The 2024 Anthony McNicoll Visiting Lectureship

Back to Lagash: New Investigations into an Early Urban Centre in Southern Mesopotamia

Professor Holly Pittman | University of Pennsylvania

5:30pm doors for 6:00pm start.

The mound of Tell al-Hiba in the Tigris drainage of southern Mesopotamia is among the largest of the urban centers of ancient Sumer. Understood to be ancient Lagash, the eponymous capital of the city State of Lagash, it is known for its temples and royal workshops.

Using new technologies, the Penn Museum has returned to investigate the city with an eye toward reconstructing how this first city was organized, what were the patterns of life among the non-elite denizens, and what was the ancient environment in which this early city emerged. This lecture will present some of the preliminary results of the first five seasons of the current work at the site.

Holly Pittman is a Near Eastern art historian and archaeologist, and an expert in Near Eastern glyptic art. She is the Bok Family Professor in the Humanities and a Professor in the History of Art Department of the University of Pennsylvania and serves as a curator in the Near East Section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Before joining the University of Pennsylvania, she was a curator of Ancient Near Eastern Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1974 to 1989. Since 1972, she has conducted archaeological excavations throughout the Middle East, including projects in SyriaTurkeyCyprusIran, and Iraq. In 2019 she began directing new excavations at the site of Lagash in southern Iraq.

Pittman is best known for her work on glyptic art and she has published extensively on 3rd millennium seals and sealings and Early Bronze Age administrative systems. She has edited and contributed to several volumes on the art and archaeology of the Near East as well as publications related to exhibitions. Since 2007, Pittman has directed the Al-Hiba Publication Project.

About the Anthony McNicoll Visiting Lectureship

The Anthony McNicoll Visiting Lectureship was established through the generosity of family and friends, and aims to bring to Australia Internationally recognised scholars whose areas of study are representative of Dr McNicoll’s wide scholarly interest.

Dr Anthony McNicoll was Senior Lecturer in Middle Eastern Archaeology at the University of Sydney from 1976 until his untimely death in 1985. In the classroom, the field and through his publications, Anthony McNicoll inspired a new generation of archaeologists while earning the respect and friendship of his academic peers.

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Image courtesy of Lagash Archaeological Project (LAP)


Near Eastern Archaeological Foundation
Level 4, CCANESA Madsen F09, University of Sydney NSW 2006 Australia
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