The Edwin Cuthbert Hall Annual Lecture 2023

Of Lost Gods and Gardens: Zoroastrian Echoes at the Royal City of Akchakhan-kala, Karakalpakstan

Professor Alison Betts
Date: Wed, 15 Nov 2023 5:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Location: Chau Chak Wing Museum

Image courtesy of KAE (Karakalpak-Australian Expedition)

The Karakalpak-Australian Expedition has been excavating at the massive, fortified site of Akchakhan-kala since 1994. Work there has revealed a royal city dating from c. 200 BCE to 200 CE with magnificent murals and painted sculpture supporting a programme of religious and political propaganda by the kings of ancient Chorasmia.

A major conservation project has completed full cleaning of a series of paintings illustrating examples of the key themes within the massive corpus of art so far recovered from the site. One such piece has recently been on exhibition in the Louvre. The art is highly innovative in style and content, and its integration with the architecture has created some unique and fascinating imagery. This talk will present the findings of the team as they head into final publication after 30 years of extensive fieldwork at the site.

Chaired by: Professor Emeritus David Christian (Macquarie University).

Alison Betts is Edwin Cuthbert Hall Chair of the Archaeology and Mythology of the Ancient Middle East. She has spent a long academic career working in-field along the lands of the ancient Silk Roads from the Middle Eastern deserts to western China and the southern Himalayas. She has a strong background in prehistory, especially in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages and has widely explored the spread of domesticated plants and animals across Asia. For later periods, she has been working for almost 30 years with Karakalpak colleagues on study of ancient Chorasmia, the lands of the Amu Darya delta at its confluence with the Aral Sea.

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