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Seminars and Events 2019
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Petrie Oration, December 13th, 2019
The Ark before Noah

Irving Finkel

British Museum


The Subject: British Museum curator Irving Finkel tells a real-life detective story that began with the arrival at the museum in 2008 of a single, palm-sized Babylonian cuneiform tablet. Dating from about 1850 B.C., this clay document contained part of the famous Babylonian story of the Flood from ancient Mesopotamia, but unlike other versions, it gave precise instructions for building the large boat needed to survive a flood. Irving shares his research and additional discoveries that provide unanticipated revelations about the ark before Noah.


The Lecturer:­ Philologist and Assyriologist, Irving Finkel is Assistant Keeper of the department of the Middle East at the British Museum in London and has been a cuneiform tablet curator since 1979. He holds his degrees from the University of Birmingham, England, and is especially interested in ancient magic and medicine, all aspects of ancient cuneiform literature, and the history of the world's board games. His recent publications include The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood (2014) and The Writing in the Stone (2017).  His new book The First Ghosts is nearly finished for publication in 2020.

When:           5.15 pm  Friday 13 December, 2019

Where:          Australian Institute of Archaeology, Terrace Way, Macleod

                    (La Trobe University, Building TER 11, Melways 873-4, University parking restrictions end at 5pm)

Contact:        Christopher Davey 0421 595 966

                                                                                            Irving and the Ark      Courtesy National Geographic

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Lecture on February 25th, 2019
Ozymandias and the British discovery of Ancient Egypt

Toby Wilkinson

Professor of Egyptology and Deputy Vice Chancellor, University of Lincoln, UK


The Subject: Two hundred years ago, Percy Bysshe Shelley published his famous sonnet, ‘Ozymandias of Egypt’. The poem was inspired by the removal from Egypt of a colossal bust of Ramesses II, now one of the treasures of the British Museum. This lecture will examine the archaeological background to Shelley’s masterpiece – the story of the bust and why it was removed – and set it in the context of the wider quest by early 19th-century British explorers and adventurers to unearth and acquire pharaonic antiquities. The years between the discovery of the Rosetta Stone (in 1799) and the decipherment of hieroglyphics (in 1822) emerge as an important, if lesser-known, period in the birth of Egyptology as a discipline.


The Lecturer:­ Toby Wilkinson is Professor of Egyptology and Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Lincoln, UK. Hailed by The Daily Telegraph as ‘the foremost Egyptologist of his time’, he has held academic posts at the universities of Cambridge and Durham, and is the prize-winning author of eleven books which have been translated into eleven languages. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and the Royal Historical Society, a Bye Fellow of Clare College Cambridge, and a member of the international editorial board of the Journal of Egyptian History.

When:           5.15 pm  Monday 25 February, 2019

Where:          Australian Institute of Archaeology, Terrace Way, Macleod

                    (La Trobe University, Building TER 11, Melways 873-4, University parking restrictions end at 5pm)

Contact:        Christopher Davey 0421 595 966

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Excursion March 28th, 2019
Ancient Egypt at the State Library of Victoria

Visit to the Rare Books Room, State Library of Victoria 


Numbers are limited so it is necessary to book a place with Christopher Davey.


The State Library of Victoria has a world class collection of Nineteenth Century publications about ancient Egypt. Two series are of particular note: The Description de l'Égypte and Karl Richard Lepsius, Denkmäler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien. We will have an opportunity to look at a couple of these volumes.


The First Edition of the Description de l'Égypte is a series of 23 volumes beginning in 1809 and continuing until the final volume appeared in 1818. It is an illustrated catalog all known aspects of ancient and modern Egypt as well as its natural history. It is the collaborative work of about 160 civilian scholars and scientists, who accompanied Napoleon's expedition to Egypt in 1798 to 1801. The preparation involved about 2000 artists and technicians, including 400 engravers.

The Denkmäler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien (Monuments from Egypt and Ethiopia) is a massive twelve volume  compendia of nearly 900 plates of ancient Egyptian archaeological remains and inscriptions, with accompanying commentary and descriptions. It was published in 1849. These plans, maps, and drawings of temple and tomb walls remain a chief source of information. 


Both of these series are over a metre high and are the largest books in the library.

When:           5.00 pm  Thursday 28 March, 2019

Where:          Rare Books Room, State Library of Victoria

Contact:        Christopher Davey 0421 595 966  email:    

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