Past Events

Conceived as an up-to-date, comprehensive overview of divination in early text cultures, the two-day conference features contributions of both young researchers and leading scholars in the field.

The first Early Text Cultures event in MT2018. Come for a round of exciting presentations and an opportunity to meet old and new friends!

A one-day symposium on early cosmological literature.

Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim (Goldmiths) will present a talk in the ongoing Asian Treasure Traditions seminar series, focusing on the Hebrew Book of Asaf and its parallels with Tibetan gter ma traditions.

The aim of this seminar is to explore the diversity of text segmentation practices in epigraphic and palaeographic sources from different regions, identify the common patterns and unique developments in individual cultures, discuss common terminology and exchange experience in the techniques of textual analysis.

A discussion of animals and negative depictions of nations, peoples and individuals across cultures.

A reading group focusing on the problems of appropriation of epigraphic texts into literary cultures of antiquity and the middle ages. Each session will focus on a particular case of appropriation of epigraphic texts in ancient and medieval cultures when the differences of time or cultural context led to new interpretations of epigraphic materials.

A reading group focused on the similarities, differences and historical exchanges between the treasure traditions In East and South Asia.

This 3-hour workshop held at the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, will explore graffiti as a genre of epigraphic text, the methodological problems of studying graffiti in early text cultures, and how graffiti should be integrated into our corpora of historical writings.

Eva Miller (Hertford, Assyriology) presents a selection of readings on beheading and humiliation in the Near East.

Three ancient languages in 45 minutes. Stefano Gandolfo (St Cross, Chinese Studies), Tuuli Ahlholm (University College, Classics) and Adam Howe (Wolfson, Assyriology).

  • 27 October 2016: Reading group meeting

Domenico Giordani (St John's, Classics) presents a selection of readings on the rituals of regifugium and ecuria in ancient Rome.

This joint presentation explores the interplay between inscriptions and their carriers in the context of Indic kingship in ancient South Asia on the one hand and in the context of early ancestral rituals in ancient China on the other. We aim at comparing literary forms used in inscriptions from both cultures in relation to their respective carriers. We argue a dialectical model of interaction between textuality and materiality by looking at the cases of complex ritual systems in ancient South Asia and China as conceived in both textual contents and archaeological contexts of our selected inscriptions.

This presentation compares textual transmission reflected in biographical records in Tibetan and Muslim traditions that abound in descriptions of lineages of transmission of textual knowledge. The presentation will be based on two case studies:

  • the exhaustive Blue Annals (Deb ther sngon po) by Go lo tsā ba (1392-1481) which records the history of the spread of different systems of Buddhist thought and practice in Tibet, and

  • the writings of Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī (d. 1071), whose fame is associated with his magnum opus, Tārīkh madīnat al-salām: Tārīkh Baghdād (‘The history of the city of peace, history of Baghdād’).

Many pre-modern cultures are characterised by a particular attitude to textual learning that involves recitation, memorisation of large fragments of textual material and their internalisation into the everyday life of practitioners. As contemporary Western education has largely withdrawn from such practices, it has become difficult for modern students of ancient and pre-modern texts to understand how these texts were read and performed. However, not all traditional systems of textual learning have been lost, and Tibetan Buddhism is one example of a well-developed tradition focused on textual engagement. And today we have a possibility to meet and talk to a representative of this tradition who will be focusing on his own experiences and the curriculum of the IBD.

  • 14 November 2014: Hands-on Session: Oracle Bone Inscriptions

  • 25 June 2014: Hands-on Session: Cuneiform

  • 7 May 2014: Writing Victory: Conquest Records of Ancient Assyrian, Chinese, and Egyptian kings

    • One of the most widespread textual types in the Ancient World is the account of royal successes and military victories. Texts of this type demonstrate astonishing similarities in structure and content across different ancient cultures. Although such texts may serve as important historical sources, they were commonly addressed to spirits and deities; it is very easy to misinterpret them because of the lack of information about their audience and contexts. At this session, we will approach conquest descriptions as a universal textual type and demonstrate how unrelated conquest accounts from Ancient Assyria, China and Egypt provide complementary evidence for the understanding of kingship, conquest, ritual and writing in the Ancient World.

  • 20 February 2014: Navigating the Great Flood Narratives: select uses and transformations of flood narratives in Ancient China and Mesopotamia

    • This seminar explores the ways in which flood motifs are embedded into the diverse bodies of Chinese and Mesopotamian textual traditions. Rather than comparing mythological narratives abstractly, we will concentrate on the textuality of the motifs – that is, the function of the motif in diverse texts, and the dynamics of transformation in the use of such motifs. The binding theme of ‘the flood’ was chosen as a platform from which to explore the relationship between mythological narrative and textuality in two diverse indigenous writing traditions.