Joint Middle East Department/Palestine Exploration Fund lecture series
From 3rd millennium BC hunters to crusaders: culture, beliefs and commercial dealings in ancient Sidon

Thursday 4 December 2014,

Free, booking essential

Phone +44 (0)20 7323 8181
Ticket Desk in Great Court

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The British Museum, in collaboration with the Department of Antiquities of Lebanon, has been excavating in Sidon for the past 15 years.

This city state, 30km south of the Lebanese capital Beirut, was one of the most important ancient Canaanite and Phoenician coastal cities. However, like other places in modern Lebanon, most of what we knew of its history until now came from contemporary Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian and Greek records. Events of ritual activity that involve shared food and drink consumption can be identified in Middle Bronze Age Sidon from funerary assemblages as well as from ritual breakage and burning of pottery. Prestige items and ritual paraphernalia are also found in the Late Bronze Age, reinforcing the Sidon excavation as a reference site for substantiating Middle Bronze Age communal feasts, a fundamental aspect of Levantine archaeology. An important network of maritime traffic with Sidon started in the third millennium BC which then progressed, from as early as the 12th dynasty, through the exchange of Egyptian, Cypriot and Aegean pottery.

In the Late Bronze Age, the elites from Sidon exclusively obtained open vessels linked to ceremonial and ritual activities. The Tawosret vessel is one of the first of these dedicated items to illustrate an aspect of international communications not directly linked to religion or trade. Claude Doumet Serhal, British Museum, will discuss how all of this adds to a better understanding and a broadening of our knowledge of Levantine archaeology.

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Stone statue of a worshipper from the excavations at Ancient Sidon, courtesy of Claude Doumet-Serhal