NEAF | ‘Ideology and Belief’ Saturday series – School of Humanities NEAF | ‘Ideology and Belief’ Saturday series – School of Humanities

NEAF | ‘Ideology and Belief’ Saturday series

Welcome to the June Saturday Series. This winter we are traveling back in time from early Islam to Chalcolithic Ghassul looking at manifestations of ideology and belief over a 6,000 year period. The series starts with an examination of the ideology of the Ghurid dynasty in 12th Century Afghanistan and a case study of Late Antique Jerash exploring the interaction of politics, popular culture and the church.

We’ll move on to the competing royal ideologies of Neo-Elamite Iran and the Neo-Assyrians, and the intersection of political power and its expression in the architecture in the Southern Levant. Funerary beliefs and practices in the Middle Bronze Age Levant and their intersection with political ideology will be considered along with the splendid Karnak temple hypostyle hall, focusing on the decoration, architectural design and religious experience. The connection between political ideology and funerary architecture in the Middle Bronze Age Levant will be discussed and the series will finish with a new interpretation of the mysterious wall paintings from the Chalcolithic site of Ghassul.

Lecture 1: The Power and the Folly – the flawed ideologies of the Ghurid dynasty in twelfth-century Afghanistan

Dr David Thomas
Sydney: Saturday 3 June 2023 | 10am-11am

Abstract: The little-known Ghurid dynasty burst onto the geo-political scene of central Asia when its army torched the Ghaznavid capital of Lashkar-i Bazaar in 1149 CE. Within a few decades these so-called ‘mountain brigands’ and ‘petty chieftains’ had usurped their more illustrious neighbours and claimed territory from eastern Iran through to Bengal in India. Drawing upon his own research and fieldwork at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Jam in central Afghanistan, and more recent historiographic studies by other scholars, this talk will propose that the rapid rise and fall of the Ghurid dynasty was, at least in part, due to their flawed ideologies and parochial worldview.

Dr David Thomas is well-known to many NEAF members primarily for his work on the Pella Project in Jordan and talks about the archaeology of Afghanistan. David spent over five years digging across north Africa, the Near East and central Asia, before completing his PhD at La Trobe University in 2012. His book, The Ebb and Flow of the Ghurid Empire, was published in 2018 through NEAF’s imprimatur Adapa Monographs and Sydney University Press. David is currently continuing his long-standing collaboration with Prof. Nicholas Postgate of the University of Cambridge, co-editing a volume arising from the recent colloquium which marked the centenary of Sir Leonard Woolley’s first season of excavations at the city of Ur in Iraq.


Lecture 2: The Archaeology of Christianity in the Levant

Dr Margaret O’Hea
Sydney: Saturday 3 June 2023 | 11am-12pm

Abstract: Religion is one of the earliest topics to be explored by archaeologists. Although the material culture of Christian institutions in the Near East – churches, monasteries – has been thoroughly explored for more than a century, archaeology still yields some surprising gaps and overlooked elements. Today’s talk will focus on a case study from the well-known city of Jerash, to see how politics, popular culture and the church may have interacted in Late Antiquity.

Dr Margaret O’Hea, apart from being a field archaeologist (often at Pella in Jordan), specialises in the analysis of glass in the ancient Near East – how it was used, in what proportions to other media of utensils, and how those uses changed over time and across regions. Most of this work is centred upon the Roman-Byzantine and early mediaeval periods in Jordan, Syria, southern Turkey and now central Greece. Occasionally, Dr O’Hea is given the opportunity to study earlier material, and she has published on glass in the Iron Age. Dr O’Hea teaches at the University of Adelaide, and is also the Director of our Departmental Museum of Classical Archaeology.

The seminars will be held online on Zoom



Click here to register

You can register for the whole series at a discount, or book for specific Saturdays.

Individual lecture $20 | Entire series $60

Non Members
Individual $30 | Entire series $90

All students are free 

Click here for full seminar details

Please note – a minimum of 20 attendees is required for each lecture for this series to run – our upper limit is 300 per lecture.


Once payment is received a receipt, Meeting ID and non-transferrable password will be sent to you.

On admission to the Zoom lecture, participants will be matched to names of financial participants. Please ensure your zoom log-in screen name correctly identifies you. If you are dialling in via telephone, please ensure the number listed when booking on our website is the same used when connecting via telephone.


Our Introduction will start at 9.55am.

The lecture will start at 10am and the second lecture will begin at 11.05am and finish at 12 noon.

There will be opportunity for questions following the lectures, time permitting.


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Hosted by the Near Eastern Archaeology Foundation (NEAF)




Jun 03 2023


10:00 am - 12:00 pm




+61 2 9351 4151

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