Lectures & Seminars

We offer a range of public lectures throughout the year

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Events: Lectures and Seminars

We offer a range of public lectures throughout the year

These events are a great way to keep in touch with recent archaeological discoveries, as well as the chance to meet like-minded people who are fascinated by archaeology.

Upcoming Events:

NEAF Saturday Seminar Series:

Dispatches from the Trenches
New Research and discoveries in the Near East

View over Pella in Jordan

Saturdays from 8-29 October. Seminars will be held online on Zoom.

Individual lecture: $20
Entire series:$60

Non Members
Individual lecture: $30
Entire series: $90

You spoke, we deliver! One of the key areas of NEAF member interest is new research and discoveries. So this October’s four-part NEAF Saturday series takes us to the field, museum, and laboratory for a look at current archaeological work and its research significance.

Our speakers will bring us up to date on a range of periods and geographies across the Near East and Cyprus: from the dramatic rescue conservation of exquisite

Roman glass from Beirut, to the human and environmental story in the ancient Saudi oases desert oases of AlUla and Khaybar, the role we increasingly understand Pella played in the prehistoric ‘Olive Age’, the latest news from Early Bronze Age Khirbet Um al-Ghoslan fieldwork in Jordan, spectacular Cypro-Classical architecture newly discovered at Palaepaphos-Laona in Cyprus. We will also hear about planned research priorities for the 2023 field season at Pella.

Download the series brochure

NEAF Lectures

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NEAF Seminars

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The Full Series


Seminar Details

8 October, Lecture 1: Lecture 1: Cult and Monumentality in Neolithic Northwest Arabia: The Mustatil Phenomenon, Dr Melissa Kennedy
A view of one of the monumental rectilinear mustatils in Northwest Arabia.

Abstract: North-west Saudi Arabia is marked by hundreds of thousands of diverse prehistoric stone structures, known collectively as the ‘Works of the Old Men’. Of these, the monumental rectilinear mustatils have received limited attention. New fieldwork in the counties of AlUla and Khaybar, demonstrates that these enigmatic features are more architecturally complex than previously supposed, with chambers, entranceways and orthostats. These structures can now be interpreted as monumental ritual installations dating back to the Late Neolithic (6th millennium BCE. As such, the mustatils are amongst the earliest stone monuments of Arabia and one of the oldest and most widespread monumental building traditions known to date. This talk will outline the results of the Aerial Archaeology in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, AlUla and Khaybar projects, which have conducted the most in depth and comprehensive study of these structures to date.

Melissa Kennedy (Ph.D. 2012, The University of Sydney) is a Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia and is the Co-Director of the various AAKSA projects. She has undertaken fieldwork in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Greece, and Australia. Her research interests lie in the Early–Middle Holocene archaeological landscapes of the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula.

8 October, Lecture 2: Recent excavations at the Palaepaphos-Laona tumulus: Rethinking Classical Cyprus, Dr Craig Barker
15 October, Lecture 1: Digging for oil in the Wadi Rayyan: New discoveries at a Bronze Age olive oil “factory” in Jordan, Dr James Fraser
15 October, Lecture 2: Shattered Glass of Beirut: Responding to the 2020 Port Explosion in Lebanon, Dr James Fraser
22 October, Lecture 1: It’s the Pits – what they tell us about Chalcolithic Pella in Jordan, Dr Peta Seaton AM
22 October, Lecture 2: The First Oil Age: Olive and the origins of horticulture – new insights from the southern Levant, Anne Dighton
29 October, Lecture 1:Cultic Pits and Sacred Spaces: New insights on Levantine pit-digging, Dr Ruth Ward
29 October, Lecture 2:Life after 40: Researching Pella in Jordan in the Time of COVID, Stephen Bourke AM

How to book

Please go to book via our NEAF payment site.

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

  • NEAF Members: $20 per session All 5 sessions: $60
  • Non-Members $30 per session All 5 sessions: $90
  • All Students are free

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

All lectures will be delivered by Zoom.


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.


For over 30 years, we have run tours for anyone with a general interest in Near Eastern culture and history. Fully escorted by leading experts who share their personal love of travel and archaeology with their tour participants, our program is run in conjunction with Sydney-based companies Academy Travel and Alumni Travel.

Since the founding of NEAF in the 1980s, tours have been led by experts including Dr John Tidmarsh, Ben Churcher (Dr Jodie Benton with Ben Churcher), Dr Erin Crumlin, Maree Browne, Karen Hendrix (Egypt), Dr Stephen Bourke AM, Professor Daniel Potts and Dr Alan Walmsley

During this period NEAF we have taken hundreds of like minded travellers to the Near East and beyond. Starting close to our spiritual home of Jordan, NEAF’s tours have since expanded their horizon and in the past 30 years the Foundation has taken tours to places as far afield as Morocco, Iran, Uzbekistan and China. We even have two tours to Mexico and three tours to Mali under our belt!

The common denominator is like minded people interested in archaeology and history who love to travel off the beaten track – not only to exotic locations, but also to that out of the way place in well-travelled countries such as Greece. Led by practicing archaeologists, these tours allow an entrée into the countries we visit allowing the personal interests and experience of the tour leaders to value add to the visitor’s knowledge of the country and its history.

I’ve been fortunate to be a NEAF tour leader since the early 1990s. I started with the well-known destinations of Jordan and Syria but soon began to branch out further afield. My next tour was a four-week tour across China in 1995. It was a hard tour. We had 32 people on that tour crossing a country that had only started to open and understand the needs of tourists. While I as exhausted at the end, I made lifelong friends and saw a country that within 10 years would be unfathomably transformed. Since those early years we have kept travelling with the support of our travel partners. The two indefatigable NEAF tour leaders, myself and Dr John Tidmarsh, have amassed an incredible array of destinations from the byways of Iran, Oman, Turkey, Central Asia, and a couple more tours across China in more recent years. Unfortunately, some of our favourite destinations to places such as Syria and Libya have been curtailed by recent events and even some of our destinations such as western China have become difficult. However, the world is large and wherever there is some interesting archaeology to be seen and experienced, NEAF will be there!
Ben Churcher

Ben Churcher

Tour Leader

Upcoming Tours

Past Tours

Near Eastern Archaeology Tours have been running for over 30 years. In recent years they have been run in conjunction with the Sydney based travel companies: Academy Travel and Alumni Travel.

NEAF tour destinations have included Jordan, Syria, Oman, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Mali, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Mexico, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and China. These tours are designed for people with a fascination in both archaeology and history and they are suited to the lay-person with a general interest in the subject.

Our tours are fully-escorted by leaders who are experts in their field and they make sure that their personal love of travel and archaeology is passed on to tour participants.


Near Eastern Archaeological Foundation
Level 4, CCANESA Madsen F09, University of Sydney NSW 2006 Australia
+61 2 9351 4151 neaf.archaeology@sydney.edu.au