AMME Seminar 07.03.24: ‘Pictorial Aspects of Ancient Texts’

It is our pleasure to announce that another Ancient and Medieval Middle East (AMME) seminar will be organised as a hybrid event on Thursday 7 March (16:15-18:00 EET/Helsinki time).

The session will consist of two papers – by Victoria Almansa-Villatoro and Annick Payne – followed by a shared question round and discussion on the seminar specific theme of ‘pictorial aspects of ancient texts’. The topics of the talks are:

‘Seeing Hieroglyphs, Reading Images, Rethinking Literacy: a Semiotic Approach to Egyptian Royal Texts’ (Dr. Victoria Almansa-Villatoro)

It is assumed that only 1% of ancient Egyptians were able to read texts and that full literacy in the ancient world was only achieved after the introduction of the alphabet. This lecture challenges these ideas by showing how hieroglyphs could have been understood as images by Egyptians with different levels of education in the Old Kingdom (ca. 2700–2300 BCE). The evidence collected comes from publicly displayed royal inscriptions that exempted temple communities from taxation and mandatory labor. It will be shown that the texts were composed using a range of visual and iconic strategies that made messages accessible to the broader population.

‘Anatolian Hieroglyphic Writing and Meta-Writing’ (Assoc. Prof. Annick Payne)

The Anatolian hieroglyphic was an indigenous script, used ca. 1500-700 BCE by the Hittite Empire and her successor states. This paper introduces the structures of the writing systems and discusses the aspect of non-conform writings with a focus on the iconic potential of the script.

Everyone is most welcome to attend, so please share the invitation and join us in person or online!

Time: Thursday 7 March at 16:15-18:00 EET (UTC+2h).

Live venue: University of Helsinki, Fabianinkatu 24, room 524.

Virtual venue: Zoom (Meeting ID: 678 8979 2118 /

Wonder what else is on the menu? Check out the spring program on the ANEE news blog!