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

NEAF | ‘Ideology and Belief’ Saturday series

24 June 2023


Lecture 1: Rethinking Life and Death in the MBA Southern Levant

Dr Holly Winter
Sydney: Saturday 24 June 2023 | 10am-11am

Abstract: This lecture will argue that the Courtyard Palace form, typical of the MBA southern Levant, has as its primary function the housing of elite/royal burials and their associated and ongoing mortuary and memorial practices. These complexes are known from numerous sites across the Southern Levant, having a likely northern origin in the Western Palace at Ebla. Taken together with the acknowledged significant funerary role for the monumental Symmetrical Fortress temple complexes, this suggests that death and its commemoration played a larger part in MBA urban life than previously acknowledged. These ‘houses for the dead’ were permanent and prominent fixtures in the city landscape and formed the physical locus for the ongoing commemoration and honouring of the elite dead, to ensure stability, wealth, and fertility for the city and its ruling elite lineages. The term ‘Funerary Palace’ is suggested as an alternative identifier for the Courtyard Palaces, given their purpose and ongoing role in court ceremony. This paper will outline the key concepts central to this thesis, illustrated with examples drawn from Courtyard Palaces of the southern Levant, and their northern exemplars.

Dr Holly Winter is a Near Eastern archaeologist with ten years’ experience, including fieldwork, research, conference presentation and lecturing in the Middle East, Europe, the United States and Australia. Her interests centre on the Bronze Age Near East, and include architectural history, funerary rites and burial customs, urbanism, and trade and international relations. She convened the Inaugural MAARC conference workshop on Monumentality in the Ancient Near East in 2021 and convened the Near Eastern Seminar Series (NESS) at the University of Sydney from 2018-2021. Holly has been a Board Member of the Near Eastern Archaeology Foundation (NEAF) since 2020. Presently, she is employed as a Senior Archaeologist in historical archaeology and heritage consulting in Sydney and has recently completed her PhD on Bronze Age monumental funerary architecture at the University of Sydney.


Lecture 2: Artists and an Aniconic revolt? A review of the 6000 year old wall paintings from Teleilat Ghassul, Jordan

Dr Bernadette Drabsch
Sydney: Saturday 24 June 2023 | 11am-12pm

Abstract: The collection of frescoes from the Chalcolithic (4700-3700 BCE) township of Teleilat Ghassul, Jordan, are vital signposts for our understanding of early visual communication systems and the role of art in pre literate societies. The polychrome wall murals include scenes of stratified and complex society, and possibly early examples of landscape vistas and astronomical observations. These artworks were produced by specialists using the buon fresco technique, and provide a visual archive documenting a largely unknown culture. This presentation will consider the place these pictorial artefacts hold in the prehistory of art, the social role of their creators and their intriguing dissolution.

Dr Bernadette Drabsch is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Newcastle and specialises in visual humanities. She has a BA in Ancient History, Honours in Natural History Illustration and PhD in Design. Her PhD on the wall paintings of Teleilat Ghassul, introduced a new methodology for contextualising and analysing ancient artworks. Bernadette has been an archaeological illustrator at the University of Sydney’s Pella Project for 15 years and has recently co-created the Central Darling Heritage Trail app.


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.


| +61 2 9351 4151
F | +61 2 9114 0921
Click here to email

Hosted by the Near Eastern Archaeology Foundation (NEAF)




Jun 24 2023


10:00 am - 12:00 pm




+61 2 9351 4151

Comments are closed.