NEAF Saturday Seminar Series | LIFE AFTER DEATH – Burial practices in the ancient Near East – School of Humanities NEAF Saturday Seminar Series | LIFE AFTER DEATH – Burial practices in the ancient Near East – School of Humanities

NEAF Saturday Seminar Series | LIFE AFTER DEATH – Burial practices in the ancient Near East

LIFE AFTER DEATH | Burial practices in the ancient Near East

Burials are one of the best preserved and most important records of the human past, generally preserving material culture better than any other archaeological context, due to their sealed nature. The study of burial practices has helped to inform on life before and after death, providing important information on past social, political, cultural, economic, and ideological aspects, through an examination of the skeletal and accompanying material remains.

In this lecture series we will explore some of the iconic tombs and burial customs of the East Mediterranean world, from the wonders of the Egyptian Valley of the Kings through to the fabulous wealth in the Tomb of Philip II of Macedon. We shall examine the Royal Tombs of the great Bronze Age city-states of Syria, the enigmatic tombs of Petra’s sister-city of Mada’in Salih in Saudi Arabia, and the elaborately sculptured tombs of Roman Palmyra.

By comparing the ways in which people interred their loved ones across the ages, we learn something about the changing beliefs in the afterlife, while exploring how these beliefs resonate with the changing lifestyles of the people who furnished the graves so richly to commemorate their ancestors below and maintain relationships with the gods above.

These online lectures will be delivered via Zoom, and will start at 10am and last for approximately two hours. The two-hour block will be divided into two 45-minute lecture- sessions by different speakers. The first lecture will start after a short introduction at 10am and there will be an opportunity to ask a few questions after this lecture. The second lecture will begin at 11.05am and finish at 12 noon. There will be a ten-minute coffee-break between the two sessions.

Seminar Schedule

9 October 2021

Lecture 1: Houses for the Dead

Chalcolithic Death and Renewal in the Southern Levant
Dr Peta Seaton | Sydney University

Sydney: Saturday 9 October 2021 | 10am-11am

Abstract: Chalcolithic religious practice is diverse and rich in iconography. Chalcolithic burial practices are equally diverse and include elaborate ceramic ossuaries, cave, cist, and underfloor burials. In this talk we will survey the key features of Chalcolithic burial and ritual practices and explore what the evidence tells us about pre-urban ideas about life, death and renewal in the late 5th and early 4th Millennium BCE.

Lecture 2: The tombs of Petra’s secret sister city – Mada’in Salih
Dr Catriona Bonfiglioli | University of Technology Sydney

Sydney: 9 October 2021 | 11am-12pm

Abstract: Rose red Petra is famous around the world for its tombs, temples and theatres, but less well known are the equally beautiful tombs of Mada’in’ Salih many kilometres to the south in Saudi Arabia. Guarded by Gods and priests, locked up in contracts, and dedicated to particular families, the tombs of Mada’in Salih offer new insights into the Nabateans, their burial customs, their Gods, and the ancient shenanigans of families competing for tomb real estate. This talk introduces Mada’in Salih, ancient Hegra, reviews recent discoveries and aims to contextualises this magnificent site within the Nabatean realm in the time when it was a must-see watering hole on the spice route.


The seminars will be held online on Zoom

Individual lecture $20
Entire series $80

Non Members
Individual $30

Entire series $120

For bookings, please visit: research/centres-institutes-and- groups/near-eastern- archaeology-foundation/lectures

Click here to register
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Hosted by the Near Eastern Archaeology Foundation (NEAF)

Image: Excavations of the French archaeological delegation in Persia at the ancient city of Susa.



Oct 09 - 13 2021


10:00 am - 12:00 pm




+61 2 9351 4151
Click here to register

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