – roughly between the end of the 19th and the end of the 18th century BCE – has provided important new data for the reconstruction of the urban layout of the public sector of the town. The building is composed of a long storeroom equipped with big pithoi, and a wide hall in which a substantial amount of materials was found in the collapsed layers over the floor. This paper will present the building’s architectural features, pottery equipment, and materials, discussing its functional interpretation and the implications of this new evidence for the settlement’s history.

11/14/2022 Zoom
12:00 PM
Enlil’s slumber: Poetry and the phenomenology of night
Piotr Michalowski, University of Michigan,


For the average Mesopotamian, the mundane night was dark in a manner difficult to imagine today, a time for slumber and rest. In the transcendent world, however, this time of darkness was teeming with activity, in a multifold universe of myth devoid of time, which is an illusion imposed by language and narrative. While most people were fast asleep, a wide range of cultic practitioners was busy with night-time rituals associated with such matters as gathering herbs, eliciting the power of magical purifying agents by starlight, fending off vexatious ghosts, preparing divination rituals, or countering witchcraft. In temples, certain practitioners were chanting prayers in a ritual version of the Sumerian language before and during sunrise to appease the angry heart of the “deceptively sleeping” god Enlil and to undo the havoc created by the destructive “storm” that was a manifestation of his will and desires, poetically realized as his “word” and “heart.” This destruction took place in one of the mythical realms during the night and had to be ritually repulsed before the coming of the day. In this paper, I attempt to unravel the mythic tropes and cultural norms expressed in the poetics of Enlil’s slumber embedded in the Mesopotamian phenomenology of night.

12/01/2022 Zoom
12:00 PM
Identity, mobility, and burial traditions at Tell Atchana, Alalakh
Tara Ingman, Koç Üniversitesi, Istanbul


Facets of identity – personal, social, cultural, etc. – are widely sought after and theorized aspects of ancient populations. Archaeology has developed many tools and tactics to untangle and interpret these various identities from the material record, and burials have always been a key form of evidence for this purpose. Recently, a growing number of bioarchaeological methods, including isotopes and ancient DNA analyses, alongside the identification of pathologies, biological sex, and other analyses of skeletal material, have opened up new perspectives and opportunities to reconstruct the lives of ancient individuals, sometimes in great detail. Can these reconstructions lead to better understandings of what constellations of identities these individuals may have belonged to or claimed? This presentation looks at the diverse and well-studied burial record at Tell Atchana, ancient Alalakh, as a case study to examine questions of identity and how different aspects of it may have overlapped and interconnected with patterns of mobility as revealed by recent isotopic and DNA studies.

03/28/2023 Zoom
12:00 PM
Piotr Steinkeller, Harvard University